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Mayor de Blasio Signs Legislation to Increase Transparency and Reporting of Programing and Services Available to Inmates

October 18, 2016

Also signs package of legislation that builds upon the City's goal of cutting emissions by 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today held public hearings for, and signed, seven pieces of legislation into law – Intros. 899-A, 1014-A, 1064-A, 1144-A, 1183-A, measures aimed at increasing reporting and transparency in programing and services for inmates; and Intros. 1277-A and 642-A, designed to align the City of New York's energy code with recent amendments to the 2016 New York state energy code and increasing the ratio of biodiesel in heating oil.

"It is our job to ensure that the jails in this City treat those who have been placed in them as fairly as possible," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "By reporting on what changes we are implementing, what proposals are actually working and what we can still do better, we are taking a big step today towards building critical and meaningful jail reform for the City of New York."

"I would like to thank City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito for her leadership and Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, the sponsor of bill 1064-A, for her support of these initiatives. I would also like to thank Council Member Gibson, sponsor of 899-A; Council Member Johnson, sponsor of 1014-A; Council Member Cumbo, sponsor of 1144-A; and Council Member Cohen, sponsor of 1183-A," said Mayor de Blasio.

"Updating the New York City Energy Conservation Code, mandating graduated transitions to cleaner heating oil, and shoring up procedures at our Department of Correction facilities all share one key element – they are measures that will expand upon our shared goal of making New York City a more sustainable and forward-thinking place to live," said City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito. "Our infrastructure is aging, and it is imperative to put standards in place that will see updates being carried out with careful consideration of environmental impacts. Just as important is paying attention to the impacts being wrought on those who enter our incarceration centers. The Council is proud to be leading the way on this legislation, and I thank Mayor de Blasio and my fellow Council Members for their partnership on these essential initiatives."

The first bill, Intro. 899-A, will increase the transparency to procedures and reporting for the Rikers Island nursery program. This bill defines many aspects of the nursery program at Rikers, such as the terms child, nursery, staff, and use of force. Additionally, this bill requires that the child and mother will be housed in the nursery unless the warden of the facility denies the child admission to the nursery. Finally, the law stipulates that the Department of Correction must release an annual report on their website including the total number of children admitted to the nursery, the daily population of children in the nursery, the total number of applicants to the nursery, the rate of incidents involving use of force, and the number of both accepted and denied applicants to the nursery; if they were denied, where they were placed.

"The Riker's Island Nursery bill will require that female inmates are notified about the program and that they are given a written explanation should they be rejected. It's time to inform women about their rights and stop punishing children for the failures of a system that has given very few opportunities for women in this situation. With the passing of this legislation, more women can care for their children, less children will become wards of the state, and the female inmates who give birth while in prison will be far less likely to return after being released," said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.

The second bill, Intro. 1014-A, requires the Department of Correction to post on its website an annual report regarding mentally ill inmates. This law defines an eligible inmate as an inmate whose period of confinement is 24 hours or longer and receives no less than two visits from mental health staff. Additionally, this law also clearly states that the DOC must post an annual report, permanently accessible through the DOC website, regarding mentally ill inmates and recidivism, with information on the number of inmates released by the department into the community, the number of eligible inmates released into the community, the number of MH eligible inmates released into the community who were eligible during the report period and how many of these inmates returned into custody within one year of being released.

The third bill, Intro. 1064-A, requires the Department of Correction to evaluate programs it utilizes. Specifically, this bill requires the evaluation of inmate programing and structured services offered to inmates, submitting an annual summary of each evaluation. This summary will include: the amount of funding received, estimated number of inmates served, a brief description of the program being offered and include a comparison between the current year and prior five years.

The fourth bill, Intro. 1144-A, requires the use of trauma-informed care in city correctional facilities. This bill defines the terms trauma-informed, staff and the words training, reporting and usage. This bill requires the department to monitor the use of trauma-informed care and provide trainings to all appropriate staff. Additionally, the guidelines for use of trauma-informed must be consistent with standards developed by the substance abuse and mental health services administration of the United States Department of Health and Human Services. An annual report of the number of employees trained, a description of the guidelines and any programs utilizing trauma-informed care, beginning in 2018 and every year afterward.

"Studies have shown that trauma-informed care leads to less disciplinary actions, prison violence, and suicide attempts. With the recent passing of Venida Browder, mother of Kalief Browder, who committed suicide at 22-years old after being wrongfully imprisoned, abused, and held in solitary confinement, we are reminded of the many flaws within our justice system and the affects they have on inmates and their families. I am pleased with the passing of this legislation and taking a step toward a more humane and rehabilitative correctional approach," said Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo.

