, , , , ,

Representative John Burnett (D-40) posted via Twitter about private jail legislation in the General Assembly:

HB 44 Private jail. Sponsor says he took my amdt requiring pvt jails to notify sheriffs of escapes. Odd. He voted and argued against it. 4:27 PM May 15th from web

HB 44 passes 108-44. Phony private jail reform. Exactly what private jails wanted. 4:54 PM May 15th from web

I found the first post particularly interesting, so I inquired via Twitter:

@johnburnettkc HB [SB?] 44. Private jails. Who is the sponsor you refer to who voted against your escape notification amendment? 10:29 AM May 19th from web in reply to johnburnettkc

I received the following reply:

@MBersin Denny Hoskins R-Warrensburg 22 minutes ago from Tweetie in reply to MBersin

The latest summary for SB 44:

CCS#2/HCS/SCS/SB 44 – This act creates new requirements for private jails. Private jails are facilities not owned or operated by the state, a county, or a municipality that confine or detain prisoners who are awaiting trial, awaiting sentencing, or serving a sentence in jail. Such private jails shall be subject to all applicable state laws and local ordinances.

Any written report regarding a state criminal law violation that would result in a punishment of at least one year in prison shall contain the name and address of the private jail, the name of the prisoner or person who may have committed the violation, information regarding the violation, the name of the complainant, and other relevant information. The administrator shall, in a timely manner, refer all reports to law enforcement having jurisdiction. The administrator and employees shall cooperate in the investigation of the facts alleged in the report insofar as is consistent with the constitutional rights of all parties involved.

In the event that a prisoner is missing, the private jail shall take prompt and reasonable action to discover where the prisoner has escaped. Upon learning such an escape has occurred, the private jail shall promptly notify law enforcement and provide them with all available information known about the escape and the escapee.

Any person who makes a report, or who testifies in an administrative or judicial proceeding arising from the report, shall be immune from any civil or criminal liability for making such a report or for testifying, unless the person acted with malice.

Persons confined in private jails shall be separated and confined by gender. Persons confined under civil process or for civil causes shall be kept separate from people confined regarding criminal matters. The administrator shall arrange for necessary health care services and provide adequate clothing, food, and bedding, for those persons confined in the private jail. Deprivation of such items shall not be used as a disciplinary action against a confined person. No person confined in a private jail shall be used in any manner for the profit, betterment, or personal gain of any county or private jail employee. Any law enforcement investigation of a report regarding necessary health care or use of a confined person for profit or gain shall be concluded in a timely manner and a written report shall be provided to the private jail.

Nothing in the above provisions shall create a new civil cause of section.

The state or its political subdivisions shall not contract with any private jail to provide services, unless such jail provides written documentation of its ability to indemnify for liability arising from the operation of the jail.

Currently, a person is prohibited from bringing certain items, including controlled substances, alcohol, items prohibited by law or rule, and weapons, into a county jail. The punishment for such crime varies from a class A misdemeanor to a class C felony, depending on the item brought into the jail. Under this act, a person is prohibited from bring such items into a private jail as well. The administrator of a private jail may deny visitation privileges to or refer to the county prosecutor any person who knowingly brings, or tries to bring, items into the jail, which are prohibited by the jail’s rules and regulations. Violation of this provision shall be an infraction if it is not covered by other statutes.

Currently, a person commits the crime of damage to jail property if such person: 1) knowingly damages a city or county jail building or property, or 2) knowingly starts a fire in a city or county jail. Such crime is a class D felony. Under this act, damaging property at a private jail shall have the same criminal penalty.

This act requires private jailers to check for outstanding warrants through MULES before releasing an individual, in the same manner as county jailers. If an outstanding charge or warrant exists, the private jail administrator must tell the appropriate agency and transfer the individual accordingly. If a private jail administrator purposefully fails to perform a warrant check with the intent to release the person, he or she is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. An administrator shall not be liable for failing to perform a warrant check if the MULES system is not accessible.

Currently, escaping or attempting to escape from a county or city jail is a class D felony, unless certain aggravating circumstances apply, in which case, the penalty is increased. Under this act, escaping from a private jail shall have the same criminal penalty.

Currently, if a person is serving a sentence in a county jail on conviction of a felony and he or she fails to return to confinement as required under a work-release program, while serving a sentence with a term that is not continuous, or under another type of sentence where he or she is temporarily permitted to go at without a guard, he or she is guilty of a class A misdemeanor. Under this act, failing to return to confinement to a private jail shall have the same criminal penalty.

Currently, a public servant with charge of a prisoner, who knowingly permits him or her to escape is guilty of a class D felony, unless the public servant allows the prisoner to have a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument, in which case, the crime is a class B felony. Under this act, knowingly permitting escape from a private jail shall have the same criminal penalty.

The full text of SB 44, as Truly Agreed To and Finally Passed [pdf].

The Warrensburg Daily Star Journal covered the passage of SB 44 on May 19, 2009, discussing the “escape clause” in some detail:

…Pearce’s Senate Bill 44 followed a September escape from a private jail, Integrity Correctional Center, Centerview.

One escapee, a kidnapper, remained on the run for eight days. The other, a registered sex offender, remained free for more than a month before being recaptured.

Shortly after the inmates’ escape, Sheriff Chuck Heiss said he did not receive notification quickly from the private jail staff.

The jail’s director, Dave Burris, said Heiss received notice after the jail made sure an escape occurred.

Heiss, an outspoken critic of private jails, said Monday he appreciates the immediate notification requirement.

“I don’t want to be 12, 14 hours into it before we get a notification and then show up and realize it’s too late,” he said…

Interesting. The republican Johnson County Sheriff and the repub
lican Senator from the District were for it. And the private jails were against it: “…Representatives for Missouri’s two private jails did not want any restrictions….” According to Representative John Burnett (D), Denny Hoskins (r – noun, verb, CPA) “voted and argued against it.” Well, Denny? We could ask you directly, but there’s that Twitter block thing.