Montana Public Radio

Montana Department of Corrections

The second study the Law and Justice Interim Committee will oversee will deal with solitary confinement.
Flickr user, BohemianDolls (cc-by-2.0)

In a close vote this morning, lawmakers rejected a bill aiming to reform how state prisons put people with mental illnesses in solitary confinement. The bill introduced by Roger Webb, a Billings Republican, would have outlawed the use of solitary confinement for prisoners with mental illness, except in a few situations.

Shards of methamphetamine hydrochloride, also known as crystal meth.
Radspunk (GFDL)

Lawmakers in Helena are calling for what’s being billed as the “Montana Meth Summit”, a gathering of lawmakers and government officials to talk about the impacts of meth in Montana. Senator Eric Moore, a Republican from Miles City, and Senator Diane Sands, a Missoula Democrat, stood in the Capitol Tuesday afternoon, as they announced a listening session to discuss the trends of meth use across the state.

Gavel.
(PD)

A bipartisan group of lawmakers agreed today to fund new judges for Montana’s burdened court system. But, as lawmakers focus on cutting spending statewide, the future of other services in courts are uncertain.

The Montana Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill to help people get housing after they are released from prison.  The bill’s sponsor said taxpayers foot the bill, but the cost can be reduced.

Senator Cynthia Wolken, D-Missoula, said the Department of Corrections reported as of this morning about 120 people have been granted parole.


Gov. Steve Bullock.
Corin Cates-Carney / MTPR

A month after his reelection, Governor Steve Bullock today announced new people will be running nearly half of his appointed cabinet director positions in his second term.

Bullock announced the exit of six cabinet members during a press conference in the state Capitol today. So far, he’s made picks to fill half the vacancies.

Corrections Director Mike Batista
MT Department of Corrections

The head of the Montana Department of Corrections defended his agency today after state auditors told a legislative committee that the department broke the law by housing adults at youth correctional facilities. 

A bill asking for the end of capital punishment was voted down.
Courtesy Two Rivers Authority

An unanticipated surge in prisoner numbers means Montana’s Department of Corrections has gone over budget, and will likely have to ask state lawmakers for more money in the 2017 legislative session.

Billings Clinic Launches Statewide Project For Mental Health

Jan 21, 2016
Jackie Yamanaka

Billings Clinic launched a new project in Montana yesterday that will provide peer support to health care providers across the state. This pilot project will start in the area of addictions and behavioral health for the Montana Department of Corrections.

Senate Committee Restores Some Funding Cut By House

Apr 3, 2015
Montana Capitol in Helena.
William Marcus / Montana Public Radio

The Senate Finance and Claims Committee added about $55 million of general fund dollars back into the state budget. That’s according to preliminary figures from the Legislative Fiscal Division.

Not quite half of that amount was to cover cost over-runs in the current biennium.

This year’s cost overruns total about $31 million.

House Republicans Block Funding Increases For Correctional System

Mar 19, 2015
State budgets.
(PD)

Today at the Montana Legislature, Democrats pleaded for more money for people working within the Montana correctional system. They asked for raises for public defenders, more parole officers, and raises for officers in the state prison. Democrat Mitch Tropila says the wages are too low for state prison guards, making overtime mandatory and a hard job harder.

“Whenever they have to open one of the gate, they’re subject to having the inmates’ bodily fluids thrown at them, in their face, on their body. But they’re down there every day, they’re down there 24/7, 365.”

Pages