WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT


A PROPOSED BILL

draft dated February 2, 2000

NEW YORK STATE WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAM (WDP)


WHAT. To provide further opportunities for productive work experience, and accompanying education and training, for prisoners of New York State; and to thereby improve the productivity and competitiveness of New York State. The investment in workforce development of prisoners is to be a partnership of the offender, the community and the state, all of whom can benefit.

A portion of the inmate earnings shall be deducted for family support, restitution or reparations to victims, costs of room and board, and other factors.

WHY The purpose of the WDP is sixfold:

1. To reduce crime by enabling ex-offender work at a livable wage.

2. To reduce current incarceration costs and future state costs resulting from repeat crime and repeat imprisonment.

3. To reduce the economic and cultural impact on neighborhoods from returning ex-offenders with no job skills.

4. To promote restoration of crime victims and communities through restitution, reparations, and community service.

5. To enable prisoners to provide financial support to their families and hence help to preserve families and community health.

6. To train inmates in the work-ethic and prepare them to be tax-paying contributors to society; to increase the productivity of the future workforce in New York State, and hence increase the State's competitiveness.

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `New York State Workforce Development Act of 2000'.

SECTION 2. GENERAL PROVISIONS RELATING TO THE STRUCTURE AND MISSION OF NEW YORK STATE PRISON INDUSTRIES.

Sec. 2.1 Industrial operations in New York State prisons

The NYS Attorney General shall determine in what manner and to what extent industrial operations shall be carried on in New York State correctional facilities. Such operations shall be conducted so as to

(1) provide productive work experience and job training which will enable ex-offenders to obtain future employment at a livable wage,

(2) to provide productive employment for the greatest number of those inmates in the State of New York correctional facilities who are eligible to work as is reasonably possible,

(3) generate sufficient revenues to fund the industrial operations,

(4) generate revenue, to be returned to the Treasury of the State of New York, to defray a portion of the cost of confining inmates in State of New York correctional facilities, and

(5) minimize any adverse impact on domestic companies or workers to the greatest extent possible consistent with its mission.

Sec. 2.2 New York State Prison Industries (NYSPI).

To coordinate and manage NYS workforce development, an entity known as the NYS Prison Industries is established.

(a) New York State Prison Industries is a corporation of New York State, and shall carry on such industrial operations in New York State correctional facilities as shall be determined by the NYS Attorney General in accordance with section 2.1. The corporation shall be governed by a board of 12 directors appointed by the NYS Attorney General. In making appointments to the Board, the NYS Attorney General shall appoint to the Board one person recommended by each of the NYS Speaker of the Assembly, the minority leader of the Assembly, the majority leader of the NYS Senate, and the minority leader of the NYS Senate. The members of the Board shall serve for 4 years and may be re-appointed. The members of the Board shall serve without compensation. The Commissioner of the NYS Department of Correctional Services shall serve as Chief Executive Officer of the Corporation.

(b) New York State Prison Industries shall endeavor to produce products consistent with the priorities established in section 2.1. Such products will include, but will not be limited to, products that otherwise would be produced by foreign workers outside the United States. Prisons Industries shall also endeavor, consistent with those priorities, to enter into contracts with private companies that employ foreign workers outside the United States to produce products, for the purpose of inducing such companies to employ inmates in a New York State Prison Industry Shop to produce such products.

(c) At each prison where New York State Prison Industries operates, an Inmate Workforce Advisory Council shall be established, composed of senior inmates engaged in prison workforce development. This Council shall be used by NYSPI management in finding ways for increased productivity and program effectiveness.

(d) The NYS Attorney General shall appoint an Independent Review Panel composed of one representative from each of the NYS Department of Commerce, the NYS Department of Labor, the business community, organized labor, an inmate advocacy organization, and such other persons as the NYS Attorney General deems appropriate.

The Review Panel shall periodically monitor the operation of the NYS Prison Industries for conformance with the above objectives and for effectiveness of management. The Review Panel shall periodically consult with management of the State Prison Industry Shops and with the Inmate Workforce Advisory Councils at each prison where New York State Prison Industries operates.

The Review Panel shall advise the Board regarding the type and quantity of products to be produced by New York State Prison Industries for sale in interstate commerce consistent with the purposes set forth in subsection (a).

The members of the Panel shall serve without compensation.

SECTION 3. CREATION OF FAIR COMPETITION AUTHORITY AND ELIMINATION OF MANDATORY SOURCE PREFERENCE.

Sec. 3.1. New York State Prison Industry inmate workforce

The Commissioner of the NYS Department of Correctional Services shall endeavor to make available to inmates who have been committed to the custody of the Department of Correctional Services opportunities to work in a New York State Prison Industry Shop. The Commissioner may set standards regarding education and conduct for those inmates who work in a New York State Prison Industry Shop.