The fifth bill, Intro. 1183-A, requires arrestee health screenings and the exchange of health information of inmates in the custody of the Department of Correction. This bill defines arrestee under custodial arrest by the Police Department, while also requiring a medical treatment report when an arrestee is treated by a health care provider while in custody; this report must include a brief description of the arrestee's medical condition and the arrestee's name and other identifying information. Additionally, this bill adds a new chapter which includes definitions of arrestee, health care provider, health evaluation and inmate. This bill also stipulates that DOHMH, or its designee, is to oversee a medical or mental health screening, to then be provided to New York City Health + Hospitals along with any other relevant medical records.

"With these laws, the City Council recognizes the hard work of our dedicated officers, such as expanded training in trauma-informed care, and their improved delivery of care and services to our many populations, including pregnant women. We thank the Council for its support of our staff and for its efforts to involve the citizens of our great city in our reform agenda establishing a culture of safety for staff and inmates," said Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte.

"These bills reinforce the shared commitment of our City's leaders to bring equity and improve quality of care to the thousands of men and women who move through the jail system every year," said President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals Dr. Ram Raju. "We applaud these efforts to increase transparency and promote the health of this vulnerable population."

"By bringing a greater level of transparency to DOC programs, we can better evaluate the effectiveness of these programs and how our city dollars are being spent. I thank Mayor de Blasio for signing this bill into law, and Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and my Council colleagues for their leadership and dedication to criminal justice reform," said Council Member Elizabeth Crowley, Chair of the Committee on Fire and Criminal Justice Services.

"The goal of Intro. 1183 is to ensure that all individuals entering the criminal justice system are treated in a humane manner and that there is a continuity of care between all entities responsible for their wellbeing. The legislation ensures that every arrestee held at the central booking area of a local criminal court prior to their arraignment at such court will be screened for any medical or mental health conditions. This screening record, in addition to any hospital records or other health care evaluations done while in the custody of the Police Department pre-arraignment, shall be shared with the Department of Corrections. In doing so, we are closing treatment gaps in the system and creating a new contact point at which an issue can be identified and intervention can be provided, as early as possible," said Council Member Andrew Cohen.

The sixth bill, Intro. 1277-A, will conform the New York City Energy Conservation Code to recent amendments in the 2016 New York State energy code. This bill makes various technical corrections as well as updates to align with new changes adopted by New York State to its energy code. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Jumaane Williams.

"Cleaning our energy sources is vital to improving our air quality and meeting our climate targets," said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director of Climate Policy and Programs and Chief Resilience Officer for the NYC Mayor's Office. "Today's local law updates ensure that our buildings continue using ever cleaner fuels and are more energy efficient to help meet our ambitious OneNYC goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent by 2050."

"By updating the Air Pollution Control Code and phasing out the use of the dirtiest heating oils, New York City's air quality has dramatically improved in recent years," said DEP Acting Commissioner Vincent Sapienza. "We thank Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Constantinides, Chair of the Committee on Environmental Protection, for their leadership in ensuring the passage of this important legislation that will allow all New Yorkers to breathe a little easier."

"In partnership with other City offices, DCAS has pioneered the wide-spread use of biodiesel in New York City government operations," said DCAS Commissioner Lisette Camilo. "Every City owned building and truck today is already powered by biodiesel, and we have steadily and successfully been able to increase the percent of biodiesel we use. We look forward to helping all New Yorkers make this important sustainable transition. "

"This technical change bill, when coupled with Intro. 1169-A, will exceed the energy efficiency standards set in the state's recently adopted code. For example, going forward, many buildings will need solar ready roofs, sensors to automatically turn off lights in commercial buildings, increased air leakage testing and improved insulation for certain air conditioners. These steps we've taken to maximize energy efficiency shows again the City's dedication to do its part in environmental preservation," said Council Member Jumaane D. Williams, Chair of the Committee on Housing and Buildings.

The seventh bill, Intro. 642-A, sets new deadlines and milestones for the percentage of required biodiesel in heating oil by volume. Additionally, the bill requires that a survey will be published by 2020 examining compatibility matters; a separate report will be presented to the Mayor and Council Speaker in 2023, which would re-assess the availability of biodiesel supply to meet future demand. In his remarks, the Mayor thanked the bill's sponsor, Council Member Costa Constantinides.

Council Member Costa Constantinides said, "Intro. 642-A will reduce pollution, upgrade air quality and improve our public health. Slowly increasing the biodiesel blend in our home heating oil will have the environmental equivalent to taking 175,000 cars off the road. This is a tested solution that will bring us closer toward our goal of reducing carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 and help us combat the effects of climate change. I thank Mayor de Blasio and my Council colleagues for their support in making our city greener."

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