Summary: H.R.667 — 104th Congress (1995-1996)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Passed House amended (02/10/1995)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Truth in Sentencing

Title II: Stopping Abusive Prisoner Lawsuits

Title III: Stop Turning Out Prisoners

Title IV: Enhancing Protection Against Incarcerated

Criminals

Title V: Prison Conditions

Title VI: Community Service Projects

Title VII: Prison Commissary Administration

Violent Criminal Incarceration Act of 1995 - Title I: Truth in Sentencing - Revises the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994 (VCCLEA) to authorize the Attorney General to provide grants to eligible States (and to eligible States organized as a regional compact) to build, expand, and operate: (1) space in correctional facilities in order to increase prison bed capacity for persons convicted of a serious violent felony; and (2) temporary to permanent correctional facilities, including facilities on military bases and boot camp facilities, for the confinement of convicted nonviolent offenders and criminal aliens for the purpose of freeing suitable existing prison space for the confinement of persons convicted of a serious violent felony. Permits such grants to be used to build, expand, and operate secure youth correctional facilities. Limits eligible States to receiving either a general grant or a truth-in-sentencing incentive grant.

Requires a State, to be eligible to receive general grant funds, to submit to the Attorney General an application that provides assurances (general grant requirements) that since 1993 such State has increased: (1) the percentage of convicted violent offenders sentenced to prison; (2) the average prison time actually to be served in prison by such offenders; and (3) the percentage of sentence to be actually served in prison by violent offenders.

Requires a State, to be eligible to receive truth-in-sentencing incentive grants, to submit to the Attorney General an application that provides assurances that the State has enacted laws and regulations which include: (1) truth-in-sentencing laws which either currently require or within three years will require that persons convicted of a serious violent felony serve not less than 85 percent of the sentence imposed or 85 percent of the court-ordered maximum sentence for States that practice indeterminate sentencing; (2) laws requiring that the sentencing or releasing authorities notify and allow the victims of the defendant or the family of such victims the opportunity to be heard regarding the issue of sentencing and any postconviction release; and (3) laws requiring that the releasing authority notify the victims of serious violent felons or the family of such victims and the convicting court regarding the release of a defendant.

Requires a State, to be eligible to receive general grants or truth-in-sentencing grants under this Act, to provide an assurance to the Attorney General that: (1) inmate labor will be used to build and expand correctional facilities; (2) each State will involve counties and other local governments in the construction, development, expansion, modification, operation, or improvement of correctional facilities designed to ensure the incarceration of offenders and will share funds received under this title with any county or other local government that is housing State prisoners, taking into account the burden placed on such local government in confining prisoners due to overcrowding in State prison facilities in furtherance of the purposes of VCCLEA; (3) the State has implemented or will implement (within 18 months) policies to determine the veteran status of inmates and to ensure that incarcerated veterans receive the veterans benefits to which they are entitled; and (4) the State has adopted procedures for the collection of reliable statistical data which compiles the rate of serious violent felonies after the receipt of grant funds as general grants or truth-in-sentencing grants in comparison to the rate of serious violent felonies before receipt of such funds and will report such statistical data to the Attorney General if such data is not already provided.

Specifies that beginning in FY 1998, 15 percent of the funds that would otherwise be available to a State as general grants or truth-in-sentencing grants shall be withheld from any State which does not have an eligible system of consequential sanctions for juvenile offenders.

Makes a State eligible for grants under this Act notwithstanding the general grant requirements if the State practices indeterminant sentencing and the average times served in such State for murder, rape, robbery, and assault exceed, by ten percent or greater, the national average of times served for such offenses. Allows a State to use up to 15 percent of the funds provided under this title for jail construction if the Attorney General determines that the State has enacted legislation that provides for pretrial release requirements at least as restrictive as those found in the Federal criminal code (regarding release or detention of a defendant pending trial) or legislation that requires an individual charged with an offense for which a sentence of more than one year may be imposed or involving violence against another person may not be released before trial without a financial guarantee to ensure appearance before trial.

Specifies that such requirements shall apply except that a State may provide that the Governor of the State may allow for earlier release of a geriatric prisoner or a prisoner whose medical condition precludes the prisoner from posing a threat to the public after a public hearing in which representatives of the public and the prisoner's victims have an opportunity to be heard regarding a proposed release.

Specifies that if a State or local government located in a State which otherwise meets the requirements of this title regarding general grants or truth-in-sentencing grants certifies to the Attorney General that exigent circumstances exist which require that the State expend funds to confine juvenile offenders, the State may use funds received under this title to build, expand, and operate juvenile correctional facilities or pretrial detention facilities for such offenders.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) the formula for determining the amount of funds that each State may receive; (2) accounting, audit, and reporting requirements (including a requirement that States receiving funds under this title require that the appropriate public authorities report to the Attorney General the death of each individual while in a municipal or county jail, State prison, or other similar place of confinement and that the Attorney General annually publish a report on such deaths); and (3) limitations on funds. Authorizes appropriations.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) the transfer and use of unallocated funds; and (2) payments to the States for the incarceration of criminal aliens.

Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to direct the Attorney General to give preference in making specified payments to States and political subdivisions of States which are ineligible for payments to States for incarceration of criminal aliens.

Title II: Stopping Abusive Prisoner Lawsuits - Amends the Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act to prohibit any civil action for deprivation of rights from being brought by an adult convicted of a crime confined in any correctional facility until available plain, speedy, and effective administrative remedies are exhausted.

(Sec. 202) Requires the court to dismiss any such action if satisfied that the action fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted or is frivolous or malicious.

(Sec. 203) Repeals a provision requiring that the minimum standards provide for an advisory role for employees and inmates in the formulation, implementation, and operation of the system.

(Sec. 204) Amends the Federal judicial code to authorize the court to request an attorney to represent a person financially unable to employ counsel (current law) at any time. Requires (current law authorizes) the court to dismiss the case if the allegation of poverty is untrue, or if satisfied that the action is frivolous or malicious.

Requires: (1) a prisoner in a correctional institution who files an affidavit of indigence to include a statement of all assets such prisoner possesses; and (2) the court to make inquiry of the institution for information relating to the extent of the prisoner's assets and to require full or partial payment of filing fees according to the prisoner's ability to pay.

Title III: Stop Turning Out Prisoners - Revises provisions of the VCCLEA regarding judicial remedies with respect to prison conditions.

Specifies that prospective relief in a civil action with respect to prison conditions shall extend no further than necessary to remove the conditions that are causing the deprivation of the Federal rights of individual plaintiffs in that action. Prohibits the court from granting or approving any prospective relief unless it finds that the relief is narrowly drawn and the least intrusive means to remedy the violation of the Federal right. Directs the court, in determining the intrusiveness of the relief, to give substantial weight to any adverse impact on public safety or the operation of a criminal justice system caused by the relief.

Prohibits the court, in any such action, from granting or approving any relief the purpose or effect of which is to reduce or limit the prison population unless the plaintiff proves that crowding is the primary cause of the deprivation of the Federal right and no other relief will remedy that deprivation.

Sets forth provisions regarding: (1) termination of relief (including provision for the automatic termination of prospective relief after a two-year period); (2) procedure for motions affecting prospective relief; (3) standing (grants standing to specified Federal, State, or local officials to oppose the imposition or continuation in effect of relief the purpose or effect of which is to reduce or limit the prison population and to intervene in any proceeding relating to that relief); (4) special masters; and (5) attorney's fees.

Title IV: Enhancing Protection Against Incarcerated Criminals- Amends the Federal criminal code to require the Bureau of Prisons to ensure that: (1) prisoners under its jurisdiction do not engage in any physical activities designed to increase their fighting ability; and (2) all equipment designed for increasing the strength or fighting ability of prisoners promptly be removed from Federal correctional facilities and not be introduced into such facilities thereafter except as needed for a medically required program of physical rehabilitation approved by the Director of the Bureau.

Title V: Prison Conditions - Directs the Attorney General by rule to establish standards regarding conditions in the Federal prison system that provide prisoners the least amount of amenities and personal comforts consistent with constitutional requirements and good order and discipline in the Federal prison system.

(Sec. 502) Requires the Director to report annually to the Congress on the amount spent at each Federal correctional facility under the Bureau's jurisdiction for: (1) the minimal requirements necessary to maintain custody and security of prisoners; (2) basic nutritional needs; (3) essential medical services; and (4) amenities and programs beyond the scope of such items.

Title VI: Community Service Projects - Amends the Federal criminal code to authorize the Chief Executive Officer of a Federal penal or correctional facility, as part of an inmate work program, to provide services to private, nonprofit organizations or to a component of any State government or political subdivision thereof which shall: (1) be used only for the benefit of the recipient entity and not for the benefit of any individual or organization other than the recipient; and (2) not displace an employee of the recipient or result in a reduction in hours, wages, or employment benefits of any employee of the recipient.

Title VII: Prison Commissary Administration - Amends the Federal criminal code to authorize the Director to establish, operate, and maintain commissaries in Federal penal or correctional facilities from and through which articles and services may be procured, sold, rendered, or otherwise provided or made available for the benefit of inmates. Specifies that only those articles or services authorized by the Director may be procured from or through prison commissaries for the use of inmates.

Establishes in the Treasury a revolving fund to be called the Prison Commissary Fund. Authorizes the Director to accept gifts or bequests of money for credit to the Fund. Makes the Fund available for the payment of any expenses incurred by the Bureau in establishing, operating, and maintaining prison commissaries and the Prison Commissary Fund. Authorizes the Director to use monies from the Fund for the general welfare of inmates.