Sec. 3.2. Sale of products; contracts for the provision of workforce; inmate wages

(a) New York State Prison Industries is authorized to sell its products generally on the open market to the public, to departments and agencies of the State of New York, to a State or municipality, and to foreign governments. Contributions of products to New York State charitable causes and community services that would not otherwise be funded are also authorized.

(b) For purposes of law and business operations in New York, there shall be no distinctions between any private firms and those under New York State Prison Industries in the production of goods and services for open markets. All firms, including those under New York State Prison Industries, which sell products in the open market, shall be subject to all laws, regulations, and taxes governing private firms in New York.

All facilities and services available for use in New York State Prison Industries shall be offered for use to the highest bidder meeting Board-established business and security requirements. Bidders may be private firms, non-profits, New York State public agencies, the New York State Department of Correctional Services, or any other legal entity.

(c) New York State Prison Industries is authorized, and shall make it a priority, to enter into contracts with one or more private companies through which such private company may produce products at a New York State Prison Industry Shop for sale. In addition to any other provision negotiated by the private company and New York State Prison Industries, any such contract shall provide--

(1) for the amount to be paid to New York State Prison Industries by the private company;

(2) that if the private company employs any non inmate workers, on or after a date that is 60 days prior to the execution of the contract, who reside within the State of New York, that the private company agrees to continue to employ non-inmate workers who reside within the State of New York in at least the same number for a period of at least 18 months after the date of the contract or the date the private company begins to produce products at a New York State Prison Industry Shop, whichever is later; and

(3) that the NYS Department of Correctional Services shall make available to such private company under reasonable terms and conditions such number of inmates who have been selected to work in a prison industry carried on by New York State Prison Industries as shall be specified in the contract.

(d) New York State Prison Industries shall pay wages to all inmates who work in a prison industry carried on by New York State Prison Industries (including those at which products are produced by a private company pursuant to a contract with New York State Prison Industries) at a rate not less than the New York State minimum wage from time to time in effect.

In every case where use of inmate labor to produce a planned product might significantly affect U.S. labor conditions, the product will not proceed unless: (1) inmates are paid at a rate not less than the rate paid for work of a similar nature in the locality in which the work takes place, (2) prior to the initiation of a local project, local unions are consulted, and (3) an assessment indicates that the employment of inmates (a) will not result in the displacement of significant numbers of employed workers outside the prison, (b) does not occur in occupations in which there is a sizable surplus of labor in the locality, and (c) does not impair existing contracts for service.

From the amounts paid to inmates at or above the minimum wage, pursuant to this section, the NYS Department of Correctional Services is authorized to deduct amounts, not exceeding in their aggregate 80 percent, for--

(1) payment of fines, special assessments, restitution or reparation of identified victims of crime, owed by the prisoner pursuant to court order, or more by agreement of the inmate;

(2) contributions to any fund established by law, with the agreement of the inmate, to compensate the victims of crime;

(3) allocations for support of the inmate's family pursuant to statute, court order, or more by agreement of the inmate;

(4) amounts to be held on account and paid to the inmate upon release from the custody of the Department of Correctional Services. Said amount shall be at least 10% of the amount paid to the inmate. Said account shall be separate from other inmate accounts and immune from any deduction except as authorized by the inmate;

(5) reimbursement due to the State, voluntarily incurred by the inmate, of Reimbursable Costs for post-secondary academic-or-vocational education received during incarceration; and

(6) reasonable charges for room and board, as determined by the NYS Attorney General, but less than 25 percent of the amountpaid to the inmate.

Within the above constraints, priority of deductions shall be given to items (1) (2) and (3) above.

(e) Inmate participation in New York State Prison Industries will be voluntary. Inmates engaged in work under the New York State Prison Industries shall be protected under the Fair Labor Standards Act of the United States regarding workplace issues, but without coverage on the right to strike.

(f) Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit more than one New York State Prison Industry Shop from being located at a New York State correctional facility. A New York State Prison Industry Shop may be located outside a correctional facility if all of the inmates working at that Shop are either classified as minimum security inmates or have been authorized for work release as regulated by the Deparment of Correctional Services.

(g) After consultation with the Independent Review Panel, the NYS Attorney General may waive the requirement of subsection (c)(2) if the NYS Attorney General determines that exigent circumstances exist and the private company has taken all reasonable steps to continue to employ its non-inmate workers who reside within the State of New York.

Sec.3.3. Elimination of mandatory source purchase requirement.

State agencies may purchase directly from New York State Prison Industries in such quantities and by such method as they deem appropriate.

