ASSEMBLY, No. 1025

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

218th LEGISLATURE

 

PRE-FILED FOR INTRODUCTION IN THE 2018 SESSION

 


 

Sponsored by:

Assemblyman  GORDON M. JOHNSON

District 37 (Bergen)

Assemblywoman  ELIZABETH MAHER MUOIO

District 15 (Hunterdon and Mercer)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Imposes requirements on video visitation service contracts for inmates in certain correctional facilities; requires correctional facilities to allow contact visits.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     Introduced Pending Technical Review by Legislative Counsel.

   


An Act concerning inmate visitation 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.  All video visitation service contracts for inmates in State, county, or private correctional facilities, as defined in section 1 of P.L.2016, c.37 (C.30:4-8.11), 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 a qualified vendor who charges a per minute rate for video visitation, including video visitation that is accessed by visitors from a location other than a correctional facility, that shall not exceed 11 cents per minute, is the lowest responsible bidder, and does not bill to any party any service charge or additional fee exceeding the per minute rate.

     As used in this subsection:

     “Lowest price” means the least possible amount that meets all requirements of the request of a contracting agent set forth in the Request for Proposals.

     “Lowest responsible bidder” means the bidder: (1) whose response to a request for bids offers the lowest price and is responsive; and (2) who is responsible.

     b.    A State, county, or private correctional facility shall not accept or receive a commission or impose a surcharge for video visitation usage by inmates in addition to the charges imposed by the video visitation service provider.  For the purposes of this subsection, "commission" means any form of monetary payment, in-kind payment requirement, gift, exchange of services or goods, fee, or technology allowance. 

     c.     Any contract entered into pursuant to subsection a. of this section shall include a term that requires monetary penalties to be imposed on a vendor who fails to maintain consistent and reliable quality of the video visitation service.

     d.    A video visitation service provider shall refund, in a timely manner, the charges imposed for: (1) a scheduled video visitation that does not occur for any reason other than the fault of the visitor; or (2) any video visitation in which communication between the inmate and the visitor is substantially impaired due to low quality audio or video.

 

     2.  a.  A State, county, or private correctional facility, as defined in section 1 of P.L.2016, c.37 (C.30:4-8.11), shall not impose a charge for video visitation between an inmate and the inmate’s attorney, a representative of the attorney, or a member of the clergy.  A representative of the attorney shall include, but not be limited to, investigators, investigative aides, expert witnesses, paralegals, and law students.

     b.    An inmate incarcerated in a State, county, or private correctional facility shall be permitted to have contact visits with approved visitors.  A State, county, or private correctional facility may only impose on those visits reasonable conditions necessary for safety and security within the correctional facility. 

     c.     A State, county, or private correctional facility shall implement reasonable visiting hours for contact visits and video visitation.

 

     3.    The Commissioner of Corrections shall adopt rules and regulations pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), as are necessary to implement this act.

 

     4.    This act shall take effect immediately and section 1 shall apply to any new or renewal contract for inmate video visitation services in effect on or after the date of enactment.

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill imposes requirements on video visitation service contracts for inmates in State, county, and private correctional facilities and requires correctional facilities to allow inmates to have contact visits.

     Under the provisions of this bill, the State Treasurer or other appropriate person on behalf of the county or private correctional facility is to contract with a vendor who charges a per minute rate for video visitation, including video visitation that is accessed by visitors from a location other than a correctional facility, which is not to exceed 11 cents per minute and who is the lowest responsible bidder.  A vendor is not to bill any service charge or additional fee exceeding the per minute rate.

     The bill also provides that a State, county, or private correctional facility is not permitted to receive a commission or impose a surcharge for video visitation usage by inmates in addition to the charges imposed by the service provider.  Further, under the bill, the contract is to include a term that requires monetary penalties to be imposed on a vendor who does not maintain consistent and reliable quality of the video visitation service.

     In addition, a video visitation service provider is required to refund, in a timely manner, any charges imposed: (1) for a scheduled video visitation that does not occur for any reason other than the fault of the visitor; or (2) any video visitation in which communication between the inmate and the visitor is substantially impaired due to low quality audio or video.

     The bill prohibits a State, county, or private correctional facility from imposing a charge for video visitation between an inmate and the inmate’s attorney, a representative of the attorney, or a member of the clergy.  In addition, correctional facilities are required to allow inmates to have contact visits with approved visitors and may only impose reasonable conditions necessary for safety and security within the correctional facility.  Finally, correctional facilities are required to implement reasonable visiting hours for both contact visits and video visitation.