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Oversight In The News

The Latest in Oversight Legislation

Learn about recent efforts to establish corrections oversight.

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.

PENDING LEGISLATION

Virginia House Bill No. 555: A Bill to amend the Code of Virginia relating to Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsman

This legislation seeks to establish powers and duties within the Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsman. Provisions include technical assistance, a statewide uniform reporting system, and more frequent inspections of facilities. The bill outlines the structure of the Corrections Oversight Committee to consist of 13 voting members and two nonvoting members.

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 would authorize $250,000 for the creation of the Office of the Department of Corrections Ombudsman and would give the Office the authority to inspect prisons and make recommendations for improvements to prison conditions. If Gov. Youngkin signs the bill into law with the oversight language, the bill would give 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 would also require 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 would create an independent Corrections Oversight Committee to provide guidance to the corrections ombudsman. The committee would be 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.

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