(S.1623/A.2500)

Today, counties are urging both houses of the State Legislature to reject the HALT Act, S.1623 (Sepulveda) / A.2500 (Aubry), which restricts the use of segregated confinement and mandates that county governments create residential rehabilitation units. The legislative memorandum notes that the “local fiscal impact is to be determined,” but costs are projected to reach hundreds of millions of local tax dollars.

The legislation, as drafted, would place an enormous new unfunded mandate on county governments that is beyond the capacity of local governments and is an issue best addressed within the state budget process. “We urge the Legislature not to approve this bill at this time,” said Stephen J. Acquario, executive director, NYS Association of Counties.

The bill requires counties to alter incarceration practices and provide for residential rehabilitation units for special populations. It also limits the amount of time that a non-special population individual would be able to be segregated from the rest of the jail population, a provision that could threaten the general jail population.

“The Governor and State lawmakers this session have successfully enacted sweeping criminal justice reforms designed to support a more just and fair system, and we believe there is more to be done that could support the health and well-being of those who are incarcerated,” said Daniel P. McCoy, Albany County Executive and President of the NYS County Executives Association. “However this particular proposal, while noble in its intent and while addressing many issues of real concern regarding solitary confinement, would require the creation of new alternate facilities for inmates, which could cost tens of millions of dollars for each county to implement. Without a dedicated funding stream included in this bill, my fear is that the costs would only be passed onto the property taxpayers of New York. Accordingly, I ask legislators to consider the impact on localities and to identify funding before passing on another unfunded mandate to already overburdened local governments.”

The New York State Association of Counties is a bipartisan municipal association serving all 62 counties of New York State including the City of New York. Organized in 1925, NYSAC’s mission is to represent, educate, serve and advocate for member counties and the thousands of elected and appointed county officials who serve the public. For more information, visit www.nysac.org