A bill that would require incarcerated parents in California to be housed in facilities closest to their children is one step closer to becoming law.
Assembly Bill 1226 advanced out of the Senate Public Safety Committee and will now head to the Senate Appropriations Committee, according to the bill’s author, Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco).
Haney’s bill would require the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to make a concerted effort to house California inmates closer to their children or children in their legal care. Haney says the bill will require CDCR to “respect the rights of minor children to remain in contact with their incarcerated parents.”
Inmates with children who are currently incarcerated would also have the ability to request transfer to the facility closest to their custodial children.
“In a large state like California, there are thousands of incarcerated parents who are placed more than 500 miles from their children,” a spokesperson for Haney’s office said in a news release. “Incarcerated mothers, in particular, struggle to maintain contact with their children. More than half of incarcerated mothers do not receive any visits from their children while they are in prison.”
Haney’s office argues that incarcerated mothers in particular struggle with behavioral health issues which highlights the need for continued contact with their loved ones.
CDCR data shows that the vast majority of California inmates are housed in facilities located further than 100 miles from their homes. Those long distances place undue stress on families and greatly reduces the likelihood of an inmate receiving regular visits from family, according to an audit from the California Department of Finances.
“The long distances place a burden on families who do not have the financial means or the time to travel across the state for family visits,” Haney’s office wrote. “Visitation falls off significantly the farther from home a person is incarcerated.”
The bill passed the California Assembly in May and is currently working its way through the Senate. If it passes through the Senate, it would then head to California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office to be signed into law or rejected.
Haney’s office says the bill has bipartisan support, a healthy indicator that Newsom would likely sign the bill into law.