Bill Text: NJ S2953 | 2020-2021 | Regular Session | Introduced


Bill Title: Expands scope of inmate reentry assistance and benefits.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Democrat 3-0)

Status: (Introduced) 2020-09-21 - Introduced in the Senate, Referred to Senate Law and Public Safety Committee [S2953 Detail]

Download: New_Jersey-2020-S2953-Introduced.html

SENATE, No. 2953

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

219th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED SEPTEMBER 21, 2020

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  STEPHEN M. SWEENEY

District 3 (Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem)

Senator  SANDRA B. CUNNINGHAM

District 31 (Hudson)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Expands scope of inmate reentry assistance and benefits.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning services for certain inmates and amending and supplementing various parts of the statutory law. 

 

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

 

     1.    Section 2 of P.L.2009, c.329 (C.30:1B-6.2) is amended to read as follows: 

     2.    The Commissioner of Corrections shall provide to each inmate at least 10 days prior to release from a State correctional facility:

     a.     A copy of the inmate's criminal history record and written information on the inmate's right to have his criminal records expunged under chapter 52 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes;

     b.    General written information on the inmate's right to vote under R.S.19:4-1;

     c.     General written information on the availability of programs, including faith-based and secular programs, that would assist in removing barriers to the inmate's employment or participation in vocational or educational rehabilitative programs, including but not limited to, information concerning the "Rehabilitated Convicted Offenders Act," P.L.1968, c.282 (C.2A:168A-1 et seq.) and the certificate of rehabilitation under P.L.2007, c.327 (C.2A:168A-7 et seq.);

     d.    A detailed written record of the inmate's participation in educational, training, employment, and medical or other treatment programs while the inmate was incarcerated;

     e.     A written accounting of the fines, assessments, surcharges, restitution, penalties, child support arrearages, and any other obligations due and payable by the inmate upon release;

     f.     (Deleted by amendment, P.L.2020, c.45)

     g.    A copy of the inmate's birth certificate if the inmate was born in New Jersey;

     h.    Assistance in obtaining a Social Security card;

     i.     A one-day New Jersey bus or rail pass;

     j.     A [two-week] three-month supply of prescription medication and to the extent consistent with clinical guidelines, an additional 30 day prescription order and two additional refills;

     k.    General written information concerning child support, including child support payments owed by the inmate, information on how to seek child support payments and information on where to seek services regarding child support, child custody, and establishing parentage; and

     l.     (1) A medical discharge summary, which shall include instructions on how to obtain from the commissioner a copy of the inmate's full medical record.  Upon request from the inmate, the commissioner shall provide a copy of the inmate's full medical record in a safe and secure manner, at no charge to the inmate. 

     (2)   Within 90 days of the effective date of this act, the commissioner, in consultation with the State Board of Medical Examiners, shall adopt rules and regulations, pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), to ensure that these records are expeditiously and securely provided, in a manner consistent with the provision of medical records by other providers. 

     m.   A benefits card approved for the purpose of obtaining benefits under the:

     (1)   Medicaid program, established pursuant to P.L.1968, c.413 (C.30:4D-1 et seq.);

     (2)   Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, established pursuant to the federal "Food and Nutrition Act of 2008," Pub.L.88-525 (7 U.S.C.s.2011 et seq.); and

     (3)   Work First New Jersey program, established pursuant to P.L.1997, c.38 (C.44:10-55 et seq.), which shall include, for inmates who are unable to identify a residence at the time of release, emergency assistance benefits issued to Work First New Jersey recipients pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1997, c.14 (C.44:10-51). 

