BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



          SENATE COMMITTEE ON VETERANS AFFAIRS
                             Senator Jim Nielsen, Chair
                                2015 - 2016  Regular 

          Bill No:             AB 1530        Hearing Date:    6/23/15
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Author:    |Committee on Veterans Affairs                        |
          |-----------+-----------------------------------------------------|
          |Version:   |3/18/15    Introduced                                |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Urgency:   |No                     |Fiscal:    |Yes              |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          |Consultant:|Wade Cooper Teasdale                                 |
          |           |                                                     |
           ----------------------------------------------------------------- 
          

           Subject:  Veterans: service advocate: correctional facilities.


           DESCRIPTION
            
          Summary:
           
          Revises the definition of "veteran" within Article 6 of the  
          Penal Code (PEN), pertaining to state prison inmates who served  
          in the U.S. Armed Forces.

           Existing law:

           1)Requires the California Department of Corrections and  
            Rehabilitation (CDCR) to develop guidance policies relative to  
            the release of veterans who are inmates with the intent to  
            assist veterans who are inmates in pursuing claims for federal  
            veterans' benefits, or in establishing rights to any other  
            privilege, preference, care, or compensation provided under  
            federal or state law because of honorable service in the  
            military. [PEN  2695; Military and Veterans Code (MVC)   
            1840]

          2)Authorizes a veterans service organization to volunteer to  
            serve as a veterans service advocate at each facility that is  
            under the jurisdiction of the department. (PEN  2695.1)

          3)Authorizes the advocate to develop a veterans economic  
            recidivism prevention plan for each inmate who is a veteran.  
            (PEN  2695.2)







          AB 1530 (Committee on Veterans Affairs)                           
                                         Page 2 of ?
          
          

          4)Defines "veteran" for these purposes as a person who has been  
            discharged from the United States Army, United States Navy,  
            United States Air Force, United States Marine Corps, United  
            States Coast Guard, the Merchant Marine, or the American Red  
            Cross. (PEN  2695.5)
           
          This bill:
           
          Revises the definition of "veteran" in Section 2695.5 of the  
          Penal Code as follows:

          1)Deletes the reference to the American Red Cross;  
           2)Includes a person who has been discharged from the National  
            Guard of any state.  
             
             

                                     BACKGROUND
           
          In popular usage, the term "veteran" commonly applies to any  
          person who served with a military, naval, or air service branch  
          of the U.S. Armed Forces. In technical and legal usage, the term  
          "veteran" applies to those who have served on qualifying active  
          duty (as specified by Title 10 U.S. Code) and whose discharge or  
          release from active service was under conditions other than  
          dishonorable

           Relevant federal law
           
          1)Limits the veterans' benefits a veteran may receive while  
            he/she is incarcerated for a felony, except provides a 60-day  
            grace period where the incarcerated veteran may still receive  
            full benefits.  The withholding of benefits begins on the 61st  
            day of incarceration.  (38 United States Code (U.S.C.) Section  
            5313, subd. (a)(1); 38 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.)  
            Section 3.666, subd. (a))

          2)States that an incarcerated veteran is entitled to full  
            benefits while he or she is participating in a work-release  
            program or is residing in a halfway house.  (38 U.S.C. Section  
            5313, subd. (a)(2).)

          3)Allows the dependents of an incarcerated felon to receive an  








          AB 1530 (Committee on Veterans Affairs)                           
                                         Page 3 of ?
          
          
            apportionment of the benefits to which the incarcerated  
            veteran would have been entitled, unless the dependent is  
            incarcerated for a felony.  (38 U.S.C. Section 5313, subd.  
            (b))

          4)Prohibits compensation on behalf of a veteran for any period  
            during which he/she is a "fugitive felon."  (38 U.S.C. Section  
            5313B; 38 C.F.R. Section 3.666, subd. (n))

          5)Existing law defines a "fugitive felon" as a person who is a  
            fugitive by reason of:

             a)   Avoiding prosecution, or custody or confinement after  
               conviction, for an offense, or an attempt to commit an  
               offense, which is a felony under the laws of the place from  
               which the person flees; or

             b)   Violating a condition of probation or parole imposed for  
               commission of a felony under Federal or State law.  (38  
               U.S.C. Section 5313B, subd. (b))

          1)Requires restoration of withheld benefits if a conviction is  
            overturned on appeal.  (38 C.F.R. Section 3.666, subd. (m))

