senate Bill S7631

2013-2014 Legislative Session

Relates to personal phone calls for inmates in certain circumstances

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Archive: Last Bill Status - In Committee


  • Introduced
  • In Committee
  • On Floor Calendar
    • Passed Senate
    • Passed Assembly
  • Delivered to Governor
  • Signed/Vetoed by Governor

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Assembly Actions - Lowercase
Senate Actions - UPPERCASE
May 21, 2014 referred to crime victims, crime and correction

Co-Sponsors

S7631 - Bill Details

Current Committee:
Law Section:
Correction Law
Laws Affected:
Amd ยง137, Cor L

S7631 - Bill Texts

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Relates to personal phone calls for inmates in certain circumstances.

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BILL NUMBER:S7631

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the correction law, in relation to
personal phone calls for inmates in certain circumstances

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: To allow state prison inmates
entering solitary confinement in special housing units (SHU) to make a
telephone call upon admission into SHU and at least once per month
thereafter.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: Section one of the bill amends
subdivision six of section 137 of the correction law to allow an
inmate to make a telephone call upon his or her admission into
solitary confinement including special housing unit, keeplock and
administrative segregation and at least once per month thereafter.

Section two is the effective date.

JUSTIFICATION: There are approximately 4,000 inmates confined to a
special housing unit (SHU) within the state prison system as a result
of disciplinary sanctions. Inmates being held in SHU on such sanctions
are confined to a SHU cell for 23 hours per day, with an hour of
outdoor recreation in a fenced-in pen or cage, and also lose other
privileges including access to telephone calls, personal property,
packages and commissary. SHU inmates are limited to one visit per week
or may be prohibited from receiving any visits. For a sanction which
exceeds six months, such inmates are transferred to a dedicated SHU
facility in either Chemung or Franklin counties. Since these
facilities are far from the urban and suburban communities where most
inmates' families reside, transfers often result in few, or no, visits
during an inmate's confinement to SHU. Such visits have become even
less frequent since the elimination of the free bus program from the
state budget.

Solitary confinement has been found to be a form of torture by the UN
Special Rapporteur for Torture. There is a national movement to end
the excessive use of this form of disciplinary confinement in prisons.
The impact of solitary confinement on the family of an inmate so
confined is a significant burden in its own right. A parent, spouse or
child of the inmate often has no idea of what has happened to his or
her loved one when telephone calls suddenly cease. While an inmate
has a constitutional right to correspondence, there are times when
postage, paper and writing implements are not present, and
correspondence to and from the correctional facility may be delayed or
unreliable. Permitting inmates to make telephone calls upon admission
into SHU and at monthly intervals thereafter ensures that a mother,
father, spouse or child is not left wondering what has happened to his
or her loved one.

Confinement to special housing unit can last months, and sometimes
years, with numerous deprivations. It is well documented that
maintaining family relations improves inmate behavior and safety
within a facility and increases an inmate's likelihood of success upon
release. In order to ensure that punishment is not excessive and
counterproductive, this bill requires DOCCS to provide an inmate with
access to at least one phone call upon his or her admission into SHU,
and at monthly intervals thereafter.


PRIOR LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New bill.

FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.

EFFECTIVE DATE: Immediately

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                    S T A T E   O F   N E W   Y O R K
________________________________________________________________________

                                  7631

                            I N  S E N A T E

                              May 21, 2014
                               ___________

Introduced  by  Sen.  MONTGOMERY  -- read twice and ordered printed, and
  when printed to be committed to the Committee on Crime Victims,  Crime
  and Correction

AN  ACT to amend the correction law, in relation to personal phone calls
  for inmates in certain circumstances

  THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK, REPRESENTED IN SENATE AND  ASSEM-
BLY, DO ENACT AS FOLLOWS:

  Section  1.  Subdivision  6  of  section  137 of the correction law is
amended by adding a new paragraph (g) to read as follows:
  (G) WITHIN TWENTY-FOUR HOURS  OF  DISCIPLINARY  CONFINEMENT,  KEEPLOCK
PENDING A DISCIPLINARY HEARING, OR PLACEMENT IN A SEGREGATED CONFINEMENT
UNIT  FOR  ADMINISTRATIVE  PURPOSES, AND AT MONTHLY INTERVALS THEREAFTER
FOR THE DURATION OF SUCH CONFINEMENT, AN INMATE SHALL  BE  PERMITTED  TO
MAKE AT LEAST ONE PERSONAL PHONE CALL, EXCEPT WHEN TO DO SO WOULD CREATE
AN UNACCEPTABLE RISK TO THE SAFETY AND SECURITY OF INMATES OR STAFF.
  S 2. This act shall take effect immediately.







 EXPLANATION--Matter in ITALICS (underscored) is new; matter in brackets
                      [ ] is old law to be omitted.
                                                           LBD15258-01-4

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