TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator Peter J. Barnes requiring correctional facilities to provide inmates with prescription medications that are prescribed for chronic conditions existing before incarceration cleared the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee today.

 The bill, S-384, would require the commissioner and county chief executive officers, wardens or keepers of any county correctional institution to establish a system to ensure those incarcerated are provided necessary medications in a timely manner while in a State correctional facility. 

 “Inmates have a right to adequate medical care while in custody,” said Senator Barnes (D-Middlesex).  “Given that many people within the criminal justice system come from impoverished neighborhoods and backgrounds, many incarcerated individuals enter prison with serious chronic conditions for which they are being treated. Unfortunately, once there, many are not getting the care they need. These are vulnerable individuals with health issues that need to be addressed. While they are incarcerated they should feel secure in knowing their health is not in jeopardy.”

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 The bill would require that previously prescribed medications continue to be administered for a minimum of 30 days from the date the person is committed to the New Jersey Department of Corrections.  The bill would require the facility receiving the individual to resume appropriate and commensurate management of the chronic condition(s), including, but not limited to, use of appropriate therapeutic treatments and medications or their generic substitution in accordance with the State law and regulations established by the commissioner.

 The bill would not require the commissioner and county chief executive officers, wardens or keepers of any county correctional institution to supply incarcerated citizens with medication that is not currently accepted for medical use for treatment in the United States as a matter of federal law.

 Current law requires the Commissioner of Corrections to provide a two-week supply of prescription medication to each inmate within 10 days of their release from incarceration. This bill would address the gap in treatment that inmates encounter when entering prison.

 S-384 cleared the committee by a vote of 5-0 and now heads to the full Senate for consideration.