Establishes a pilot project for placement of inmates close to home; provides that such project would house inmates who are parents of minor children in the correctional facility located in closest proximity to the primary place of residence of any such inmate's minor child or children.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the correction law, in relation to establishing the pilot project for the placement of inmates close to home; and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof
PURPOSE: To conduct a pilot program placing certain inmates in facilities closer to the communities where their children reside
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section one of the bill is the legislative intent.
Section two of the bill is the name of this act which shall be the "pilot Project for Placement of Inmates Close to Home".
Section three of this bill establishes the pilot program in a facility of the Department of Corrections' choosing which will house inmate volunteers whose minor children reside close to the facility in order to facilitate visitation between the inmate parent and his or her child. The Office of Children and Family Services and/or the local district social services offices will be consulted as to the appropriateness of visitation before any inmate is admitted to the program. Further, an independent, academic analysis is required to determine the effectiveness of this pilot and make recommendations, if any, for expansion and improvement.
Section four is the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: Approximately 59% of all New York state prison and jail inmates are parents. For women under custody in New York the number is closer to 71%. More than 80,000 minor children in New York State have a parent incarcerated in a state prison. Transportation provides a major barrier to visitation.
Inmates are often placed in prisons far from their children and far from home. Male inmates at Lakeview Correctional Facility who come from New York City are more than 400 miles from home, while female inmates at Albion are around 375 miles from New York City. Distances are large and public transportation is difficult, especially with the termination of the longstanding DOCS free bus program that provided visitors with transportation to remote prisons from sites around the state.
For children in foster care, distance is the number one barrier to legally mandated visits with their incarcerated parents. Social service agencies are required to maintain contact with incarcerated parents (except in cases where a court has ruled otherwise) including bringing children for visits with parents in prison. When the goal is reunification the requirement to provide visits extends to the tri-state area.
Non-compliance is routine in large part because of the distance. Given the caseloads and demands on child welfare workers, it is difficult to take a whole day or two for one parent-child visit. As a result, children in foster care with incarcerated parents suffer greatly from lack of parental contact. Without visits, an incarcerated parent is at great risk for termination of his or her parental rights, the permanent legal severing of the parent-child relationship.
Recent studies have emphasized the importance of visits and family ties in the prevention of recidivism. One study found that every visit a prisoner received measurably and increasingly lowered the likelihood of recidivism. Visits by relatives, including children, seem to matter most when it comes to reducing recidivism, creating a significant public safety benefit to supporting the maintenance of parent-child and other ties during incarceration.
Children who have parents in prison are significantly affected by the frequency and quality of contact with their parents. While there are instances when visits are not in children's best interest, for most children visits are beneficial to their psychological and emotional well-being, their physical health and development, and can help smooth the reentry process and family reunification. Children of incarcerated parents are recognized as an at-risk population and parental incarceration is now included as an ACE factor, as "Adverse Childhood Experience," that can negatively affect children's development. The risks for children associated with having an incarcerated parent can be significantly mitigated by the continuing presence of the parent in the child's life, through visitation, telephone contact, and letters. The number one way to promote visiting is by reducing the distances between the incarcerated parent and their children.
While the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision normally places inmates in prisons based on classification by security level and programmatic needs, this pilot program will explore the use of a third criterion, proximity to an inmate's minor children. The purpose of this act is to establish a pilot program to assess the effects of housing inmates who are parents of minor children close to home in order to facilitate visitation between such parents and their children. The department will select 60 inmate volunteers to be housed in a facility closest to the communities where their children reside where such facility is an otherwise appropriate placement for them.
The department will be required to report to the legislature and the governor on the effectiveness of the pilot program and make recommendations for expansion to other correctional facilities in order to place more inmates close to their families and minor children. Should the pilot program prove beneficial, the expectation is that the program will be broadened to allow more inmates to be housed in close proximity to their home communities, thus facilitating visitation and contacts with their children and other family members.
This bill also calls for an independent, academic analysis of the effect of the pilot program prepared in consultation with the department. Such analysis will report on the impact, if any, the placement of such inmates closest to the communities where their children reside has had on the inmates themselves, the safety and security of the facility, the foster care case and local social service agency, if applicable, and, where possible, on the family members and children involved as well as any other effect of the program that can be measured. The report shall include recommendations as to the future of the program and what modifications would be recommended in order to improve implementation and outcomes.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect six months after it shall have become law.
