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TDCJ News

Summaries of Selected Legislation Passed by the 86th Legislature, Regular Session

HB 601, Price - Relating to procedures and reporting requirements regarding criminal defendants who are or may be persons with a mental illness or an intellectual disability. Counties will be required to provide mental health records, mental health screening report or similar information regarding the mental health of the defendant to be provided within the PEN packet for individuals transferred to TDCJ custody.

HB 650, White - Relating to female inmates of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. The bill requires specific training for officers at facilities where females are confined; directs the TDCJ to study the effect of the visitation policy on the relationships between offenders and their children; provides guidance on the use of restraints of pregnant offenders; specifies allocation of female hygiene products; and requires TDCJ to perform a trauma history screening upon intake.

HB 812, White - Relating to the amount of the health care services fee paid by certain inmates. Offenders will be charged $13.55 per medical visit, not to exceed $100 annually.

HB 918, White - Relating to providing certain discharged or released inmates with documentation to assist in obtaining employment. When a work-capable offender is discharging or releasing, the TDCJ must provide the offender with: a copy of the inmate’s job training record and inmate’s work record; and for an inmate who has completed a prerelease program required by the BPP, a resume and documentation that an offender has completed a mock job interview. Additionally, TDCJ must determine whether the offender has a certified copy of a birth certificate and social security card. If the offender does not have a birth certificate or social security card, the TDCJ must apply to the appropriate entity a request for the applicable document.

HB 1342, Leach - Relating to the consequences of a criminal conviction on a person's eligibility for an occupational license. The bill attempts to permit broader employment opportunities for people who have discharged their criminal sentences by limiting the circumstances by which that person may be disqualified for an occupational license or have one denied, revoked, or suspended by the licensing authority.

HB 1399, Smith - Relating to the creation and storage of DNA records for a person arrested for certain felony offenses. The Krystal Jean Baker Act requires an offender who is arrested for any felony offense or convicted of certain offenses to provide a DNA sample to the court or arresting agency. This process will take the onus off of TDCJ as being the main collector of offenders’ DNA samples.

HB 2623, White - Relating to the requirements for a change of name for a person with a final felony conviction or a person required to register as a sex offender. This bill authorizes a court to change the name of a person who has a final felony conviction or who is subject to sex offender registration requirements if the person is requesting to change their name to the primary name used in their criminal history record information.

HB 2813, Price - Relating to the statewide behavioral health coordinating council. The bill establishes a Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council (SBHCC) made of 20 named governmental entities, including the TDCJ, to develop and monitor a five-year behavioral health strategic plan, develop a biennial expenditure proposal, and oversee the administration of state and federal funding for behavioral and mental health services in Texas. TDCJ has previously participated on the SBHCC; this bill codifies the TDCJ’s participation.

HB 3227, Howard - Relating to a female inmate's access to programs offered to inmates of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. This bill requires the TDCJ to develop and implement policies that increase and promote a female offender’s access to programs, including educational, vocational, substance abuse treatment, rehabilitation, life skills training, and prerelease programs. The bill also prohibits the TDCJ from reducing or limiting a male offender’s access to a program to meet these requirements.

HB 3834, Capriglione - Relating to the requirement that certain state and local government employees and state contractors complete a cybersecurity training program certified by the state cybersecurity coordinator. A state agency employee that use a computer for at least 25% of their duties would have to complete a certified training program.

HB 3980, Hunter - Relating to a requirement that the Statewide Behavioral Health Coordinating Council prepare a report regarding suicide rates in this state and state efforts to prevent suicides. In order to have a better understanding of the issue to determine the appropriate efforts necessary to decrease suicide rates, the Health and Human Service Commission, in conjunction with the Department of State Health Services, must submit a report on the prevalence of suicide in the state of Texas to the SBHCC. SBHCC will use the information to prepare a legislative report identifying opportunities and making recommendations for state agencies to improve statewide and regional data collection on suicide related events, use data to guide and inform decisions and policy development relating to suicide prevention, and decrease suicide in the state of Texas while targeting the highest categories of risk.

HB 4754, Lopez - Relating to a study on the number of active releasees on a parole officer's caseload. The TDCJ is to conduct a study on (1) the average number of active parolees on a PO’s caseload, (2) how that number factors into TDCJ’s legislative appropriations request and budget, and (3) whether TDCJ is accurately assessing that number to ensure that adequate funding is received to employ POs and that POs are not overburdened based on that number.

HCR 47, Bailes - Paying tribute to the history of the Texas Prison Rodeo.

SB 401, Hancock - Relating to legislative oversight of deferred maintenance projects. This bill creates the Joint Oversight Committee on Government Facilities to review deferred maintenance plans and receive implementation updates.

SB 405, Birdwell - Relating to the criminal offense of making a false report to a peace officer, federal special investigator, law enforcement employee, corrections officer, or jailer. This bill makes it a Class B misdemeanor offense to make a false statement that is material to a criminal investigation to a corrections officer or jailer.

SB 562, Zaffirini - Relating to the delivery of certain mental health information regarding a defendant transferred from a county to the custody of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Identical to HB 601, counties will be required to provide mental health records, mental health screening report or similar information regarding the mental health of the defendant to be provided within the PEN packet for individuals transferred to TDCJ custody.

SB 619, Birdwell - Relating to the sunset review process and certain governmental entities subject to that process. The TDCJ and TBCJ sunset review date has been pushed from 2021 to 2025.

SB 1570, Flores - Relating to the effect of certain felony convictions of certain corrections employees. This bill prohibits correctional officers who are convicted of a “qualifying felony” for conduct arising directly from their job from receiving a service retirement annuity.

SB 1978, Hughes - Relating to the protection of religious beliefs and moral convictions, including beliefs and convictions regarding marriage. The bill prohibits a governmental entity from taking any adverse action against any person based wholly or partly on the person's membership in, affiliation with, or contribution, donation, or other support provided to a qualifying religious organization and to provide for relief if that prohibition is violated.