Long-Time Inmate Hopes For Parole After 54 Years

LA GRANGE, Ky. (AP) -- Kentucky's longest-serving prison inmate is hoping a new program aimed at granting medical parole to some infirmed prisoners will set him free after 54 years behind bars.

Kentucky Corrections Commissioner LaDonna Thompson is considering the case of 76-year-old Willie Gaines Smith, who is serving life in prison for a 1960 murder and robbery in Lexington.

Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb told WDRB in Louisville (http://bit.ly/1m8xQuo) that Smith is among those who have qualified for a pilot project.

The program is aimed at saving the state money by moving some inmates to private nursing homes where the federal government pays most of the bills through Medicaid. It costs $182 a day to care for inmates like Smith.

Inmates must meet certain criteria, including not being a sex offender or on death row.

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