(cf:  P.L.2020, c.45, s.1)

 

     2.    Section 2 of P.L.2020, c.45 (C.30:1B-6.15) is amended to read as follows: 

     2.    a.  The Commissioner of Corrections shall provide a non-driver identification card issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to each inmate, free of charge, as soon as practicable, but not less than 10 days prior to the inmate's release from a State correctional facility.  The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission shall issue the identification card and accept a former inmate's Department of Corrections identification card as two points for the purposes of applying for the identification card. 

     b.    An inmate's Department of Corrections identification card shall be accepted by all State, county, and municipal agencies and New Jersey nonprofit organizations for six months following the date of release from incarceration to allow the released inmate to gain access to services for which the inmate is deemed eligible including, but not limited to, establishing the inmate's identity.

     [Whenever the]  c.  Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of this section, whenever Motor Vehicle Commission agencies are closed during a declared public health emergency, pursuant to the "Emergency Health Powers Act," P.L.2005, c.222 (C.26:13-1 et seq.), a state of emergency, pursuant to P.L.1942, c.251 (C.App.A:9-33 et seq.), or both, the inmate's Department of Corrections identification card shall be accepted by all State, county, and municipal agencies and New Jersey [nonprofits] nonprofit organizations in a manner as to allow the [releasee] released inmate to gain access to services for which [they are] the inmate is deemed eligible for the duration of the public health emergency. 

(cf:  P.L.2020, c.45, s.2)

 

     3.    Section 4 of P.L.2020, c.45 (C.30:1B-6.16) is amended to read as follows:

     4.    a.  The Commissioner of Corrections shall ensure that an inmate is assisted with completing, obtaining any required signatures or authorizations for, and forwarding for processing to the Department of Human Services as soon as practicable but not less than 30 days prior to an inmate's release from incarceration, an online application for enrollment in the Medicaid program, established pursuant to P.L.1968, c.413 (C.30:4D-1 et seq.).

     b.    In addition to the requirements of subsection a. of this section, the Commissioner of Corrections shall also ensure that the inmate is assisted in completing, obtaining any required signatures or authorizations for, and forwarding for processing to the appropriate county welfare agency or board of social services, as soon as practicable but not less than 30 days prior to an inmate's release from incarceration, online applications for enrollment in the following programs:

     (1)   the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, established pursuant to the federal "Food and Nutrition Act of 2008," Pub.L.88-525 (7 U.S.C.s.2011 et seq.); and

     (2)   the Work First New Jersey program, established pursuant to P.L.1997, c.38 (C.44:10-55 et seq.), which shall include , for inmates who are unable to identify a residence at the time of release, the application for emergency assistance benefits issued to Work First New Jersey recipients pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1997, c.14 (C.44:10-51).

     c.     The Department of Human Services shall be required to accept and process the online applications for Medicaid received from the Department of Corrections pursuant to subsection a. of this section.

     d.    If an inmate is unable to identify a residence at the time of application for benefits pursuant to this section, the Commissioner of Corrections shall ensure that the address of the appropriate regional non-profit inmate reentry organization is used for the purposes of establishing proof of residence to meet any applicable eligibility requirements.

     e.     All State, county, and municipal agencies, for the purposes of establishing applicable eligibility requirements, shall:

     (1)   accept the address of the appropriate regional non-profit inmate reentry organization for an inmate who is unable to identify a residence at the time of application for benefits; and

     (2)   accept an inmate's Department of Corrections identification card to establish the inmate's identity.

     f.     An inmate who appears to be eligible for benefits under the Work First New Jersey program based on the inmate's certification of income, resources, and family composition, and based on other information immediately available at the time of application, shall be deemed presumptively eligible for Work First New Jersey assistance and immediate need assistance and shall receive this assistance for a period of not less than 45 days following the inmate's release from incarceration.  

(cf: P.L.2020, c.45, s.4)

 

     4.    Section 5 of P.L.2020, c.45 (C.30:1B-6.17) is amended to read as follows: 

     5.    a.  The Commissioner of Corrections shall provide to the appropriate county welfare agency or board of social services, in advance of an inmate's release, the inmate's name, release date, and contact information, which shall include, but not be limited to, a telephone number or an email address.

     b.    The commissioner shall provide to the applicable regional non-profit inmate reentry organization, in advance of an inmate's release, the information required in subsection a. of this section.

