Bill S3282-2011

Provides that persons 19, 20 or 21 years old may be housed with older or younger persons within the correction system

Provides that persons 19, 20 or 21 years old may be housed with older or younger persons within the correction system.

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  • Jan 4, 2012: REFERRED TO CRIME VICTIMS, CRIME AND CORRECTION
  • Feb 15, 2011: REFERRED TO CRIME VICTIMS, CRIME AND CORRECTION

Memo

BILL NUMBER:S3282

TITLE OF BILL:

An act to amend the correction law, in relation to the housing of persons nineteen, twenty and twenty-one years of age within the correction department

PURPOSE OF BILL:

This bill would provide fiscal relief to county correctional facilities that experience capacity problems by providing flexibility to jail administrators in housing inmates who are 19, 20 and 21 years of age.

SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:

Section 1 of the bill would amend Correction Law § 500-b(4) to prohibit local jail administrators from housing persons who are 18 years old and younger with persons who are 22 years old or older, but would allow them to house persons who are 19, 20 or 21 years old with either the older or the younger categories of inmates. It also would make a conforming, technical change to Correction Law § 500-b (13), which allows the State Commission of Correction (SCOC) to issue variances to address emergency overcrowding situations in local jails.

Section 2 of the bill contains the effective date.

EXISTING LAW:

Correction Law § 500-b(4) prohibits a local jail administrator from housing persons who are 16, 17, and 18 years old with persons who are over 18 years old. Correction Law § 500-b(13) creates an exception to this prohibition, by allowing SCOC to issue a variance to allow commingling for short periods of time to address an emergency overcrowding condition, but only when such commingling does not present a danger to the health, safety or welfare of any inmate.

STATEMENT IN SUPPORT:

Safety and welfare of inmates, and the overall safety, security and good order of the facility are essential to the proper administration of any correctional facility. Age classification rules that prevent the commingling of certain categories of inmates can play a significant role in furthering these goals. These rules can, however, also lead to unnecessary overcrowding in some sections of a facility, and can create fiscal burdens on counties that are required to board inmates at facilities in other counties, when they have available capacity in another section of their own facility but are barred from using that capacity because of age classification restrictions. This bill would amend certain age classification rules applicable to county correctional facilities in a manner that is consistent with the safety and welfare of inmates,

but will give jail administrators greater flexibility and relieve fiscal burdens on county governments.

A number of county jails outside of New York City are operating in excess of their overall capacity yet have vacant beds due to statutorily defined classification standards that separate inmates in a manner that is not consistent with operational or safety oriented protocals. SCOC reports that there is typically capacity available in a unit used for housing persons who are 16, 17, and 18 years old, but that, under existing law, persons 19 years old and older cannot be placed in those beds - even if the "adult" section of the facility is overcrowded. Under this bill, a jail administrator could not place any adult of any age in the unit with those younger persons, but he or she could place persons who are only slightly older - those who are 19, 20 and 21 years old - in that unit. In many instances, this flexibility will provide the needed "safety valve" that would relieve the need either to board out inmates or build more jail capacity in the county.

For over twenty years SCOC has had the authority to grant temporary waivers of the age classification restrictions in emergency overcrowding situations. It is not aware of any problems or safety concerns that have occurred in instances when younger and older inmates have been commingled pursuant to a waiver of the age classification standards.

Because they are only available on a temporary, short-term basis, however, these emergency waivers are not a viable solution in counties that face chronic overcrowding. Instead, these counties are left with essentially two options.

One option is for the county to board out inmates who would be housed in overcrowded areas of a facility to another county and pay that recipient county over $100 per day per inmate. Based on local jail capacity data compiled by SCOC, an average of approximately 300 inmates are boarded out to other counties on any given day. Boarding out an average of 25 inmates can have an annual cost of approximately $1 million for a county, and several counties outside of New York City regularly board out more than 25 inmates. This places a significant fiscal burden on those counties that are routinely required to board out inmates.

The other option is for the county to build a new or larger facility that would allow it both to accommodate all inmates in that county and to follow the existing classification statutory limitations. But the costs of constructing a new facility can be prohibitive, averaging between $75,000 and $90,000 per bed.

These fiscal burdens, though painful for a county, could perhaps be justified if there truly were no available capacity in a county facility. The reality, however, is that there is often unused space in one portion of a facility, even while another section is overcrowded.

