New "Keep Families Close" AB 1226 Requires Incarcerated Parents to be Placed in the Correctional Facility That's Closest to Their Child's Home.
Article Written by Sara Chan
Matt Haney’s (D-San Francisco) AB 1226, known as the “Keep Families Close Bill” finally passed the California Legislature with bipartisan support, and was signed into law by Governor Newsom on July 21, 2023.
This bill requires the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) to place an incarcerated parent, legal guardian, or caregiver of a minor child in the correctional facility closest to that child’s home. The bill also allows already incarcerated parents to request a transfer to the prison closest to their child’s home. AB 1226 doesn’t apply to individuals convicted of certain crimes, such as violence and sex related offenses, that already prohibit them from having child visitation rights.
“We know that having a relationship with parents is crucial for a child’s behavioral and emotional development and being able to see them on a regular basis — even just during visits — can make a huge difference in a young child's life,” said Haney.
In a populous state like California, there are literally thousands of incarcerated parents who are placed as much as 500 miles way from their children. As a result, more than half of incarcerated mothers do not receive any visits from their children while in prison.
Incarcerated mothers, in particular, struggle to maintain contact with their children. Research shows that children with incarcerated mothers particularly struggle with behavioral health issues, which underscores the need for children to maintain contact with their incarcerated parents.
In 2019, CDCR released information that only 25% of incarcerated people in California state prisons are placed in institutions less than 100 miles from home. Long travel distances place a burden on families who do not have the financial means or the time to travel across the state for family visits.
Therefore, visitation falls off significantly the farther from home a person is incarcerated. For example, 50% of people placed less than 50 miles away from home receive frequent family visitation, but only 15% of people placed 500 miles away receive visitors.
The majority of California residents see this law as something that should have been implemented years ago. Fortunately, AB 1226 will take effect starting January 1, 2024.
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Sara Chan (she/her) is a contributing writer for TheGenZPost.com and a full-time political consultant based in Los Angeles, CA. She received her B.A. in Political Science from UC Berkeley and is currently working towards her Master's Degree in in Global Studies & International Relations from Northeastern University. She is a proud member of the California Democratic Party and helps local politicians around the country craft bespoke campaign messaging and concise platforms that appeal to voters of various backgrounds.