A little less than two weeks ago, Jerry McKiearnan, 72, was granted a medical parole by a California Parole Board, leading to his release to a nursing home most likely in Tulare County.
McKiernan was convicted in 2000 of the 1999 murder of Porterville native Pat Castaneda. McKiernan was convicted of first-degree murder after Castaneda was found dismembered.
A Porterville family is having to relive the murder of their brother all over again with the release of the man convicted of killing him.
McKiearnan was serving a sentence of 26 years to life at a California Health Care Facility in Stockton and wasn't supposed to be eligible for parole until 2026.
Conditions of his release to a nursing home include GPS monitoring, not leaving the facility without written approval, alcohol and drug testing, medical evaluations, and no weapons.
There was also other criteria that needed to be met before McKiearnan could be released. One criteria was obviously McKiearnan's sentence gave him a chance for parole. Those sentenced to life without the possibility of parole aren't eligible for medical parole.
The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation states for medical parole to be considered: “First, the head physician of the institution where the inmate is housed must determine that the inmate suffers from a significant and permanent medical condition resulting in the inmate being permanently medically incapacitated. Additionally, the inmate must be unable to perform one or more activities of basic daily living such that the inmate qualifies for placement in a licensed health care facility in the community.”
Medical personnel at the prison where the inmate is housed or the inmate's family or attorney can request that the prison's primary care physician consider the inmate for medical parole at any time. The primary care physician's assessment is the considered by the chief medical executive and parole officer at the prison where the inmate is housed to determine if the inmate should be referred to the parole board.
When determining if an inmate should receive medical parole, the parole board is required to determine “whether the inmate will pose an unreasonable risk to public safety if placed in a licensed health care facility in the community.”
A parole board's granting of medical parole is also “conditioned upon California Correctional Health Care Services identifying a licensed health care facility that meets the specific requirements identified by the hearing panel.”
Provisions for other parole hearings also apply to medical parole hearings including providing applicable hearing notices to victims' families who have registered with the Office of Victim and Surviors Rights and Services. But Adam Castaneda stated his family had to find out about McKiearnan's release on Facebook.
A video conference was held with the parole board during McKiearnan's hearing and prosecutors argued against the release. Adam Castaneda also stated his family wasn't given a chance to testify during that hearing.
It's also stated victims' families who would like to request notice and an opportunity to attend an inmate’s medical parole hearing or who would like to request notice of a medical parole hearing must register with CDCR’s Office of Victim & Survivor Rights & Services.
Once an inmate is placed in a nursing home, “the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and California Correctional Health Care Services will monitor the inmate’s medical condition and behavior while he or she is placed in a licensed health care facility.”
If the inmate shows significant improvements in their medical condition, they will be returned to prison.