(cf:  P. L.2020, c.45, s.5)

 

     5.    (New section)  a.  The chief executive officer, warden, or keeper of each county correctional facility shall provide to each inmate at least 30 days prior to release from a facility: 

     (1)   a copy of the inmate's criminal history record and written information on the inmate's right to have the inmate's criminal records expunged under chapter 52 of Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes; 

     (2)   general written information on the inmate's right to vote under R.S.19:4-1;

     (3)   general written information on the availability of programs, including faith-based and secular programs, that would assist in removing barriers to the inmate's employment or participation in vocational or educational rehabilitative programs, including but not limited to, information concerning the "Rehabilitated Convicted Offenders Act," P.L.1968, c.282 (C.2A:168A-1 et seq.) and the certificate of rehabilitation under P.L.2007, c.327 (C.2A:168A-7 et seq.);

     (4)   a detailed written record of the inmate's participation in educational, training, employment, and medical or other treatment programs while the inmate was incarcerated;

     (5)   a written accounting of the fines, assessments, surcharges, restitution, penalties, child support arrearages, and any other obligations due and payable by the inmate upon release;

     (6)   a copy of the inmate's birth certificate if the inmate was born in New Jersey;

     (7)   assistance in obtaining a Social Security card; 

     (8)   a one-day New Jersey bus or rail pass;

     (9)   a three-month supply of prescription medication and, to the extent consistent with clinical guidelines, an additional 30 day prescription order and two additional refills;

     (10)    general written information concerning child support, including child support payments owed by the inmate, information on how to seek child support payments and information on where to seek services regarding child support, child custody, and establishing parentage;

     (11)    a medical discharge summary, which shall include instructions on how to obtain from the superintendent a copy of the inmate's full medical record; upon request from the inmate, the superintendent shall provide a copy of the inmate's full medical record in a safe and secure manner, at no charge to the inmate;  the superintendent shall comply with rules and regulations, adopted pursuant to the "Administrative Procedure Act," P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.), that ensure that these records are expeditiously and securely provided in a manner consistent with the provision of medical records by other providers; and 

     (12) a benefits card approved for the purpose of obtaining benefits under the:

     (a)   Medicaid program, established pursuant to P.L.1968, c.413 (C.30:4D-1 et seq.);

     (b)   Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, established pursuant to the federal "Food and Nutrition Act of 2008," Pub.L.88-525 (7 U.S.C.s.2011 et seq.); and

     (c)   Work First New Jersey program, established pursuant to P.L.1997, c.38 (C.44:10-55 et seq.), which shall include, for inmates who are unable to identify a residence at the time of release,  emergency assistance benefits issued to Work First New Jersey recipients pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1997, c.14 (C.44:10-51).

     b.    If an inmate is at any time scheduled for release from a county correctional facility in less than 30 days, the superintendent shall comply with the provisions of subsection a. of this section at least 48 hours prior to the inmate's release.

 

     6.    (New section)  a.  The chief executive officer, warden, or keeper of each county correctional facility shall provide a non-driver identification card issued by the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission to each county inmate, free of charge, as soon as practicable, but not less than 10 days prior to the inmate's release from the county correctional facility.  The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission shall issue the identification card and accept a former inmate's county correctional facility identification card as two points for the purposes of applying for the identification card. 

     b.    An inmate's county correctional facility identification card shall be accepted by all State, county, and municipal agencies and New Jersey nonprofit organizations for six months following the date of release from incarceration to allow the released inmate to gain access to services for which the inmate is deemed eligible including, but not limited to, establishing the inmate's identity.

     c.     Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection b. of this section, whenever the Motor Vehicle Commission agencies are closed during a declared public health emergency, pursuant to the "Emergency Health Powers Act," P.L.2005, c.222 (C.26:13-1 et seq.), a state of emergency, pursuant to P.L.1942, c.251 (C.App.A:9-33 et seq.), or both, the inmate's Department of Corrections identification card shall be accepted by all State, county, and municipal agencies and New Jersey nonprofit organizations in a manner as to allow the released inmate to gain access to services for which they are deemed eligible for the duration of the public health emergency.

