The commission was created by Section 101 of the FY2020 General Appropriations Act.
SECTION 101. There shall be a special commission to conduct a comprehensive study to evaluate and make recommendations regarding the appropriate level of funding for the department of correction and each sheriff’s department. The commission shall consist of: 2 persons to be appointed by the senate president, 1 of whom shall serve as co-chair; 2 persons to be appointed by the speaker of the house of representatives, 1 of whom shall serve as co-chair; 1 person to be appointed by the minority leader of the senate; 1 person to be appointed by the minority leader of the house of representatives; the secretary of public safety and security or a designee; the commissioner of correction or a designee; the secretary of administration and finance or a designee; 2 persons to be appointed by the Massachusetts Sheriffs’ Association; the chief justice of the trial court or a designee; the commissioner of probation or a designee; the chairman of the parole board or a designee; 1 person to be appointed by the Massachusetts Bar Association; 1 person to be appointed by the Boston Bar Association; and 3 persons to be appointed by the governor, after considering any recommendations from the Massachusetts Institute for a New Commonwealth, Inc., Pioneer Institute, Inc., Prisoners’ Legal Services and the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, 1 of whom shall be employed by a public or private institution of higher education with an expertise in criminology and criminal justice.
The study shall include, but not be limited to: (i) a review of staffing ratios and employee costs in each state prison and house of correction; (ii) an examination of potential ways to increase efficiencies and reduce fixed costs in state prisons and houses of correction; (iii) an analysis of the amount spent by the department of correction and by each sheriff’s department on mental health and substance use disorder services and the appropriate levels of funding necessary to meet the service needs of incarcerated people; (iv) a review of all discretionary programming offered in state prisons and houses of correction, including an analysis of geographical disparities in discretionary programming; (v) an analysis of chapter 69 of the acts of 2018, its impacts on state prisons and houses of correction and best practices to implement its requirements; (vi) a review of the physical assets, infrastructure, buildings and communications equipment owned by each sheriff’s department and state prison; and (vii) a review of the funding sources for the department of correction and each sheriff’s department, including appropriations from the commonwealth, commissary charges, prison industries, trust fund accounts, intermunicipal agreements, other inmate fees and expenses and other sources of revenue.
The study shall include data for each state prison and house of correction on: (i) inmate population; (ii) costs per inmate, as defined by the commission; (iii) health care expenses; (iv) payroll expenses, including payroll spending on care and custody personnel; and (v) expenses on programming for recidivism reduction, including case management, reentry support, behavioral health counseling, education and vocational or workforce development programs. The report shall include data for the previous 5 fiscal years, the current fiscal year, and projected data for fiscal year 2021 and fiscal year 2022.
The commission shall compare existing funding levels and expenses at each state prison and house of correction and include a recommendation for an appropriate level or allocation of funding. The commission shall recommend targeted solutions for each state prison and house of correction to reduce spending if actual spending is above the recommended level. The commission shall also review the feasibility and advisability of establishing distinct line items for the department of correction and each sheriff’s department to identify funding specifically designated for: (i) fixed costs and payroll spending on care and custody personnel; (ii) recidivism reduction programming; and (iii) any other separate categories as may be identified by the commission. The commission shall propose a funding formula for the department of correction and each sheriff’s department based, in part, on the number of people in their custody and control and the utilization of best practices in recidivism reduction to safely reduce the population of incarcerated people. The proposed funding formula shall, to the extent possible, increase the percentage of spending on evidence-based recidivism reduction programming and reduce or mitigate projected spending increases.
The commission shall have access to data, documents and information necessary for the performance of the commission’s duties under this section. The commission may request, and the department of correction and each sheriff’s department shall provide, any such data, documents or information; provided, however, that nonpublic information shall be provided in an aggregate and de-identified form; provided, further, that nonpublic information relating to a matter that is or may be the subject of litigation shall not be disseminated to any other person or entity, and it shall not be admitted as evidence in any administrative or court proceeding against the department of correction or against any sheriff or sheriff’s department in which a member of the commission is a party to the proceeding; provided further, that members of the commission who are not currently state employees shall be considered special state employees for the purposes of chapter 268A of the General Laws; and provided further, that the commission, in collaboration with the department of correction and each sheriff’s department, shall adopt policies and procedures to ensure the confidentiality of personal information.
The commission shall submit a written report of its findings, including legislative and budgetary recommendations, with the clerks of the senate and house of representatives, the senate and house committees on ways and means and the joint committee on public safety and homeland security not later than September 1, 2020.
Section 77 of Chapter 124 of the Acts of 2020 extended the written report deadline to September 1, 2021.
Section 17 of Chapter 76 of the Acts of 2021 extended the written report deadline to January 31, 2022.