86R1992 JG-D
  By: Miles S.B. No. 188
  relating to the creation of the office of independent oversight
  ombudsman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.
         SECTION 1.  Subtitle G, Title 4, Government Code, is amended
  by adding Chapter 512 to read as follows:
         Sec. 512.001.  DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
               (1)  "Facility" means a facility operated by or under
  contract with the department that is used primarily for the
  confinement of offenders.
               (2)  "Offender" means an inmate or state jail defendant
  confined in a facility.
               (3)  "Office" means the office of independent oversight
               (4)  "Ombudsman" means the individual appointed under
  this chapter as ombudsman for the office.
         Sec. 512.002.  ESTABLISHMENT; PURPOSE. The office is a
  state agency established for the purpose of monitoring the
  conditions of confinement and treatment of offenders and
  investigating, evaluating, and securing the rights of offenders.
  The office is also responsible for in-depth review and analysis of
  data, determination of long-term needs, identification of critical
  issues and corresponding solutions, and assessment of the efficacy
  of existing programs.
         Sec. 512.003.  INDEPENDENCE. The ombudsman acts
  independently of the department and the board in the performance of
  the ombudsman's powers and duties under this chapter.
  (a) The office is administratively attached to the Commission on
  Jail Standards.
         (b)  The Commission on Jail Standards shall provide office
  space and administrative support services, including human
  resources, budgetary, accounting, purchasing, payroll, information
  technology, and legal support services, to the office as necessary
  to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
         (c)  The office, in accordance with the rules and procedures
  of the Legislative Budget Board, shall prepare, approve, and submit
  a legislative appropriations request that is used to develop the
  office's budget structure. The office shall maintain the
  legislative appropriations request and budget structure separately
  from those of the Commission on Jail Standards and the department.
         Sec. 512.051.  APPOINTMENT OF OMBUDSMAN. (a) The governor
  shall appoint the ombudsman with the advice and consent of the
  senate for a term of four years. The ombudsman may be removed by the
  governor only for good cause.
         (b)  A person may not serve as ombudsman for more than two
         Sec. 512.052.  ASSISTANTS. The ombudsman may appoint
  assistants to perform, under the direction of the ombudsman, the
  same duties and exercise the same powers as the ombudsman.
         Sec. 512.053.  CONFLICT OF INTEREST. (a)  A person may not
  serve as ombudsman or as an assistant ombudsman if the person or the
  person's spouse:
               (1)  is employed by or participates in the management
  of a business entity or other organization receiving funds from the
  department or the office or was employed by or participated in the
  management of such an entity or organization in the five years
  preceding the date of the person's appointment;
               (2)  owns or controls, directly or indirectly, any
  interest in a business entity or other organization receiving funds
  from the department or the office;
               (3)  uses or receives any amount of tangible goods,
  services, or funds from the department or the office; or
               (4)  is an officer, employee, manager, or paid
  consultant of the department.
         (b)  A person may not serve as ombudsman or as an assistant
  ombudsman if the person or the person's spouse is required to
  register as a lobbyist under Chapter 305 because of the person's
  activities for compensation on behalf of a profession related to
  the operation of the department or the office.
         (c)  A person may not serve as ombudsman or as an assistant
  ombudsman if the person or the person's spouse is an officer,
  employee, manager, or paid consultant of a Texas trade association
  in the field of criminal or juvenile justice.
         (d)  In this section, "Texas trade association" means a
  nonprofit, cooperative, and voluntarily joined association of
  business or professional competitors in this state designed to
  assist its members and its industry or profession in dealing with
  mutual business or professional problems and in promoting their
  common interest.
         Sec. 512.054.  REPORT. (a) The ombudsman shall prepare and
  submit to the governor, the lieutenant governor, the state auditor,
  and each member of the legislature:
               (1)  periodic reports that evaluate any current issues
  at individual facilities; and
               (2)  an annual report that is both aggregated and
  disaggregated by individual facility and describes:
                     (A)  the work of the ombudsman and office;
                     (B)  the results of any review or investigation
  undertaken by the ombudsman, including any review or investigation
  of services contracted by the department; and
                     (C)  any recommendations that the ombudsman has
                           (i)  the duties of the ombudsman; or
                           (ii)  the operations of the department.