 

     7.    (New section)  a.  As soon as practicable but not less than 30 days prior to an inmate's release from incarceration, the chief executive officer, warden, or keeper of each county correctional facility shall ensure that an inmate is assisted with completing, obtaining any required signatures or authorizations for, and forwarding for processing to the Department of Human Services an online application for enrollment in the Medicaid program, established pursuant to P.L.1968, c.413 (C.30:4D-1 et seq.).

     b.    In addition to the requirements of subsection a. of this section, the chief executive officer, warden, or keeper also shall ensure that the inmate is assisted in completing, obtaining any required signatures or authorizations for, and forwarding for processing to the appropriate county welfare agency or board of social services, as soon as practicable but not less than 30 days prior to an inmate's release from incarceration, online applications for enrollment in the following programs:

     (1)   the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, established pursuant to the federal "Food and Nutrition Act of 2008," Pub.L.88-525 (7 U.S.C.s.2011 et seq.); and

     (2)   the Work First New Jersey program, established pursuant to P.L.1997, c.38 (C.44:10-55 et seq.), which shall include , for inmates who are unable to identify a residence at the time of release, the application for emergency assistance benefits issued to Work First New Jersey recipients pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1997, c.14 (C.44:10-51).

     c.     The Department of Human Services shall be required to accept and process the online applications for Medicaid received from the Department of Corrections pursuant to subsection a. of this section. 

     d.    If an inmate is unable to identify a residence at the time of application for benefits pursuant to this section, the chief executive officer, warden, or keeper of each county correctional facility shall ensure that the address of the appropriate regional non-profit inmate reentry organization is used for the purposes of establishing proof of residence to meet any applicable eligibility requirements.

     e.     All State, county, and municipal agencies, for the purposes of establishing applicable eligibility requirements, shall:

     (1)   accept the address of the appropriate regional non-profit inmate reentry organization for an inmate who is unable to identify a residence at the time of application for benefits; and

     (2)   accept an inmate's county correctional facility identification card to establish the inmate's identity.

     f.     An inmate who appears to be eligible for benefits under the Work First New Jersey program based on the inmate's certification of income, resources, and family composition, and based on other information immediately available at the time of application, shall be deemed presumptively eligible for Work First New Jersey assistance and immediate need assistance and shall receive this assistance for a period of not less than 45 days following the inmate's release from incarceration. 

 

     8.    (New section)  An inmate released from a State or county correctional facility shall be authorized to use the address of a nonprofit inmate reentry organization approved by the Department of Community Affairs as a mailing address in an application for  benefits under the:

     a.     Medicaid program, established pursuant to P.L.1968, c.413 (C.30:4D-1 et seq.);

     b.    Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, established pursuant to the federal "Food and Nutrition Act of 2008," Pub.L.88-525 (7 U.S.C.s.2011 et seq.); and

     c.     Work First New Jersey program, established pursuant to P.L.1997, c.38 (C.44:10-55 et seq.). 

 

     9.    Section 5 of P.L.1997, c.14 (C.44:10-48) is amended to read as follows:

     5.    a.  Only those persons who are United States citizens or eligible aliens shall be eligible for benefits under the Work First New Jersey program. Single adults or couples without dependent children who are legal aliens who meet federal requirements and have applied for citizenship, shall not receive benefits for more than six months unless (1) they attain citizenship, or (2) they have passed the English language and civics components for citizenship, and are awaiting final determination of citizenship by the federal Immigration and Naturalization Service.

     b.    The following persons shall not be eligible for assistance and shall not be considered to be members of an assistance unit:

     (1)   non-needy caretakers, except that the eligibility of a dependent child shall not be affected by the income or resources of a non-needy caretaker;