Sec. 3.4. Definitions

In this chapter--
(1) the term `private company' means a corporation, partnership, joint venture, or sole proprietorship;
(2) the term `product' includes both goods and services;
(3) the term `New York State Prison Industry Shop' means a prison industry operation at which a product is made or provided;
(4) the term `foreign-made product' means a product that would otherwise be produced by foreign workers outside the United States.

SECTION 4. INCENTIVES.

(1) Prisoner’s incentives and rewards will be fashioned not only for ongoing work but also for quality of work and for the completion of an extended work experience.

(2) Management will be supported by professional training in management and marketing skills, and by financial incentives for increased productivity.

SECTION 5. INMATE TRAINING.

Every inmate participating in the New York State Prison Industries will be offered prior or concurrent rehabilitation and job training programs aimed at enabling him or her to earn a living wage after release. Work experience should not act to the detriment of either addiction treatment or general education. Satisfactory completion of required addiction treatment and GED education should be requirements to continued prison employment.

On the job training will include productive work, with opportunities for step-wise skill advancement, and promotion to positions of greater responsibility. Training in micro-enterprise development and management may be included.

Not less than 25 percent of the gross profits of the New York State Prison Industries Corporation at the end of each fiscal year shall be allocated to a fund for training inmates. That training will be aimed at developing a work ethic and productive cooperation, and equipping them to earn a livable wage upon release. That inmate training will be independent of the type of work to which the inmate is assigned. However, whenever feasible, work assignments will be made so as to give useful practice to such training in vocational skills.

SECTION 6. JOB PLACEMENT.

Inmates participating in NYSPI will be given job seeking instructions prior to release. Upon release, they will be given job placement assistance and emergency assistance. Ex-prisoners may participate in a year-long follow-up program, providing additional counseling and job placement assistance as needed.

SECTION 7. DEFINITIONS.-

As used above,
(1) the term `private company' means a corporation, partnership, joint venture, or sole proprietorship;
(2) the term `product' includes both goods and services;
(3) the term `New York State Prison Industry Shop' means a prison industry operation at which a product is made or provided;
(4) the term `foreign-made product' means a product that would otherwise be produced by foreign workers outside the United States.

The term `eligible inmate' means a person--
(1) who has been committed to the custody of the Department of Correctional Services, and has been designated to a low, medium, or high security facility operated by the Department of Correctional Services;
(2) who is physically and mentally able to work;
(3) who has demonstrated, by participation in appropriate programs, a genuine desire for rehabilitation; and
(4) who has voluntarily committed to a period of workforce development.

SECTION 8. INITIAL FUNDING.

Initial funding for the NYS Prison Industries is to be $3.5 million per year for three years. In subsequent years, the NYS Prison Industries is expected to be more than self-supporting. The entire program will be administered and coordinated by an annual grant of $250,000 to the New York State Department of Correctional Services (DOCS), including an evaluation component to determine the success of the model and recommend improvements, changes, or expansions in subsequent years.

An allocation of $3.5 million adds about $50 per year to the cost of incarcerating each of the 70,000 inmates in New York State custody. This start-up expense is about one-sixth of one percent additional cost, and is more than justified by the evidence of reduced recidivism among inmates who have gained a work ethic and some productive job skills.

SECTION 9. WHY NOW.

Steps must be taken to reduce the recidivism rate of ex-offenders, and the collateral costs to the state, to home-communities, and to family structures.

The annual budget for New York’s prisons has increased from about $450 million in fiscal year 1982-83 to over $1.7 billion today.

From 1981 through 1996, New York expanded its prisons at a cost of over $4 billion, not counting debt service which can triple that figure. Since then, the costs have continued to rise still further each year.

The costs of current policy have ripple effects throughout society. Besides the high incarceration costs, there are the court costs, the parole costs, the welfare costs, the child foster care costs, and the costs of the next generation of criminals raised in broken families.

New York’s prisons are dangerously overcrowded. Coupled with reduced funds for many rehabilitative programs, the potential for violence and human disasters in our prisons is ever present.

Currently, a high percentage of New York State prisoners still do not have a high school education or adequate job training when released from prison. They are often released without hope, angry, and ready to find any way to survive, no matter what the law says.

Productive work experiences in a prison have a wholesome effect on the entire prison population and its orderly operation. Prisoners see the possibility of upward mobility. Hope is generated. Pride in achievement is developed. Self respect is restored. As another result, the prison is more manageable and becomes a safer place for Department of Correctional Services personnel to work

. It is extremely urgent that a further shift toward more effective rehabilitation be made in the NYS prison system. The combination of addiction treatment, education, job training, and productive work experience can make a major difference.

The time for action is now.