ASSEMBLY, No. 1419

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2016 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  GORDON M. JOHNSON

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblyman  BENJIE E. WIMBERLY

District 35 (Bergen and Passaic)

 

Co-Sponsored by:

Assemblywoman Mosquera

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Requires lowest possible price not exceeding certain cap for inmate telephone calls.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

  


An Act concerning inmate telephone charges and supplementing Title 30 of the Revised Statutes.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.    For the purposes of this act, “private correctional facility” means any private facility detaining persons pursuant to any intergovernmental service agreement or other contract with any federal, State, or county agency, including but not limited to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and including any private facility authorized under the provisions of P.L.1999, c.243 (C.30:4-91.9 et seq.). 

 

     2.    a.  All telephone service contracts for inmates in State or county correctional facilities shall be subject to the procurement provisions set forth in chapter 34 of Title 52 of the Revised Statutes and chapter 11 of Title 40A of the New Jersey Statutes; provided, however, the State Treasurer or appropriate person on behalf of the county or private correctional facility shall contract with the qualified vendor who proposes the lowest per minute rate not exceeding the maximum rate allowed by the Federal Communications Commission Order for state prisons, as specified in In the Matter of Rates for Interstate Inmate Calling Services, Second Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, WC Docket 12-375, FCC 15-136 (adopted Oct. 22, 2015) or successor order for debit, prepaid, and collect calls and who does not bill to any party any service charge or additional fee exceeding the per minute rate, including, but not limited to, any per call surcharge, account set up fee, bill statement fee, monthly account maintenance charge, or refund fee.   

     b.    A State, county, or private correctional facility shall not accept or receive a commission or any other payment from the telephone service provider based upon an amount the provider billed for telephone calls made by inmates in the correctional facility. 

     c.     Telephone services made available through a prepaid or collect call system established pursuant to section 3 of this act shall include international calls at reasonable rates subject to Federal Communications Commission rules and regulations, but not to exceed 25 cents per minute. 

 

     3.    a.  The Department of Corrections, each county correctional facility, and each private correctional facility shall make available either a prepaid or collect call system, or a combination thereof, for telephone services for inmates. 

     b.    Under a prepaid system, funds may be deposited into an inmate account in order to pay for telephone calls, provided that nothing in this section shall require the department, county, or private correctional facility to provide or administer a prepaid system. 

     c.     The provider of the inmate telephone service, as an additional means of payment, shall permit the recipient of inmate collect calls to establish an account with that provider in order to deposit funds for advance payment of those collect calls. 

     d.    For the purposes of this section, a “collect call system” shall mean a call system pursuant to which recipients are billed for the cost of an accepted telephone call initiated by an inmate. 

 

     4.    The department shall establish rules and regulations or departmental procedures to ensure that any inmate telephone call system established by this act provides reasonable security measures to preserve the safety and security of each State and county correctional facility, staff member, and person outside a facility who may receive inmate telephone calls. 

 

     5.    Sections 1, 2, and 4 of this act shall take effect immediately   and section 2 shall apply to any new or renewal contract for inmate telephone services in effect on or after April 10, 2015; section 3 of this act shall take effect on the first day of the fourth month after enactment. 

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill requires the State and counties to contract with the lowest bidder for intrastate telephone service contracts for inmates in State and county correctional facilities.

Under the bill, the maximum per minute rate for calls may not exceed the maximum rate allowed by order of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for out-of-State calls. Furthermore, a bidder would not be authorized to impose a service charge or additional fee exceeding the per minute rate, including a per call surcharge, account set up fee, bill statement fee, monthly account maintenance charge, or refund fee. The bill also requires international calls to be made available at reasonable rates subject to Federal Communications Commission rules and regulations, but not to exceed 25 cents per minute.

     This bill prohibits a State department, county, or private correctional facility from accepting or receiving a commission or any other payment from the telephone service provider based upon an amount the provider billed for telephone calls made by inmates in the correctional facility. A “private correctional facility” is defined in the bill as a private facility detaining persons pursuant to any intergovernmental service agreement or other contract with any federal, State, or county agency, including but not limited to United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement and residential community release programs (halfway houses).

     This bill requires the Department of Corrections (DOC), the counties, and private correctional facilities to make available a prepaid or collect call system, or a combination of the two, for telephone services. Under a prepaid or “debit” system, funds may be deposited into an inmate account in order to pay for telephone calls, as long as the department, county, or private correctional facility is not required to provide for or administer that prepaid system. The provider of the inmate telephone service, as an additional means of payment, is to permit the recipient of inmate collect calls to establish an account with 2 that provider in order to deposit funds for advance payment of those collect calls.

     Finally, the bill requires the DOC to establish rules and regulations or departmental procedures to ensure that any inmate telephone call system established by the substitute provides reasonable security measures to preserve the safety and security of State and county correctional facilities, staff members, and those outside a facility who may receive inmate telephone calls.