LEGISLATIVE FISCAL ESTIMATE

[First Reprint]

SENATE, No. 51

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

217th LEGISLATURE

 

DATED: JUNE 22, 2016

 

 

SUMMARY

 

Synopsis:

Restricts use of isolated confinement in correctional facilities.

Type of Impact:

General Fund expenditure.

Agencies Affected:

Department of Corrections, county jails.

 

Office of Legislative Services Estimate

Fiscal Impact

Year 1 

Year 2 

Year 3 

 

State Cost

Indeterminate – See comments below

 

Local Cost

Indeterminate – See comments below

 

 

 

 

·         The Office of Legislative Services (OLS) concurs that there is not enough information available from the department to determine the fiscal impact of this bill.  The OLS also concurs with the New Jersey Association of Counties that the bill would generate indeterminate costs for the counties.

 

·         The bill restricts the use of isolated confinement in correctional facilities in New Jersey.  Under the bill, correctional facilities include any State or county correctional facility and any State, county, or private facility detaining persons pursuant to an intergovernmental service agreement or other contract with any State, county, or federal agency.

 

·         In a response to a discussion point submitted to the Department of Corrections (DOC) during the FY 2017 budget season the department stated: “The Department has Restrictive Housing units, not isolated confinement units.” The department stated that it cannot estimate the fiscal impact that the restriction of isolated confinement in correctional facilities in New Jersey would have on the operation of its restrictive housing units.

 

·         New Jersey Association of Counties states that the requirements imposed by this bill, although difficult to quantify, would require county jails to hire and utilize additional staff at an indeterminate cost. 

BILL DESCRIPTION

 

     Senate Bill No. 51 (1R) of 2016 restricts the use of isolated confinement in correctional facilities in New Jersey.  Under the bill, correctional facilities include any State or county correctional facility and any State, county, or private facility detaining persons pursuant to an intergovernmental service agreement or other contract with any State, county, or federal agency.

     The bill specifically prohibits inmates incarcerated or detained in correctional facilities from being placed in isolated confinement unless there is reasonable cause to believe that the inmate or others would be at risk of serious harm as evidenced by recent threats or conduct, and any less restrictive intervention would be insufficient to reduce that risk.

     The correctional facility is responsible for establishing the justification for isolated confinement by clear and convincing evidence.  Inmates may not be placed in isolated confinement for non-disciplinary reasons.  Inmates in correctional facilities are required to receive a personal and comprehensive medical and mental health examination, conducted by a clinician before being placed in isolated confinement.  However, in county correctional facilities, a preliminary examination is to be conducted within 12 hours of confinement and a clinical examination is to be conducted within 48 hours of confinement.

     Under the bill, initial procedures and reviews providing timely, fair, and meaningful opportunities for an inmate to contest the confinement are to be made available.  The procedures are to include the right to an initial hearing within 72 hours of placement and reviews every 15 days thereafter, in the absence of exceptional circumstances, unavoidable delays, or reasonable postponements; the right to appear at the hearing; the right to be represented at the hearing; an independent hearing officer; and a written statement of reasons for the decision made at the hearing.

     Except in cases involving medical isolation, the final decision to place an inmate in isolated confinement is to be made by the facility administrator.  An inmate is to be removed from isolated confinement if the administrator determines that the inmate no longer meets the standard for isolated confinement.

     A clinician is required to evaluate each inmate placed in isolated confinement in a correctional facility on a daily basis, in a confidential setting outside of the cell whenever possible, to determine whether the inmate is a member of a vulnerable population.  However, in county correctional facilities, inmates in isolated confinement are to be evaluated by medical staff as frequently as clinically indicated, but in no event less than weekly.  An inmate determined to be a member of a vulnerable population is to be immediately removed from isolated confinement to an appropriate placement.

