BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    



                                                                       



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          |SENATE RULES COMMITTEE            |                   SB 962|
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                                 THIRD READING


          Bill No:  SB 962
          Author:   Liu (D)
          Amended:  4/20/10
          Vote:     21

           
           SENATE PUBLIC SAFETY COMMITTEE  :  7-0, 3/23/10
          AYES:  Leno, Cogdill, Cedillo, Hancock, Huff, Steinberg,  
            Wright

           SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE  :  4-0, 4/13/10
          AYES:  Corbett, Hancock, Leno, Walters
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Harman

           SENATE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE  :  9-0, 5/3/10
          AYES:  Kehoe, Cox, Corbett, Leno, Price, Walters, Wolk,  
            Wyland, Yee
          NO VOTE RECORDED:  Alquist, Denham


           SUBJECT  :    Prisoners:  adjudication of parental rights:   
          participation

           SOURCE  :     Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers
                      Friends Outside


           DIGEST  :    This bill allows for the use of video or  
          teleconference technology for prisoners to participate in  
          judicial proceedings involving their parental rights or a  
          dependency petition for their child.

           ANALYSIS  :    Existing law provides that, where a judicial  
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          proceeding concerns the termination of the parental rights  
          of any prisoner, or the dependency proceeding involving a  
          prisoner's child, the superior court of the county in which  
          the proceeding is pending, or a judge thereof, shall order  
          notice of any court proceeding regarding the proceeding  
          transmitted to the prisoner, as specified.  (Pen. Code Sec.  
          2625.)

          Existing law further requires the temporary removal of a  
          prisoner from an institution for the prisoner's production  
          before the court where a prisoner has advised the court of  
          his or her desire to be present, as specified.  (Pen. Code  
          Sec. 2625.)

          Existing law provides that no proceeding (terminating  
          parental rights or dependency adjudication) may be held  
          without the physical presence of the prisoner or the  
          prisoner's attorney, unless the court has before it a  
          knowing waiver of the right of physical presence signed by  
          the prisoner or an affidavit signed by the warden,  
          superintendent, or other person in charge of the  
          institution, or his or her designated representative  
          stating that the prisoner has, by express statement or  
          action, indicated an intent not to appear at the  
          proceeding.  (Pen. Code Sec.  2625.)

          This bill provides that a prisoner who is a parent of a  
          child involved in a dependency hearing and who has either  
          waived his or her right to physical presence at the  
          hearing, or who has not been ordered before the court may,  
          at the court's discretion, in order to facilitate the  
          parent's participation, be given the opportunity to  
          participate in the hearing by videoconference, if that  
          technology is available, and if that participation  
          otherwise complies with the law.  If videoconferencing  
          technology is not available, this bill would provide that  
          teleconferencing may be utilized to facilitate parental  
          participation.  The bill specifies that these provisions  
          are not to be construed to limit a prisoner's right to  
          physically attend a dependency hearing.

          This bill states that, because of the significance of  
          dependency court hearings for parental rights and  
          children's long-term care, physical attendance by the  

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          parent at the hearings is preferred to participation by  
          videoconference or teleconference.  

          This bill provides that it does not authorize the use of  
          videoconference or teleconference to replace in-person  
          family visits with prisoners.

          This bill provides that a prisoner subject to this section  
          shall not lose internal job placement opportunities, be  
          removed from a court-ordered course, or be denied any  
          earned privileges as a result of his or her participation  
          in the proceedings described in this section, whether in  
          person or by videoconference or teleconference, unless the  
          prisoner is absent from the institution for this purpose  
          for more than 10 days.

          This bill additionally authorizes the Department of  
          Corrections and Rehabilitation to establish a pilot project  
          to facilitate the participation of incarcerated parents in  
          dependency court hearings regarding their children.

          This bill provides that the costs of the pilot project  
          shall be funded with private funds and shall be implemented  
          only after a determination is made by the Department of  
          Finance that private donations, sufficient to fully support  
          the activities of the project, have been deposited with the  
          state.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :    Appropriation:  No   Fiscal Com.:  Yes    
          Local:  No

                          Fiscal Impact (in thousands)

           Major Provisions                     2010-11               
           2011-12      2012-13        Fund  
          Authorizes CDCR pilot project                Unknown,  
          possibly significant                         Private
                                   Likely minor custody costs, if  
          implemented        General
          Inmate transportation                                   
          Potentially significant savings                              
           General

           SUPPORT  :   (Verified  5/4/10)

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          Los Angeles Dependency Lawyers (co-source) 
          Friends Outside (co-source) 
          California Public Defenders Association
          County Welfare Directors Association
          Family Law Section of the State Bar
          SEIU Local 1000
          Taxpayers for Improving Public Safety


           ARGUMENTS IN SUPPORT  :    According to the author's office: 

               A substantial majority of Californians in the criminal  
               justice system are parents.  The California Research  
               Bureau estimates that 67% of male inmates are fathers  
               and 79% of female inmates are mothers (2000).  Over  
               the last 15 years, an increasing number of adults have  
               been incarcerated under the state's more strict  
               criminal sentencing policies.  As a consequence, the  
               number of children whose parents are in prison has  
               grown.  

               These children often enter and remain in the child  
               welfare system because logistical issues prevent  
               incarcerated parents from maintaining their parental  
               rights, irrespective of their parenting practices.   
               Incarcerated parents often waive physical appearance  
               at a hearing, not because they are unwilling to be  
               present and participate, but because attending may  
               result in the loss of good time credits or  
               rehabilitation program eligibility.  Often these are  
               the very credits or program participation required by  
               the family reunification case plan (Family and  
               Juvenile Law Advisory Committee).  If a parent elects  
               to attend a dependency hearing in person, hearing and  
               travel time can take up to 10 days, greatly damaging  
               the parent's ability to fulfill the family  
               reunification requirements ?.

               ? In the wake of fiscal distress, counties in other  
               states have already begun utilizing video-conferencing  
               for inmates as a cost-saving measure ? SB 962 seeks to  
               prevent unnecessary termination of parental rights by  
               allowing for a cost-savings solution.  

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          RJG:nl  5/4/10   Senate Floor Analyses 

                         SUPPORT/OPPOSITION:  SEE ABOVE

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