SCOC has convened an informal working group of several county jail· administrators, the Sheriffs Association, the New York State Association of Counties and the Division of the Budget, which is

exploring remedies for the fiscal challenges that strain the operational needs of county jails. This working group has endorsed this proposal as one that is operationally effective and fiscally responsible, while not causing any impact on the safety of inmates confined in local correctional facilities or to overall public safety.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS:

This bill would not have any direct state fiscal impact. However, it would allow county governments to avoid operational and capital construction costs associated with overcrowding at certain county correctional facilities. Additionally, this bill would provide county governments with immediate fiscal relief in a manner that preserves public safety at a time when all levels of New York government are making touch choices to reduce spending and operate within limited available resources.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY:

2009-10: S.6033 - Referred to Crime Victims, Crime & Correction, Governor Program Bill No. 54

EFFECTIVE DATE:

This bill would take effect immediately, with provisions.


Text

STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 3282 2011-2012 Regular Sessions IN SENATE February 15, 2011 ___________
Introduced by Sen. HASSELL-THOMPSON -- read twice and ordered printed, and when printed to be committed to the Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Correction AN ACT to amend the correction law, in relation to the housing of persons nineteen, twenty and twenty-one years of age within the correction department THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Subdivisions 4 and 13 of section 500-b of the correction law, subdivision 4 as added by chapter 907 of the laws of 1984 and subdivision 13 as amended by chapter 574 of the laws of 1985, are amended to read as follows: 4. (A) No person under nineteen years of age shall be placed or kept or allowed to be at any time with any prisoner or prisoners [nineteen] TWENTY-TWO years of age or older, in any room, dormitory, cell or tier of the buildings of such institution unless separately grouped to prevent access to persons under nineteen years of age by prisoners [nineteen] TWENTY-TWO years of age or older. (B) PERSONS NINETEEN, TWENTY OR TWENTY-ONE YEARS OF AGE MAY, AT THE DISCRETION OF THE CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER, BE PLACED OR KEPT EITHER WITH PERSONS UNDER NINETEEN YEARS OF AGE OR WITH PERSONS TWENTY-TWO YEARS OF AGE OR OLDER, PROVIDED HOWEVER THAT IN MAKING THE DECISION ON WHERE TO HOUSE SUCH NINETEEN, TWENTY OR TWENTY-ONE YEAR OLD PERSONS, THE CHIEF ADMINISTRATIVE OFFICER SHALL CONSIDER ALL OF THE FACTORS SET FORTH IN PARAGRAPH (A) OF SUBDIVISION SEVEN OF THIS SECTION. 13. Where in the opinion of the chief administrative officer an emer- gency overcrowding condition exists in a local correctional facility caused in part by the [prohibition against the commingling of persons under nineteen years of age with persons nineteen years of age or older or the commingling of persons nineteen years of age or older with persons under nineteen years of age] RESTRICTIONS UPON COMMINGLING OF
CATEGORIES OF PERSONS SET FORTH IN SUBDIVISION FOUR OF THIS SECTION, the chief administrative officer may apply to the commission for permission to commingle the aforementioned categories of inmates for a period not to exceed thirty days as provided herein. The commission shall acknowl- edge to the chief administrative officer the receipt of such application upon its receipt. The chief administrative officer shall be permitted to commingle such inmates upon acknowledgment of receipt of the applica- tion by the commission. The commission shall assess the application within seven days of receipt. The commission shall deny any such appli- cation and shall prohibit the continued commingling of such inmates where it has found that the local correctional facility does not meet the criteria set forth in this subdivision and further is in substantial noncompliance with minimum staffing requirements as provided in commis- sion rules and regulations. In addition, the commission shall determine whether the commingling of such inmates presents a danger to the health, safety or welfare of any such inmate. If no such danger exists the chief administrative officer may continue the commingling until the expiration of the aforementioned thirty day period or until such time as he deter- mines that the overcrowding which necessitated the commingling no longer exists, whichever occurs first. In the event the commission determines that such danger exists, it shall immediately notify the chief adminis- trative officer, and the commingling of such inmates shall cease. Such notification shall include specific measures which should be undertaken by the chief administrative officer, to correct such dangers. The chief administrative officer may correct such dangers and reapply to the commission for permission to commingle; however, no commingling may take place until such time as the commission certifies that the facility is now in compliance with the measures set forth in the notification under this subdivision. When such certification has been received by the chief administrative officer, the commingling may continue for thirty days, less any time during which the chief administrative officer commingled such inmates following his application to the commission, or until such time as he determines that the overcrowding which necessitated the commingling no longer exists, whichever occurs first. The chief adminis- trative officer may apply for permission to commingle such inmates for up to two additional thirty day periods, in conformity with the provisions and the requirements of this subdivision, in a given calendar year. For the period ending December thirtieth, nineteen hundred eight- y-four, a locality may not apply for more than one thirty day commin- gling period. S 2. This act shall take effect immediately; provided that the amend- ments to section 500-b of the correction law made by section one of this act shall not affect the repeal of such section and shall be deemed to be repealed therewith.

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