BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SCR 20
          Author:   Liu (D)
          Amended:  5/28/09
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  4-0, 5/5/09
          AYES:  Corbett, Harman, Florez, Leno
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Walters

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  Senate Rule 28.8


           SUBJECT  :    Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of Rights

           SOURCE  :     Community Works
                      Friends Outside


           DIGEST  :    This resolution encourages designated entities  
          to distribute the Children of Incarcerated Parents Bill of  
          Rights to children of incarcerated parents, and to invite  
          discussion and encourage relevant departments to use the  
          Bill of Rights as a framework for analysis and  
          determination of procedures when making decisions about  
          services for these children.

           ANALYSIS  :    

          This resolution states that as many as one in ten children  
          have a parent who is in jail, prison, or on parole or  
          probation.

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          This resolution states that over the last 15 years, federal  
          and state governments have expanded and lengthened criminal  
          sentences, particularly for drug offenses, incarcerating an  
          increasing number of adults.  

          This resolution declares that an unintended consequence of  
          this rapid increase in adult incarceration has been the  
          growing number of children whose parents are, or have been,  
          in jail or prison.

          This resolution states that the California sample of a  
          national survey found that two-thirds of the state's prison  
          inmates and 79 percent of the state's female prison inmates  
          were parents, with an average of 2.5 children for the men  
          and 2.9 children for the women.  

          This resolution declares that state law provides very  
          limited direction on how criminal justice authorities  
          should interact with the families and children of  
          prisoners.

          This resolution states that studies indicate that  
          maintaining family bonds during incarceration reduces  
          recidivism for parents and improves outcomes for children.

          This resolution notes that the San Francisco Children of  
          Incarcerated Parents Partnership (SFCIPP) has developed a  
          bill of rights for children of incarcerated parents and has  
          turned it into a resolution for the city.

          This resolution outlines in detail the content of the bill  
          of rights of the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated  
          Parents Partnership.  

          This resolution encourages the State Department of Social  
          Services, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation,  
          the Office of the State Foster Care Ombudsperson, schools,  
          relevant nonprofit organizations, law enforcement agencies,  
          and other departments that interact with children of  
          incarcerated parents to distribute the Bill of Rights  
          created by the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated  
          Parents Partnership to identified children of incarcerated  
          parents, utilizing available funds.


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          This resolution further encourages these entities to invite  
          discussion and encourage relevant departments to use the  
          Bill of Rights as a framework for analysis and  
          determination of procedures when making decisions about  
          services for the children of incarcerated parents.

           Background
           
          Over the past eight years the California Research Bureau  
          has issued a series of reports focusing on California law  
          as it relates to the lives of incarcerated prisoners and  
          their children.   (See Children of Incarcerated Parents,  
          Charlene Wear Simmons, CRB Note Vol. 7, No. 2, March 2000;  
          Children of Arrested Parents: Strategies to Improve Their  
          Safety and Well-Being, Clare M. Nolan, CRB 03-011, July  
          2003; California State Prisoners With Children:  Findings  
          from the 1997 Survey of Inmates in State and Federal  
          Correctional Facilities, M. Anne Powell, M.S.W., CRB  
          03-014, November 2003.)  The reports have highlighted the  
          state's lack of clear policies and laws on how criminal  
          justice authorities, as well as the child welfare system,  
          should respond to circumstances and issues raised by  
          incarcerated parents and their children.  As explained in  
          the reports, there are profound social, mental, and health  
          implications for children whose parents are incarcerated.   
          These problems have become even more pressing as the  
          state's prison population, particularly the female  
          population, continues to increase dramatically.  

          In 2003, SFCIPP published a Bill of Rights for children of  
          incarcerated parents.  The Bill of Rights relies in part on  
          the research conducted by the California Research Bureau,  
          as well as interviews conducted with individuals who have  
          experienced parental incarceration.  

