HB 3668 would have the inmates screened by prison administrators and then go before the Prisoner Review Board. The idea would be to reduce overcrowding and save money as older prisoners' health care costs increase.
"This bill is built on the premise that people can and do change," prisoner rights advocate Bill Ryan said in committee.
But victims' famiy members pleaded with the committee not to move forward with the legislation. Having to plead with the state prison officials against allowing convicted murderers to be on the outside to terrorize their families simply because they've turned 50 would be devastating, one testified in committee.
Matt Jones, of the State's Attorney Appellate Prosecutor's office, said the age of 50 is too arbitrary and could be challenged in court. It also impacts the governor's clemency powers.
"It is unconstitutional. It is bad public policy. It is not the direction you should go," Jones said.
The measure passed the House's Restorative Justice Committee last week and is now eligible for full House debate.