Weekly Feature

2017-08-10 / Local News

New laws to address medical care, housing of inmates

Sen. Patrick Gallivan Sen. Patrick Gallivan Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed two bills related to health care services for county jail inmates and the housing of out-of-state inmates, both sponsored by state Sen. Patrick Gallivan and passed by the Senate and Assembly in June.

According to a press release from the senator’s office, the first bill allows county jails to contract with medical professional corporations to provide inmate health care services. It amends the existing correction law, which dates back to 1929 and gives counties flexibility when it comes to medical care for inmates of a county jail.

“Currently, counties must appoint a reputable physician to provide health care services to inmates, but many rural counties have found it difficult to identify and recruit a single person to serve as a jail doctor,” Gallivan said. “By updating this law, we reduce the burden on counties and allow them to contract with authorized medical partnerships and corporations.”

The release said the new law recognizes that the health care delivery system has evolved and allows individual counties to contract with a professional partnership, a professional service corporation, a professional service limited liability company or a registered limited liability company to provide health services to county inmates.

The second bill extends a current law, which is set to expire Sept. 1, and allows local correctional facilities to board inmates from neighboring states. According to the release, the new law will extend until Sept. 1, 2020.

Many county jail facilities are partially vacant because of an overall decrease in inmate population, Gallivan said. In an effort to offset the cost of operating these facilities, some counties house state or federal inmates or inmates from other counties. This new law gives counties the added option of entering into contracts to house certain inmates from other states’ local correctional facilities.

“As the former Sheriff of Erie County, I understand the enormous cost of operating a jail,” Gallivan said in the release. “Local counties should have the opportunity to bring inmates from other states to fill their vacant cells and generate additional revenue to help maintain their facilities.”

The new law could benefit every county in New York that has the capacity to accept out-of-state inmates and allow them to offset a portion of their overhead costs for operating their jail facilities, the release said.

“I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing these important bills into law,” Gallivan said.

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