STATE OF NEW YORK ________________________________________________________________________ 6855 IN SENATE March 29, 2012 ___________Introduced by Sen. RIVERA -- 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 establishing the pilot project for the placement of inmates close to home; and provid- ing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration thereof THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND ASSEM- BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS: Section 1. Short title. This act shall be known and may be cited as the "pilot project for the placement of inmates close to home". S 2. Legislative intent. The legislature hereby finds and declares that research shows inmates who maintain family ties during incarcera- tion have lower rates of recidivism than inmates who do not. Further, most inmates are parents, and more than 80,000 children in the state of New York have a parent incarcerated in the state prison system. The legislature further finds that the department of corrections and community supervision should consider proximity to minor children among the key criteria of security and health and program needs when determin- ing prison assignments and transfers of parents, and should support increased access of children to their incarcerated parents through the use of technology and programs currently available within the depart- ment. The legislature therefore declares that there is a need to develop classification criteria that would place inmates in proximity to their family members and home communities, and in particular for those inmates who are parents of minor children in the appropriate correctional facil- ity located closest to those children provided such placement is other- wise appropriate and suitable, and would facilitate increased contact between such inmate and his or her child or children. S 3. The correction law is amended by adding a new section 72-c to read as follows: S 72-C. PILOT PROJECT FOR THE PLACEMENT OF INMATES CLOSE TO HOME. 1. THE COMMISSIONER SHALL ESTABLISH A PILOT PROGRAM AT A DESIGNATED CORREC- TIONAL FACILITY FOR THE PURPOSE OF HOUSING INMATES WHO ARE PARENTS OFEXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets [ ] is old law to be omitted. LBD14694-01-2 S. 6855 2
MINOR CHILDREN IN THE CORRECTIONAL FACILITY WHICH IS LOCATED IN CLOSEST PROXIMITY TO THE PRIMARY PLACE OF RESIDENCE OF ANY SUCH INMATE'S MINOR CHILD OR CHILDREN UNDER EIGHTEEN YEARS OF AGE, PROVIDED THAT SUCH PLACE- MENT IS OTHERWISE SUITABLE AND APPROPRIATE PURSUANT TO THE REGULATIONS OF THE DEPARTMENT AND WOULD FACILITATE INCREASED CONTACT BETWEEN SUCH INMATE AND HIS OR HER CHILD OR CHILDREN. FOR PURPOSES OF THIS PILOT PROGRAM, THERE SHALL BE AT LEAST SIXTY INMATES WHO ON A VOLUNTARY BASIS REQUEST PLACEMENT IN THE PILOT PROGRAM AND WHO ARE PARENTS OF MINOR CHILDREN. IN SELECTING SUCH INMATES THE DEPARTMENT SHALL CONSULT WITH THE OFFICE OF CHILDREN AND FAMILY SERVICES AND THE LOCAL DISTRICT OF SOCIAL SERVICES LOCATED IN THE COUNTY WHERE SUCH INMATE'S CHILD RESIDES. 2. THE COMMISSIONER, IN CONSULTATION WITH THE JOHN JAY COLLEGE INSTI- TUTE FOR CRIMINAL JUSTICE ETHICS OR OTHER SUCH CRIMINAL JUSTICE DIVISION AS THE ADMINISTRATION OF JOHN JAY COLLEGE MAY PROVIDE, SHALL SUBMIT BEGINNING ON THE FIRST OF JANUARY IN THE YEAR TWO THOUSAND FOURTEEN AND EVERY JANUARY THEREAFTER A REPORT TO THE GOVERNOR, THE TEMPORARY PRESI- DENT OF THE SENATE AND THE SPEAKER OF THE ASSEMBLY ON THE EFFECTIVENESS OF THIS PILOT PROJECT AND SHALL INCLUDE AN ANALYSIS OF THE IMPACT ON THE INMATE, HIS OR HER CHILDREN, AND FAMILY PARTICIPANTS INCLUDING SUCH IMPACT ON INSTITUTIONAL SAFETY AND PERFORMANCE AND ANY RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ADDITIONAL LEGISLATIVE ENACTMENTS THAT MAY BE NEEDED OR REQUIRED, TO IMPROVE, ENHANCE AND SUBSEQUENTLY EXPAND THE PROGRAM TO OTHER CORREC- TIONAL FACILITIES AS DETERMINED TO BE APPROPRIATE BY THE COMMISSIONER. 3. NO PERSON SHALL HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEMAND OR REQUIRE PARTICIPATION IN THE PILOT PROJECT AUTHORIZED BY THIS SECTION. THE COMMISSIONER MAY REVOKE AT ANY TIME PARTICIPATION IN SUCH PROJECT FOR ANY SERIOUS DISCI- PLINARY INFRACTION COMMITTED BY THE INMATE OR FOR ANY FAILURE TO CONTIN- UE TO PARTICIPATE SUCCESSFULLY IN ANY ASSIGNED WORK AND TREATMENT PROGRAM AFTER PLACEMENT IN SUCH PILOT PROGRAM. ANY ACTION BY THE COMMIS- SIONER PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL BE DEEMED A JUDICIAL FUNCTION AND SHALL NOT BE REVIEWABLE IF DONE IN ACCORDANCE WITH LAW. S 4. This act shall take effect six months after it shall have become a law and shall expire September 1, 2015 when upon such date provisions of this act shall be deemed repealed. Effective immediately, the addi- tion, amendment and/or repeal of any rule or regulation necessary for the implementation of this act on its effective date is authorized to be made on or before such date.