BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                  SB 962
                                                                  Page  1

          Date of Hearing:   August 4, 2010

                        ASSEMBLY COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
                                Felipe Fuentes, Chair

                     SB 962 (Liu) - As Amended:  August 2, 2010 

          Policy Committee:                             Public  
          SafetyVote:7-0
                       Judiciary                                     10-0

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          Yes    Reimbursable:              No           

           SUMMARY  

          This bill authorizes video or teleconferencing to allow  
          prisoners (Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)  
          inmates and wards as well as county jail inmates) to participate  
          in judicial proceedings involving parental rights. Specifically  
          this bill:

          1)Provides that an inmate who is a parent of a child involved in  
            a dependency hearing and has either waived the right to be  
            present at the hearing, or has not been ordered before the  
            court, may, at the court's discretion, have the opportunity to  
            participate in the hearing via video or teleconferencing, if  
            that participation otherwise complies with the law. 

          2)Specifies parental physical participation at dependency  
            hearings is preferable to video or teleconference, and states  
            that nothing in this bill shall be construed to limit a  
            prisoner's right to attend a dependency hearing. 

          3)Specifies legislative intent that CDCR protect inmates from  
            losing prison jobs or educational opportunities as a result of  
            absence due to participation in child dependency proceedings. 

          4)Authorizes CDCR to accept donated materials and services  
            related to video and teleconferencing for a program, at an  
            institution to be determined by CDCR, to facilitate  
            participation of incarcerated parents in dependency court  
            hearings regarding their children. 

           FISCAL EFFECT  








                                                                 SB 962
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          1)Potential annual moderate GF savings to CDCR to the extent  
            authorizing video or teleconferencing results in fewer inmate  
            trips to court, which require significant guarding and  
            transport costs, which far offset the costs of video and  
            teleconferencing. 

          2)Minor offsetting state costs as the bill is permissive, at the  
            court's discretion, and contingent upon availability of  
            equipment. In addition, the costs of the video and  
            teleconferencing at the one-prison program to be determined by  
            CDCR must be supported by private donations.  

           COMMENTS  

           1)Rationale  . This bill authorizes video or teleconferencing  
            technology to allow inmates to participate in parental rights  
            or dependency hearings. Current law provides inmates the right  
            to attend these proceedings; this bill provides additional  
            options for how they could participate, subject to  
            availability, at the discretion of the court, and if the  
            participation otherwise complies with the law.

          This bill also specifies intent that inmates not lose internal  
            job placement or educational opportunities as a result of  
            participation in these proceedings, whether in person or by  
            video or teleconference. 

           2)Current law  authorizes an inmate to travel to court for  
            dependency hearings. No proceeding terminating parental rights  
            or adjudicating dependency may be held without the presence of  
            the prisoner or the prisoner's attorney, unless the court has  
            received a waiver signed by the prisoner or an affidavit  
            signed by the warden, superintendent, or other person in  
            charge of the institution, or his or her designated  
            representative stating that the prisoner has indicated an  
            intent not to appear at the proceeding. 

           3)Support.  Friends Outside and L.A. Dependency Lawyers, Inc are  
            co-sponsors of this bill and have stated their intent to help  
            supply the necessary videoconferencing equipment necessary to  
            accommodate inmate participation.  











                                                                  SB 962
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           Analysis Prepared by  :    Geoff Long / APPR. / (916) 319-2081