     (2)   Supplemental Security Income recipients, except for the purposes of receiving emergency assistance benefits pursuant to section 8 of P.L.1997, c.14 (C.44:10-51);

     (3)   illegal aliens;

     (4)   other aliens who are not eligible aliens;

     (5)   a person absent from the home who is incarcerated in a federal, State, county or local corrective facility or under the custody of correctional authorities, except as provided by regulation of the commissioner;

     (6)   a person who: is fleeing to avoid prosecution, custody or confinement after conviction, under the laws of the jurisdiction from which the person has fled, for a crime or an attempt to commit a crime which is a felony or a high misdemeanor under the laws of the jurisdiction from which the person has fled; or is violating a condition of probation or parole imposed under federal or state law;

     (7)   [a person convicted on or after August 22, 1996 under federal or state law of any offense which is classified as a felony or crime, as appropriate, under the laws of the jurisdiction involved and which has as an element the possession, use, or distribution of a controlled substance as defined in section 102(6) of the federal "Controlled Substances Act" (21 U.S.C. s.802 (6)), who would otherwise be eligible for general public assistance pursuant to P.L.1947, c.156 (C.44:8-107 et seq.); except that such a person who is convicted of any such offense which has as an element the possession or use only of such a controlled substance may be eligible for Work First New Jersey general public assistance benefits if the person enrolls in or has completed a licensed residential or outpatient drug treatment program.  An otherwise eligible individual who has a past drug conviction shall be eligible for general public assistance without enrolling in or completing a drug treatment program if either: (1) an appropriate treatment program is not available; or (2) the person is excused from enrolling in a treatment program for good cause pursuant to regulation.

     Eligibility for benefits for a person entering a licensed drug treatment program which does not operate in a State correctional facility or county jail shall commence upon the person's enrollment in the drug treatment program, and shall continue during the person's active participation in, and upon completion of, the drug treatment program, except that during the person's active participation in a drug treatment program and the first 60 days after completion of a drug treatment program, the commissioner shall provide for testing of the person to determine if the person is free of any controlled substance.  If the person is determined to not be free of any controlled substance during the 60-day period, the person's eligibility for benefits pursuant to this paragraph shall be terminated; except that this provision shall not apply to the use of prescription drugs by a person who is actively participating in a drug treatment program, as prescribed by the drug treatment program.  The commissioner shall adopt regulations to carry out the provisions of this paragraph, which shall include the criteria for determining active participation in and completion of a drug treatment program.

     Eligibility for benefits for a person who completes a licensed residential drug treatment program which operates in a State correctional facility or county jail, in accordance with section 1 of P.L.2014, c.1 (C.26:2B-40), shall commence upon release from incarceration.

     Cash benefits, less a personal needs allowance, for a person receiving general public assistance benefits under the Work First New Jersey program who is enrolled in and actively participating in a licensed drug treatment program shall be issued directly to the drug treatment provider to offset the cost of treatment.  Upon completion of the drug treatment program, the cash benefits shall be then issued to the person.  In the case of a delay in issuing cash benefits to a person receiving Work First New Jersey general public assistance benefits who has completed the drug treatment program, the drug treatment provider shall transmit to the person those funds received on behalf of that person after completion of the drug treatment program;] (Deleted by amendment, (P.L.    , c.    ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill  

     (8)   a person found to have fraudulently misrepresented his residence in order to obtain means-tested, public benefits in two or more states or jurisdictions, who shall be ineligible for benefits for a period of 10 years from the date of conviction in a federal or state court; or

     (9)   a person who intentionally makes a false or misleading statement or misrepresents, conceals or withholds facts for the purpose of receiving benefits, who shall be ineligible for benefits for a period of six months for the first violation, 12 months for the second violation, and permanently for the third violation.

     c.     A person who makes a false statement with the intent to qualify for benefits and by reason thereof receives benefits for which the person is not eligible is guilty of a crime of the fourth degree.

     d.    Pursuant to the authorization provided to the states under 21 U.S.C. s.862a(d)(1), this State elects to exempt from the application of 21 U.S.C. s.862a(a):

     (1)   needy persons and their dependent children domiciled in New Jersey for the purposes of receiving benefits under the Work First New Jersey program and food assistance under the federal "Food and Nutrition Act of 2008," Pub.L.110-234 (7 U.S.C. s.2011 et seq.); and

     (2)   single persons and married couples without dependent children domiciled in New Jersey for the purposes of receiving food assistance under Pub.L.110-234.

