Assembly Passes Bill to Help Families Gain Clarity over Inmate Deaths

Bronx, N.Y. – Making a difficult situation somewhat easier for families having to deal with the passing of a loved one behind bars, the New York State Assembly passed Assembly Bill A.7500 on March 28. First introduced by Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner (D-Bronx, 77th AD), this year’s unanimous vote marks the second straight year that this legislation, which will provide faster notification of the next of kin of the death of an inmate, has been approved by the Assembly.

Assembly Bill A.7500 calls for New York Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) to be responsive to an inmate’s next of kin or other designated person, who seeks additional information regarding the circumstances surrounding their passing. According to DOCCS, there were a total of 501 inmate deaths during the four year period from 2009-2012.

“For the second straight year, my colleagues in the Assembly have unanimously supported families that have loved ones behind bars. Every inmate is someone’s mother or father, brother or sister, son or daughter. No one should have to wait 18 months before receiving details regarding the death of someone they care about that is in custody,” said Assemblywoman Joyner. “This bill will help family members gain clarity by speeding up the process by which they obtain information, and make it somewhat easier to grieve the loss by offering some closure and details surrounding their passing.”