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Who’s responsible for dysfunctional jail oversight board?

Investigative Post
Bruce Rushton

House bill would shine a light on federal prisons’ dark problems

The Washington Post
Joe Davidson

The Latest in Oversight Legislation

Learn about recent efforts to establish corrections oversight.

Amending Legislation

An Act to amend the code of VA relating to the Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsman, created

This amendment to the Code of Virginia added Chapter 1 of Title 53.1, article 4, sections 53.1-17.2 through 53.1-17.10 was enacted to create the Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsman. This amendment to the Code of Virginia added Chapter 1 of Title 53.1, article 4, sections 53.1-17.2 through 53.1-17.10 was enacted to create the Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsman. The amendment created the Ombudsman Office within the Office of the State Inspector General and outlines its full powers and duties. The purpose of the Ombudsman Office is to monitor conditions of confinement, support inmate advocacy, collect and analyze data related to complaints received, issue public reports of findings, assist local governments in establishing oversight committees, and conduct inspections of facilities. Each facility must be inspected at least once every three years, and each maximum security facility or facility that has been found to need more frequent monitoring must be inspected annually. The Ombudsman Office has access to all facilities with or without prior notice. Inspections of each facility and the subsequent findings will be published publicly or made available in the Office’s annual report. The Ombudsman Office can initiate investigations as well as conduct investigations in response to filed complaints. The amendment also adds an oversight committee, comprised of 13 voting members and 2 nonvoting members. The committee shall conduct a minimum of one random inspection of a facility each year.

Bill

An act relating to transparency, public safety, and independent oversight of the city, county, and regional jail system in Washington state. (SB 6189 – 2023-24)

This bill concerns transparency, public safety, and independent oversight of the city, county, and regional jail system in Washington state. If passed, the bill would create a Jail Oversight Board within the Office of the Governor. The Board would be responsible for monitoring jails, investigating and receiving complaints,
and maintaining a statewide uniform jail reporting system, among other
duties. The goal is to increase transparency via independent oversight and support safe and humane conditions.

Bill

Strengthening the Michigan Corrections Ombudsman (SB 0493) (2023)

This bill would add family members, prisoner advocates, and corrections staff and contractors to the list of individuals who are able to submit complaints to the Ombudsman. Additionally, it would require the Ombudsman to publish monthly complaint data as well as an annual report describing the trends in the complaints the Office received. The bill would also require the Ombudsman to make the monthly data and the annual report accessible to the public.

Budget Bill

Establishing the Virginia Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsman and a Corrections Oversight Committee (2023)

In its 2023 legislative session, the Virginia legislature passed a budget bill that created the Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsman and gave the Office the authority to inspect prisons and make recommendations for improvements to prison conditions. The bill gave the ombudsman the same rights of access to prisons as those of the existing Office of the State Inspector General, which currently provides oversight for several other state agencies in addition to the Department of Corrections. The bill also required the Office to submit a strategic plan and an initial report on its activities to the governor and legislature by November 15, 2024. Additionally, the bill created an independent Corrections Oversight Committee to provide guidance to the corrections ombudsman. The committee was composed of state lawmakers of both parties, corrections staff, formerly incarcerated people, medical and mental health professionals, and others impacted by the state prison system. New VA Authorizing legislation (Ch. 1. Title 53. Article 4. Sections 53.1-17.2 through 53.1-17.10) has since replaced this budget bill as the new legal basis for correctional oversight.

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