County wary of House Bill 20
The legislation would put onus of inmate recidivism reduction on detention center staff.
January 24, 2018
County officials are concerned legislation introduced in House Bill 20 will create additional county expenses should the unfunded state mandate pass in the current legislative session.
"In essence, this bill would require a current, new county employee to become each individual inmate's social worker," said Richard Primrose, County Manager.
The legislation, HB 20, was introduced during the 53rd Legislature by Reps. Nate Gentry, Daniel A. Ivey-Soto and Mary Kay Papen.
Under HB 20 correctional facilities would be required to implement an "Inmate Recidivism Reduction Transition Program."
The design of this program requires the Quay County Detention Center to provide certain inmates with supports and services designed to reduce recidivism upon release. Every correctional facility shall ensure that each qualifying inmate participates in a "recidivism reduction transition program".
The correctional facility shall ensure that each inmate of that correctional facility who is incarcerated for at least 100 days is screened for mental illness and substance use disorder within 30 days of incarceration in that facility.
Primrose said currently the inmates have an initial screening when they are booked into the facility. He said any type of counseling, mental illness or substance use disorder is contracted through a local professional and paid for by the country through the indigent claims fund.
Pursuant to a recidivism reduction transition program, the correctional facility shall refer each qualifying inmate upon release to case management, evidence-based behavioral health services, employment services and housing.
The correctional facility shall assess what options for payment are available for these services and housing and assist the inmate, to the extent possible, in pairing these services with available payment sources.
Primrose said the county will be responsible for screening each inmate individually to determine their treatment needs. He said before the inmate's release the county must also identify the type of financial assistance each inmate needs and is eligible for to help pay for their treatment. Upon the inmate's release the county will provide the inmate with all of the information for these services, Primrose added.
"Another added requirement with this bill is to facilitate each qualifying inmate's enrollment in Medicaid," Primrose said.
The only source of funding is reimbursement from the New Mexico Human Services Department. The county would need to submit a claim to the department for Medicaid reimbursement for the cost of the recidivism reduction transition program services.
"The county would be responsible for the initial cost of all of these services." Primrose said. "Not only are we dealing with an additional cost to provide all the required services, there will be a cost increase of assigning the duties to a current employee or hiring of a new employee."