Expands the definition of dangerous contraband to include telecommunications and electronic recording devices.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the penal law, in relation to expanding the definition of dangerous contraband to include telecommunications and electronic recording devices
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: This bill would amend subdivision 4 of Penal Law ("PL") § 205.00, which'" contains the definitions of terms that are referenced in PL Article 205, relating to offenses committed when someone is in custody. It would add "telecommunications devices" to the existing definition of "dangerous contraband", and would be applicable to a number of devices that would be proscribed by virtue of PL § 205.25 ("Promoting prison contraband in the first degree").
JUSTIFICATION: Correctional systems throughout the world are witnessing the proliferation of contraband cell phones and other telecommunications devices. These devices pose a serious threat to public safety in several important ways. Such devices allow inmates to circumvent the safeguards and controls imposed on their communications, including the monitoring of the content of calls or numbers called, blocks on calls to certain numbers, and prohibitions against all phone communications where they pose a threat to safety and security. With such unlimited access, inmates are able to organize escapes by, for example, alerting outside individuals to prisoners' movements, Or sending images of secure areas. Inmates can organize prison disturbances, continue,to harass witnesses and victims (including their victims of domestic violence) and interfere with members of juries. They are also able to use such devices to arrange for introduction of contraband into detention facilities or continue their outside illegal activities.
It is therefore essential to public safety that all possible measures be taken to deter the introduction and possession of such contraband. This bill would ensure that such conduct is punishable as a felony under PL § 205.25. Under PL Article 205, promoting prison contraband is a misdemeanor (PL § 205.20) unless the item introduced or possessed is "dangerous contraband", which term is defined in PL 205.00(4) as "contraband which is capable of such use as may endanger the safety or security of a detention facility or any person therein" and punishable as a D felony under PL § 205.25. While it should be beyond debate that telecommunications devices fit within that definition, it is important to eliminate any ambiguity in connection with the interpretation of the statute. This proposal will also send an important message to the public and to the inmate population that promoting such contraband will be punishable as a felony.
Finally, we note that at least seven other States (Arkansas, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas) have adopted statutes making it a crime to possess or introduce electronic devices into their detention facilities.
Accordingly, the Mayor urges the earliest possible favorable consideration of this proposal by the Legislature.
PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: None.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS FOR STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS: Savings will ultimately result from more effective efforts to eliminate unneeded regulatory mandates on businesses and local governments in the state.
EFFECTIVE DATE: 90th day after it shall have become law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 2534 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE January 25, 2011 ___________Introduced by Sen. GIANARIS -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Codes AN ACT to amend the penal law, in relation to expanding the definition of dangerous contraband to include telecommunications and electronic recording devices THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivision 4 of section 205.00 of the penal law is amended to read as follows: 4. "Dangerous contraband" means contraband which is capable of such use as may endanger the safety or security of a detention facility or any person therein, WHICH SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, A TELE- COMMUNICATIONS OR ELECTRONIC RECORDING DEVICE. FOR PURPOSES OF THIS SUBDIVISION, A "TELECOMMUNICATIONS OR ELECTRONIC RECORDING DEVICE" MEANS ANY TYPE OF INSTRUMENT, DEVICE, MACHINE OR EQUIPMENT THAT IS DESIGNED TO TRANSMIT AND/OR RECEIVE TELEPHONIC, ELECTRONIC, DIGITAL, CELLULAR OR RADIO SIGNALS OR COMMUNICATIONS OR ANY PART OF SUCH INSTRUMENT, DEVICE, MACHINE OR EQUIPMENT, AS WELL AS ANY TYPE OF INSTRUMENT DESIGNED TO HAVE SOUND OR IMAGE RECORDING ABILITIES AND SHALL INCLUDE, BUT NOT BE LIMITED TO, A CELLULAR OR DIGITAL PHONE, A PAGER, A TWO-WAY RADIO TEXT MESSAGING OR MODEM DEVICE (INCLUDING MODEM EQUIPMENT DEVICES), A CAMERA, A VIDEO RECORDER AND TAPE OR DIGITAL RECORDING DEVICES, OR ANY OTHER DEVICE THAT HAS SAID CAPABILITIES. S 2. This act shall take effect on the ninetieth day after it shall have become a law.EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD05759-01-1