AUSTIN (AP) – Texas officials are exploring the possibility of paroling the state’s most infirm inmates to secure nursing homes to save on the high cost of meeting their medical needs.

The Austin American-Statesman reports that the inmates who qualified would be moved to secure nursing homes where they could be monitored through ankle bracelets.

State records show the 10 sickest convicts cost taxpayers more than $1.9 million in 2011. The costs are expected to rise as the state’s prison population ages.

Already, convicts older than 55 make up 8 percent of the state’s prison population, while accounting for 30 percent of the system’s medical costs.

Senate Criminal Justice Committee Chairman John Whitmire, D-Houston, says millions of dollars could be saved without sacrificing public safety.

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