         (b)  The ombudsman shall immediately report to the executive
  director or the executive director's designee, the governor, the
  lieutenant governor, the speaker of the house of representatives,
  the state auditor, and the office of the inspector general of the
  department any particularly serious or flagrant:
               (1)  case of abuse or injury of an offender;
               (2)  problem concerning the administration of a
  department program or operation;
               (3)  problem concerning the delivery of services in a
  facility; or
               (4)  interference by the department with an
  investigation conducted by the office.
         (c)  The department shall develop a corrective action plan to
  specifically address any recommendation made by the ombudsman in a
  report submitted under this section.
         (d)  The ombudsman shall make public each report submitted
  and corrective action plan developed under this section.
         Sec. 512.055.  COMMUNICATION AND CONFIDENTIALITY. (a)  The
  department shall establish procedures allowing any offender or
  facility administrator or employee to communicate with the
  ombudsman or an assistant ombudsman regarding a power or duty of the
  ombudsman or office. The communication:
               (1)  may be in person, by mail, or by any other means;
               (2)  is confidential and privileged.
         (b)  The records of the ombudsman are confidential, except
  that the ombudsman shall:
               (1)  share with the office of inspector general of the
  department a communication with an offender that may involve abuse
  or neglect; and
               (2)  disclose the ombudsman's nonprivileged records if
  required by a court order on a showing of good cause.
         (c)  The ombudsman may make public any report relating to an
  investigation after the investigation is complete, except that the
  names of all offenders, family members, and employees remain
  confidential and must be redacted before the report is made public.
         (d)  The name, address, and other personally identifiable
  information of a person who files a complaint with the office,
  information generated by the office in the course of an
  investigation, and confidential records obtained by the office are
  confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552,
  except that the information and records, other than confidential
  information and records concerning a pending law enforcement
  investigation or criminal action, may be disclosed to an
  appropriate person if the office determines that disclosure is:
               (1)  in the public interest;
               (2)  necessary to enable the office or ombudsman to
  perform a duty under this chapter; or
               (3)  necessary to identify, prevent, or treat physical
  or sexual assault or neglect of an offender.
         Sec. 512.056.  PROMOTION OF AWARENESS. The ombudsman shall
  promote awareness among the department, the public, and offenders
               (1)  how the office may be contacted;
               (2)  the purpose of the office; and
               (3)  the services the office provides.
         Sec. 512.057.  RULEMAKING AUTHORITY. The office by rule
  shall establish policies and procedures for the operations of the
         Sec. 512.058.  AUTHORITY OF STATE AUDITOR. The office is
  subject to audit by the state auditor in accordance with Chapter
         Sec. 512.101.  POWERS AND DUTIES. (a)  The ombudsman shall:
               (1)  review the procedures established by the
  department and evaluate the delivery of services to offenders to
  identify alternate procedures or services that would optimize the
  use of state resources while ensuring that the rights of offenders
  are fully observed;
               (2)  review complaints concerning actions of the
               (3)  conduct investigations of complaints and review
  criminal investigations conducted by the office of the inspector
  general of the department if the ombudsman determines that:
                     (A)  an offender or an offender's family may be in
  need of assistance from the ombudsman; or
                     (B)  a pattern of complaints exists suggesting
  that an issue affects more than one offender;
               (4)  conduct audits to ensure compliance with the
  Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (34 U.S.C. Section 30301 et
  seq.) and any regulation adopted under that act;
               (5)  review or inspect periodically the facilities and
  procedures of any institution or residence in which an offender has
  been placed by the department, whether public or private, to ensure
  that the rights of offenders are fully observed;
               (6)  provide assistance to an offender or family member
  who the ombudsman determines is in need of assistance, including
  advocating with an agency, provider, or other person in the best
  interests of the offender;
               (7)  review court orders as necessary to fulfill the
  ombudsman's duties;
               (8)  recommend changes in any procedure relating to the
  treatment of offenders;
               (9)  make appropriate referrals under any of the powers
  and duties listed in this subsection; and
               (10)  supervise an assistant ombudsman in the
  assistant's representation of offenders in internal administrative
  and disciplinary hearings.