     Under the bill, an inmate is a member of a vulnerable population if he or she is 21 years of age or younger; is 65 years of age or older; has a disability based on a mental illness, a history of psychiatric hospitalization, or has recently exhibited conduct, including but not limited to serious self-mutilation, indicating the need for further observation or evaluation to determine the presence of mental illness; has a developmental disability; has a serious medical condition which cannot effectively be treated in isolated confinement; is pregnant, is in the postpartum period, or has recently suffered a miscarriage or terminated a pregnancy; has a significant visual or auditory impairment; or is perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or intersex.

     An inmate is not to be placed in isolated confinement for more than 15 consecutive days, or for more than 20 days during any 60-day period under the amended bill.  Cells or other holding or living spaces used for isolated confinement are to be properly ventilated, lit, temperature-controlled, clean, and equipped with properly functioning sanitary fixtures.  A correctional facility is to maximize the amount of time that an inmate in isolated confinement spends outside of the cell by providing, as appropriate, access to recreation, education, clinically appropriate treatment therapies, skill-building activities, and social interaction with staff and other inmates.  The bill provides that an inmate in isolated confinement is not to be denied access to food, water, or any other basic necessity and is not to be denied access to appropriate medical care, including emergency medical care.  In addition, an inmate is not to be directly released from isolated confinement into the community during the final 180 days of the inmate’s term of incarceration, unless it is necessary for the safety of the inmate, other inmates, or the public.

     Under the bill, an inmate is not to be placed in isolated confinement pending investigation of a disciplinary offense unless the inmate poses a danger to the inmate, staff, other inmates, or the public or the facility administrator has granted approval in an emergency situation.  An inmate’s placement is to be reviewed within 24 hours by a supervisory employee who was not involved in the initial placement decision.  If the inmate demonstrates good behavior while in isolated confinement, the inmate is to be considered for release to the general population.  If the inmate is found guilty of the disciplinary offense, the inmate’s good behavior is to be considered in determining the appropriate penalty.

     The bill defines isolated confinement as “confinement of an inmate in a correctional facility, pursuant to disciplinary, administrative, protective, investigative, medical, or other classification, in a cell or similarly confined holding or living space, alone or with other inmates, for approximately 20 hours or more per day with severely restricted activity, movement, and social interaction.”

     The bill provides for certain exceptions to the restrictions on isolated confinement such as facility-wide lock downs, emergency confinement, medical isolation, and protective custody.

 

 

FISCAL ANALYSIS

 

EXECUTIVE BRANCH

 

Department of Corrections

      While the department did not respond to this fiscal note request, in a response to a discussion point submitted to the Department of Corrections (DOC) during the FY 2017 budget season the department stated: “The Department has Restrictive Housing units, not isolated confinement units.” The department stated that it cannot estimate the fiscal impact the restriction of isolated confinement in correctional facilities in New Jersey would have on the operation of its restrictive housing units.

 

New Jersey Association of Counties

      The New Jersey Association of Counties states that the county jails have identified the following bill provisions which could have potential cost implications:

1.      A clinician is required to conduct a “clinical examination” within 48 hours of incarceration. 

2.      Medical staff is required to conduct “mental health evaluations” with a preliminary evaluation within 12 hours of confinement. 

3.      Additional staff is required for treatment therapies and skill-building activities. 

4.      The jail is prohibited from directly releasing an inmate from isolated confinement to the community during the final 180 days of the inmate’s incarceration.

5.      Reducing the use of solitary confinement will require opening inefficient “Step Down Units.”

The association states that although difficult to quantify, these requirements would require county jails to hire and utilize additional staff at an indeterminate cost. 

 

OFFICE OF LEGISLATIVE SERVICES

 

      The OLS concurs that there is not enough information available from the department to determine the fiscal impact of this bill.  The OLS also concurs with the New Jersey Association of Counties that the bill would generate indeterminate costs for the counties.

 

 

Section:

Judiciary

Analyst:

Anne Raughley

Principal Fiscal Analyst

Approved:

Frank W. Haines III

Legislative Budget and Finance Officer

 

 

This fiscal estimate has been prepared pursuant to P.L.1980, c.67 (C.52:13B-6 et seq.).