Assemblyman NELSON T. ALBANO
District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)
Requires inmates with sufficient means to pay their incarceration costs.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act requiring certain inmates to pay the cost of their incarceration and supplementing Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. a. The Commissioner of Corrections shall establish and collect a fee to cover the costs of confinement for each year that a person is committed to the custody of the Department of Corrections.
b. The fee established in subsection a. of this section shall be equivalent to the average cost to the department of incarcerating an inmate for one year. This fee shall be prorated with respect to persons incarcerated for 334 days or less. The calculation of the number of days of incarceration shall include time served prior to conviction.
c. The determination of an inmate's assets, liabilities and dependents for the purposes of this act shall be ascertained from information contained in the presentence investigation report and findings and orders of the sentencing court.
d. An inmate whose income level is below $150,000 is exempt from the provisions of this act. For the purposes of this section, “income level” means the average income reported by the inmate, both taxable and nontaxable, in the four years immediately preceding the inmate’s incarceration. If the inmate filed a joint tax return during any of those four years, the income level shall be determined by utilizing only 50 percent of that joint income in any year.
e. If the inmate's financial situation changes subsequent to the preparation of the presentence investigation report, the commissioner shall have discretion to waive the fee or impose a lesser fee if the inmate demonstrates to the commissioner's satisfaction:
(1) that the inmate is unable to pay the fee and is unlikely to become able to pay; or
(2) that imposition of the fee would unduly burden the inmate's dependents.
f. Fees collected pursuant to this section may be used to enhance alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs.
g. The commissioner shall be responsible for establishing and collecting the fee covering the costs of confinement for any inmate confined in a facility defined in section 2 of P.L.1969, c.22 (C.30:4-91.2).
2. a. The State shall have a lien against the property and income of each inmate confined in a State correctional institution for the amount of the fee established in section 1 of this act. Nothing herein shall preclude the State from recovering for any costs of confinement not covered by any lien.
b. To perfect the lien, the State Treasurer or commissioner may issue a certificate to the clerk of the Superior Court stating that the person identified in the certificate is indebted under the provisions of this act in such an amount as shall be stated in the certificate. The certificate shall reference the statute under which the indebtedness arises. Thereupon the clerk shall immediately enter upon the record of docketed judgments the name and date of birth of such inmate as debtor; the State as creditor; the address of such inmate if shown in the certificate; the amount of the debt so certified; a reference to the statute under which the debt is assessed; and the date of making such entries. The docketing of the certificate shall have the same force and effect as a civil judgment docketed in the Superior Court and the State shall have all the remedies and may take all of the proceedings for the collection thereof which may be had or taken upon the recovery of a judgment in action, but without prejudice to any right to appeal. Upon entry by the clerk of the certificate in the record of docketed judgments in accordance with the provisions of this subsection, interest in the amount specified by court rule for post-judgment interest shall accrue from the date of the docketing of the certificate; provided, however, payment of the interest may be waived by the State Treasurer. In the event that the debt remains unpaid following the issuance of the certificate of debt and the State Treasurer takes any further collections action including referral of the matter to the Attorney General or his designee, the fee imposed in lieu of the actual cost of collection may be 20% of the debt or $200, whichever is greater.
c. The clerk of the Superior Court shall enter the certificate of debt in the Civil Judgment and Order Docket, as provided in the Rules of Court.
All certificates of debt and other papers incidental thereto required for the purposes of this section shall be received and recorded by the clerk of the Superior Court, without payment of fees.
d. To discharge any lien or liens filed pursuant to this section, the State Treasurer or his duly constituted agent shall file with the clerk of the Superior Court, a duly acknowledged certificate setting forth the fact that the lien of record should be discharged.
The State Treasurer is authorized to compromise for settlement any lien filed under the provisions of this section for costs of an inmate's confinement. A memorandum of compromise and settlement signed by the State Treasurer shall be sufficient authorization for a complete discharge of the lien.
e. Any person desiring to secure immediate discharge of any lien may deposit with the court cash in an amount sufficient to cover the amount of the lien, or post a bond in an amount and with sureties approved by the court. Upon proper notice to the State of such deposit or bond, a satisfaction of the lien shall be filed forthwith with the clerk of the Superior Court.
f. Any person affected in any manner, whether directly or indirectly by any lien filed under the provisions of this section, and desiring to examine the validity of the lien or the facts and circumstances surrounding the entry of the lien, may do so in an action brought in the county where the lien was filed. The action shall be brought against the State and the court may proceed in the action in a summary manner and enter such judgment as it may deem appropriate.
3. This act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month following enactment.
This bill would require the Commissioner of Corrections to establish and collect a fee each year from inmates in State correctional facilities to pay for the costs of their incarceration. Under the bill, an inmate whose income level is less than $150,000 per year is exempt from paying the fee. The calculation of the inmate’s income level would be based on the average of both taxable and nontaxable income earned in the four years immediately preceding the inmate’s incarceration.
The determination of an inmate's assets, liabilities and dependents would be based on information contained in the presentence investigation report and findings and orders of the sentencing court.
The fee established by the bill would be equivalent to the average cost to the department of incarcerating an inmate for one year. Currently, it costs an average of $28,000 per year to incarcerate one inmate. The fee set by the bill is to be prorated with respect to persons incarcerated for 334 days or less. The calculation of the number of days of incarceration would include time served prior to conviction.
The bill grants the commissioner discretion to waive or reduce the fee if an inmate's financial situation changes subsequent to the preparation of the presentence investigation report and the inmate is no longer able to pay the fee and is unlikely to become able to pay; or the imposition of the fee would unduly burden the inmate's dependents.
Under the bill, the fees could be used for alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs.
The bill also authorizes the commissioner to file a lien against the property of these inmates to ensure payment of the fee and establishes procedures for filing of the lien.
Under the bill, the commissioner would be responsible for establishing and collecting this fee for inmates confined in a halfway house or similar private nonprofit community based residential treatment centers.