SENATE, No. 842




DATED:  JANUARY 25, 2018


      The Senate Law and Public Safety Committee reports favorably Senate Bill No. 842.

      As reported by the committee, this bill requires the Commissioner of Corrections to oversee random drug testing of all State inmates in residential community release programs, including halfway houses.  The bill also authorizes the commissioner to oversee this testing for county inmates in these programs if requested by the county.

     As defined in the bill, a “residential community release program” includes assessment and treatment centers, halfway houses, and substance use disorder treatment programs operating under the authority of the Department of Corrections (DOC).  It also includes any non-profit or for-profit subcontractor that operates a residential community release program under the authority of the department.

     The bill also specifically requires the commissioner to supply drug testing kits and directs DOC employees to administer the tests. Under the bill, a drug test is required to screen for all controlled dangerous substances or controlled substance analogs.

     According to the sponsor, this bill is in response to the continuing problem of drug abuse by inmates in halfway houses in this State, such as Bo Robinson.  Under the bill, random drug testing of all State inmates housed at halfway houses, and county inmates in counties which choose to participate, would be directly administered by DOC employees rather than employees of the operator of the halfway house.  The bill also requires drug tests to screen for all controlled dangerous substances in response to the increased use by inmates of designer drugs, such as synthetic marijuana, which may go undetected under current drug testing technologies. 

      This bill was pre-filed for introduction in the 2018-2019 session pending technical review.  As reported, the bill includes the changes required by technical review, which has been performed.