           The SFCIPP Bill of Rights  

          The San Francisco CIPP Bill of Rights sets forth the  
          following principles:

          1. The child has the right to be kept safe and informed at  
             the time of his/her parent's arrest.  Actions to realize  
             this right include, but are not limited to, developing  
             arrest protocols that support and protect children, and  

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             offering the children and their caregivers basic  
             information about the post arrest process.

          2. The child has the right to be heard when decisions are  
             made about him/her.  Actions to realize this right  
             include, but are not limited to, training staff at  
             institutions whose constituency includes children of  
             incarcerated parents, and telling the truth and  
             listening to these children.

          3. The child has the right to be considered when decisions  
             are made about his/her parent.  Actions to realize this  
             right include, but are not limited to, reviewing current  
             sentencing law in terms of its impact on children and  
             families, including a family impact statement in  
             presentence investigation reports, and turning an arrest  
             into an opportunity for family preservation.

          4. The child has the right to be well cared for in his/her  
             parent's absence.  Actions to realize this right  
             include, but are not limited to, supporting children by  
             supporting their caretakers, and offering subsidized  
             guardianship.

          5. The child has the right to speak with, see, and touch  
             his/her parent.  Actions to realize this right include,  
             but are not limited to, providing access to visiting  
             rooms that are child-centered, nonintimidating, and  
             conducive to bonding, considering proximity to family  
             when siting prisons and assigning prisoners, and  
             encouraging child welfare departments to facilitate  
             contact.

          6. The child has the right to support as he/she faces a  
             parent's incarceration.  Actions to realize this right  
             include, but are not limited to, training adults who  
             work with young people to recognize the needs and  
             concerns of children whose parents are incarcerated,  
             providing access to specially trained therapists,  
             counselors, and mentors, allocating five percent of the  
             corrections budget to support prisoners' families.

          7. The child has the right not to be judged, blamed, or  
             labeled because his/her parent is incarcerated.  Actions  

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             to realize this right include, but are not limited to,  
             creating opportunities for these children to communicate  
             with and support each other, creating "a truth fit to  
             tell," and considering differential response when a  
             parent is arrested.

          8. The child has a right to a lifelong relationship with  
             his/her parent.  Actions to realize this right include,  
             but are not limited to, reexamining the federal Adoption  
             and Safe Families Act of 1997, designating a family  
             services coordinator at prisons and jails, supporting  
             incarcerated parents on reentry, and focusing on  
             rehabilitation and alternatives to incarceration.

          These rights encompass important policy goals that will  
          help assure that children's fundamental needs for safety,  
          security, and support are met while their parents are  
          incarcerated.  Children of incarcerated parents are often  
          just victims of circumstance, and public policy is best  
          served by ensuring that they are not ignored, neglected,  
          stigmatized, or deprived of a relationship with their  
          parent(s).

          This resolution does not mandate the use of the SFCIPP Bill  
          of Rights, but rather encourage relevant state departments,  
          agencies, and organizations to distribute the Bill of  
          Rights to children of incarcerated parents.  It also  
          encourages these entities to use the Bill of Rights to  
          foster discussion, and as a framework for analysis and  
          determination of procedures when making decision about  
          services for children of incarcerated parents.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Fiscal Com.:  Yes

           SUPPORT :   (Verified  5/27/09)

          Community Works (co-source)
          Friends Outside (co-source)
          Arkansas Voices for the Children Left Behind, Inc.
          Building Better Bridges
          Community Works
          Contribute
          John Burton Foundation for Children Without Homes
          Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers, Inc.

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          National Bill of Rights Policy Partnership for Children of  
          the Incarcerated


           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    The author's office states, when a  
          parent is incarcerated their children become unintended  
          victims.  The trauma of an arrest event and the resulting  
          parent-child separation can have a profound effect on a  
          child's development, lasting well into adulthood.  Child  
          difficulties include:  difficulty sleeping, poor school  
          performance, truancy, use of alcohol or drugs, delinquency,  
          and an increased likelihood of becoming an inmate later in  
          life.  Although this is an identified at-risk population,  
          California does little to protect the rights of the child  
          and mediate the impact of having an incarcerated parent.


          RJG:do  5/27/09   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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