(cf: P.L.2016, c.69, s.1)

 

     10.  This act shall take effect immediately. 

 

 

STATEMENT

    

     This bill expands the scope of reentry services and benefits currently available to inmates released from incarceration in State and county correctional facilities.

     The State's Fair Release and Reentry Act of 2009, recently amended by P.L.2020, c.45, requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to ensure inmates are provided within 10 days of their release from incarceration various documents, information, and other items to assist them in their reentry efforts, including non-driver identification cards and a two-week supply of prescription medicine.  This bill extends the provisions of the act to also require inmates being released from county correctional facilities to be provided with these same documents, information, and items. 

     P.L.2020, c.45 amended the act to require that an inmate's DOC identification card be accepted by all State, county, and municipal agencies and New Jersey nonprofit organizations for inmates to access reentry services during a public health or state of emergency.  The bill continues to require this during the time of emergency, but also requires that agencies and organizations accept these cards for six months after the inmate is released, as well as extend the provision to apply to county correctional facility identification cards during emergencies and six months after release. 

     P.L.2020, c.45 also required the DOC to supply, in addition to two weeks of prescription medication, an additional 30 day prescription order and two additional refills to inmates released during the 2020  public health emergency or state of emergency.  This bill makes the requirement permanent and extends it to county correctional facilities. 

     The bill further amends the act to require the DOC to issue to inmates being released a benefits card approved for the purpose of obtaining benefits under the Medicaid, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Work First New Jersey programs and extends this requirement to county correctional facilities.  

     Another provision of P.L.2020, c.45 requires the DOC to ensure that an inmate is assisted in completing and forwarding for processing online applications for enrollment in Medicaid, SNAP, and Work First New Jersey 30 days before release.  The Department of Human Services is required to accept and process these applications.  The bill requires the commissioner to ensure that any required signatures or authorizations are to be obtained from the inmate when completing the applications.  The bill also requires the address of the appropriate regional non-profit inmate reentry organization to be used for any inmate who is unable to identify a residence at the time of application for benefits, and requires  all State, county, and municipal agencies to accept the address for the purposes of establishing proof of residence to meet any applicable eligibility requirements.  This bill extends these requirements to the county correctional facilities. 

     Under the bill, an inmate who appears to be eligible for benefits under the Work First New Jersey program based on the inmate's certification of income, resources, and family composition, and based on other information immediately available at the time of application, is to be deemed presumptively eligible for Work First New Jersey assistance and immediate need assistance and is to receive this assistance for a period of not less than 45 days following the inmate's release from incarceration. 

     P.L.2020, c.45 further requires the DOC to provide to the appropriate county welfare agency or board of social services, in advance of an inmate's release, the inmate's name, release date, and contact information, including a telephone number or an email address.  This bill requires this information to also be provided to the applicable regional nonprofit prisoner reentry program.  

     In addition, this bill authorizes inmates released from State and county correctional facilities to use the address of a nonprofit prisoner reentry program as a mailing address in an application for benefits under Medicaid, SNAP, and Work First New Jersey. 

     Finally, the bill eliminates the provisions under current law which prohibit persons convicted of an offense involving the use, possession, or distribution of a controlled dangerous substance from receiving Work First New Jersey benefits. 

     According to the sponsor, this bill is necessary to assist not only those inmates currently being released from correctional facilities to obtain housing, food, and other services, but also any additional inmates who may be released pursuant to pending legislation revising criminal sentencing laws. 

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