         (b)  The ombudsman may inform persons who are interested in
  an offender's welfare of the rights of the offender.
         (c)  To determine if an offender's rights have been violated,
  the ombudsman may, in any matter that does not involve alleged
  criminal behavior, contact or consult with an administrator, an
  employee, a family member, an expert, another offender, or any
  other individual in the course of the ombudsman's investigation or
  to secure information.
         (d)  Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter,
  the ombudsman may not investigate alleged criminal behavior, except
  that the ombudsman may review, in accordance with Subsection
  (a)(3), a criminal investigation conducted by the office of the
  inspector general of the department to ensure that the
  investigation was conducted in an accurate, unbiased, and thorough
         (e)  The office may contract with subject matter experts as
  necessary to carry out a duty under this chapter.
         Sec. 512.102.  RETALIATION PROHIBITED. The department may
               (1)  discharge, discipline, or in any manner
  discriminate or retaliate against an employee who makes a good
  faith complaint to the office or cooperates with an investigation
  under this chapter; or
               (2)  discipline or in any manner discriminate or
  retaliate against an offender who complains to or communicates or
  cooperates with the office in the course of the office carrying out
  its duties.
         Sec. 512.103.  TRAINING. The ombudsman may attend training
  sessions for correctional officers or participate in other
  appropriate professional training.
  ENTITIES. (a) The department shall allow the ombudsman access to
  the department's records relating to an offender or investigation.
         (b)  The Department of Public Safety and any local law
  enforcement agency shall allow the ombudsman access to their
  records relating to any offender.
         (c)  In allowing access to records under this section, the
  department, the Department of Public Safety, or a local law
  enforcement agency shall fully cooperate and collaborate with the
  office in a prompt manner in order for the office to carry out its
  duties and improve facility operations and conditions.
  The ombudsman may subpoena the records of a private entity that
  relate to a complaint the ombudsman is investigating.
         Sec. 512.153.  ACCESS TO FACILITIES AND PERSONNEL. (a) The
  office may inspect or review without notice any part of a facility
  or any facility operation, policy, or procedure, including any
  operation, policy, or procedure relating to:
               (1)  a condition of confinement;
               (2)  offender discipline and the use of force against
               (3)  an incident of assault or sexual assault;
               (4)  death of or serious bodily injury to an offender;
               (5)  the provision of health care, including mental
  health care;
               (6)  the offender grievance process;
               (7)  a telephone, mail, or visitation policy;
               (8)  a rehabilitation, reentry, or reintegration
  program; and
               (9)  employee recruitment, training, supervision, or
         (b)  In conducting an investigation, the office may:
               (1)  interview offenders and facility administrators
  or employees;
               (2)  hold public hearings; and
               (3)  issue a subpoena to compel the attendance of a
  relevant witness or the production of relevant records or
  (a) An advisory board is created to advise the office in carrying
  out the office's duties under this chapter.
         (b)  The advisory board is composed of the following members:
               (1)  three members appointed by the governor;
               (2)  three members appointed by the chair of the
  standing committee of the house of representatives having primary
  jurisdiction over the department;
               (3)  three members appointed by the chair of the
  standing committee of the senate having primary jurisdiction over
  the department;
               (4)  one member appointed by the primary author of the
  legislation enacting this chapter, but only if the author continues
  to be a member of the legislature; and
               (5)  one member appointed by the primary sponsor of the
  legislation enacting this chapter, but only if the sponsor
  continues to be a member of the legislature.
         (c)  The members appointed under Subsection (b) must
               (1)  one member who is a family member of an offender or
  a former offender;
               (2)  one member who is a health care professional;
               (3)  one member who is a social worker;
               (4)  one member with expertise in administrative or
  criminal investigations;
               (5)  one member with expertise in sexual assault victim
               (6)  one member with expertise in occupational safety
  and health; and
               (7)  one member with expertise in research and data
         (d)  Chapter 2110 does not apply to the composition or
  duration of the advisory board.
         SECTION 2.  As soon as practicable after the effective date
  of this Act, the governor shall appoint an initial ombudsman under
  Chapter 512, Government Code, as added by this Act, to a term
  expiring February 1, 2023.
         SECTION 3.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2019.