Washington May Release Ill Prisoners to Save Money - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington May Release Ill Prisoners to Save Money

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OLYMPIA, Wash. About two dozen seriously ill prisoners in Washington state could soon be released from prison - as long as their freedom is expected to save the cash-strapped state money.

A new state law takes effect Saturday. It expands a current program to release chronically or terminally ill prisoners.

Death row inmates, or those serving life sentences without the possibility of parole, are not eligible for early release.

Washington is among more than 30 states that have some form of early release program for seriously ill prisoners.

Supporters say releasing debilitated prisoners saves the state money. Critics say it could actually cost more because those released may be dependent on state aid programs.