Bill Text: MS HB813 | 2020 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: State Correctional Facilities Monitoring Unit; establish.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 5-0)

Status: (Failed) 2020-03-03 - Died In Committee [HB813 Detail]

Download: Mississippi-2020-HB813-Introduced.html

MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

2020 Regular Session

To: Corrections

By: Representatives Rosebud, Clarke, Anthony, Bell (65th), Yates

House Bill 813

AN ACT TO ESTABLISH THE STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES MONITORING UNIT; TO PROVIDE THAT THE MONITORING UNIT SHALL BE WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY; TO PROVIDE THAT THE MONITORING UNIT SHALL PROVIDE CERTAIN INVESTIGATION AND EVALUATION OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES AS WELL AS ANY PRIVATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES THAT ARE UTILIZED BY THE STATE TO HOUSE STATE OFFENDERS; TO REQUIRE THE MONITORING UNIT TO MAKE AVAILABLE CERTAIN REPORTS PERTAINING TO ITS MONITORING OF THE STATE CORRECTIONAL FACILITIES; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY TO CONTRACT WITH A CORRECTIONAL FACILITY EXPERT WHO SHALL PROVIDE CERTAIN TRAINING FOR THE MONITORS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

     BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

     SECTION 1.  (1)  There is established the State Correctional Facilities Monitoring Unit within the Department of Public Safety. The unit shall be responsible for investigating and evaluating the correctional facilities, which includes private correctional facilities, that are utilized by the state to house state offenders to ensure that the facilities operate in compliance with national best practices, state and federal law.  All monitors shall be employees of the Department of Public Safety.  The inspections by the unit shall encompass the following:

          (a)  To review and evaluate (i) all procedures set by correctional facilities and (ii) all records containing information related to the operations of the correctional facilities;

          (b)  To review and investigate all complaints filed with the monitoring unit concerning inmate's treatment in correctional facilities;

          (c)  To conduct quarterly monitoring visits of all correctional facilities.  The monitor shall have access to an entire correctional facility and shall conduct confidential interviews with inmates and facility staff;

          (d)  To advise a correctional facility on how to meet the needs of inmates who require immediate attention;

          (e)  To provide technical assistance and advice to correctional facilities that will assist the facilities in complying with state and federal law.

     To carry out the duties in this subsection (1) a monitor may consult with any administrator, employee, inmate, expert or other individual in the course of monitoring or investigating.  In addition, the monitor may review court documents and other confidential records as necessary to fulfill these duties.

     (2)  Additional duties of the monitoring unit are as follows:

          (a)  To make available on a quarterly basis to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and each member of the Legislature  a report that describes:

              (i)  The work of the monitoring unit;

              (ii)  The results of any review or investigation undertaken by the monitoring unit;

              (iii)  Any allegations of abuse or injury of an inmate; and

              (iv)  Any problems concerning the administration of a correctional facility.

     The reports described in this subsection shall keep the names of all inmates and employees confidential.

          (b)  To promote awareness among the public and the inmates held in a correctional facility by providing the following:

              (i)  How the monitoring unit may be contacted;

              (ii)  The purpose of the monitoring unit; and

              (iii)  The services that the monitoring unit provides.

     (3)  The records of a monitor shall be confidential.  Any inmate, staff member or other interested individual may communicate to a monitor in person, by mail, by phone, or any other means.  The identity of reporters shall remain confidential.

     SECTION 2.  The Department of Public Safety shall contract with a correctional facility expert who has substantial experience in the administration of constitutionally compliant correctional facilities and significant experience monitoring correctional facilities for a local jurisdiction, state, or as a court-appointed monitor.  The contractor shall provide training to all of the State Correctional Facilities Monitoring Unit employees within six (6) months of the effective date of this act.  All employees of the monitoring unit must successfully complete the training as determined by the correctional facility expert through the use of a pretest and posttest, facility tour, or any other criteria the expert selects.  The training shall include interviewing skills, report writing, and information regarding standard practices in correctional facilities.  In addition to the training for the State Correctional Facilities Monitoring Unit, the Department of Public Safety shall arrange for at least eight (8) hours of training with the correctional facility expert for the administrators of the state correctional facilities, including administrators of private correctional facilities that are utilized by the state to house state offenders.  The Department of Public Safety shall ensure that its contract with the correctional facility expert includes a provision for technical assistance to the staff of the State Correctional Facilities Monitoring Unit for at least six (6) months after the completion of the training.

     SECTION 3.  The Department of Public Safety is authorized to  establish a State Correctional Facilities Monitoring Unit pursuant to Sections 1 and 2 of this act.

     SECTION 4.  Section 3 of this act shall be codified in Chapter 1, Title 45, Mississippi Code of 1972.

     SECTION 5.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.

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