SB 618, HCA 1, 2 -- CORRECTIONS

SPONSOR: Rohrbach

COMMITTEE ACTION: Voted "do pass" by the Committee on Correctional and State Institutions by a vote of 14 to 1.

This bill creates the women's offender program within the Department of Corrections. Women offenders under the program will be provided a continuum of supervision strategies and program services for female probationers, prisoners, and parolees. The bill establishes an Advisory Committee of Women's Programs to address the needs of women in the criminal justice system.

The bill also requires that contracts for telephone service in correctional facilities go to the lowest and best bidder based on costs of calls to called parties. The contract may require the contractor to pay the state an amount not to exceed the state's cost for any wiring or equipment necessary to provide the service and the salaries of personnel necessary to monitor inmate telephone calls.

HCA 1 -- Allows the Joint Committee on Corrections to assign a designee to inspect correctional facilities biennially on the committee's behalf. The amendment also removes any oversight authority of the joint committee regarding the Division of Youth Services. The amendment requires the sheriff or other officer charged with the delivery of offenders to the Department of Corrections to provide, upon delivery, any information regarding the offender's physical and mental condition, including currently prescribed medication and any attempts at suicide. Copies of all medical and mental health records in the possession of jail personnel must also be delivered.

The amendment prohibits any person serving a sentence for a dangerous felony or identified as a predatory sexual offender from participating in the house arrest program.

HCA 2 -- Requires the State Board of Probation and Parole to provide probation services for offenders convicted of criminal nonsupport when charged as a class A misdemeanor. Currently, the board only provides probation services for criminal nonsupport offenders when charged with class D felonies.

FISCAL NOTE: Estimated Net Effect on General Revenue of an income of $236,434 to a cost of $6,463,566 in FY 2001, an income of $332,704 to a cost of $6,867,296 in FY 2002, and an income of $340,907 to a cost of $7,359,093 in FY 2003.

PROPONENTS: Supporters say that the women's offender program is necessary to address the specific problems faced by incarcerated women. Supporters also say that even though the collect calling program within the Department of Corrections is a major source of revenue for the state, it places a financial burden on the families of inmates. Phone service allows inmates to maintain relationships with family and friends, but many of these people can't afford to pay for these phone calls.

Testifying for the bill were Senator Rohrbach; Department of Corrections; Missouri Catholic Conference; and Missouri Association for Social Welfare.

OPPONENTS: There was no opposition voiced to the committee.

Bob Dominique, Legislative Analyst