BILL ANALYSIS Senate Appropriations Committee Fiscal Summary Senator Christine Kehoe, Chair 962 (Liu) Hearing Date: 05/03/2010 Amended: 04/20/2010 Consultant: Jacqueline Wong-HernandezPolicy Vote: Public Safety 7-0 Judiciary 4-0 _________________________________________________________________ ____ BILL SUMMARY: This bill allows, at the court's discretion and subject to availability, videoconferencing or teleconferencing for prison inmates to participate in court proceedings relating to the termination of their parental rights or the court-ordered dependency of their child, as specified. This bill authorizes the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to establish a pilot project to allow videoconferencing or teleconferencing participation, and specifies that is shall be implemented only with private donations. _________________________________________________________________ ____ Fiscal Impact (in thousands) Major Provisions 2010-11 2011-12 2012-13 Fund Authorizes CDCR pilot project **Unknown, possibly significant** Private **Likely minor custody costs, if implemented** General Inmate transportation **Potentially significant savings** General _________________________________________________________________ ____ STAFF COMMENTS: This bill authorizes CDCR to establish a pilot project which would allow inmates who are parents to participate in specified court hearings by video or teleconference, instead of in person. If implemented, this bill could result in significant savings to CDCR to transport inmates to and from dependency hearings. Existing law requires that inmates be notified of any judicial proceeding that, where a judicial proceeding concerns the termination of the their parental rights, or the adjudication of the child of a prisoner a dependent child of the court (Penal Code 2625.) Existing law further gives an inmate the right to attend any such hearing, unless the inmate waives his or her right to attend. This bill is likely to save CDCR significant costs to transport and guard inmates who wish to attend specified dependency hearings which they are statutorily entitled to attend. To the extent that a parent who would have attended a hearing in person chooses to attend by video or teleconference, CDCR would not have to guard or transport that inmate - each hearing can cost CDCR thousands of dollars to allow the inmate to participate. Inmates may also miss work, educational, or counseling programs that they need (and which may ultimately contribute to additional "good time" credits). To the extent that the inmate would have otherwise waived his or her right to attend, and will now participate via videoconference, there may be a minor cost to CDCR to supervise the videoconference. All other aspects of the pilot project must be funded with private donations. Implementing this pilot project is entirely at CDCR's discretion; there is no mandate in this bill.