           Relevant California law

           1)Contains a number of provisions aimed at assisting California  
            veterans, such as farm and home loan assistance (Military and  
            Veterans (MVC) Code Section 987.50 et seq.), business  
            enterprise opportunities (MVC Sections 999 to 999.13), and  
            educational assistance (MVC Section 981 et seq)

          2)Requires CDCR to "conduct assessments of all inmates that  
            include, but are not limited to, data regarding the inmate's  
            history of substance abuse, medical and mental health,  
            education, family background, criminal activity, and social  
            functioning.  The assessments shall be used to place inmates  
            in programs that will aid in their reentry to society and that  
            will most likely reduce the inmate's chances of reoffending."   
            (Penal Code Section 3020)

          In 2012, AB 2490 added the requirement that CDCR develop  
          policies to assist veteran inmates in pursuing veteran's  
          benefits. It also allows CDCR to coordinate with the Department  








          AB 1530 (Committee on Veterans Affairs)                           
                                         Page 4 of ?
          
          
          of Veterans Affairs (CalVet), county veterans services officers  
          (CVSOs), or veterans service organizations (American Legion,  
          Veterans of Foreign Wars, etc.) in developing the policies.

          AB 2490 (2012) requires the Department of Corrections and  
          Rehabilitation (CDCR) to develop guidance policies relative to  
          the release of veterans who are inmates.  This bill requires  
          policies to be developed to assist veterans who are inmates  
          pursuing claims for federal veteran's benefits, or establishing  
          rights to any other privilege, preference, care, or compensation  
          which veterans are entitled under federal or state law.  This  
          bill states the CDCR, in developing the policies, may coordinate  
          with the Department of Veterans Affairs and the county veterans  
          service officer or veterans service organizations.
           

                                       COMMENT
           
           Committee analytical comments
           
          1)In 2014, AB 2263 added Sections 2695.1, 2695.2, 2695.3,  
            2695.4, and 2695.5, the latter of which installed the  
            following definition into existing law: 

               "Veteran" means a person who has been discharged from the  
               United States Army, United States Navy, United States Air  
               Force, United States Marine Corps, United States Coast  
               Guard, the Merchant Marine, or the American Red Cross. 

          2)In popular usage, the term "veteran" commonly applies to any  
            person who served with a military, naval, or air service  
            branch of the U.S. Armed Forces. In technical and legal usage,  
            the term "veteran" applies to those who have served on  
            qualifying active duty (as specified by Title 10 U.S. Code)  
            and whose discharge or release from active service was under  
            conditions other than dishonorable.

             a)   The American Red Cross (ARC) is not a military  
               organization, and current or former employment with the ARC  
               does not convey veteran status.

             b)   The National Guard is a federally recognized military  
               organization, which is a formal component of both the U.S.  
               Army and U.S. Air Force; however, an individual Guard must  








          AB 1530 (Committee on Veterans Affairs)                           
                                         Page 5 of ?
          
          
               be mobilized onto active duty (as specified by Title 10 of  
               the U.S. Code) in order to qualify for federal and most  
               state veterans benefits. The state does provide certain  
               benefits to former Guard members if even they do not  
               qualify for federal benefits.

            It is the general intent of this bill to assist former  
            military members who are incarcerated as they may be eligible  
            for benefits not available to those who have not undertaken  
            military service.  It has been the policy of this state to  
            include the National Guard explicitly where appropriate to  
            clarify that its members are included.  


           Related/prior legislation
           
          Assembly Bill 2263 (Bradford, Chapter 652, Statutes of 2014) (1)  
          authorizes a veterans service organization to volunteer to serve  
          as a veterans service advocate at each facility under the  
          jurisdiction of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation  
          (CDCR) to assist veteran inmates with securing specified  
          benefits upon their release and (2) defines "veteran" for this  
          purpose.

          AB 2490 (Butler, Chapter 407, Statutes of 2012) requires CDCR to  
          develop guidance policies assisting inmates, who are military  
          veterans, in pursuing claims for legitimately earned federal  
          veterans' benefits.


                                       POSITIONS
           
          Sponsor:  Author

          Support:  
          AMVETS - Department of California
          Jewish War Veterans
          Military Officers Association of America - California Council of  
          Chapters
          Vietnam Veterans of American - California State Council

          Oppose:   None received










          AB 1530 (Committee on Veterans Affairs)                           
                                         Page 6 of ?
          
          
                                      -- END --