‘Keep Families Close’ bill signed into law to help children with incarcerated parents 

The bill proposed by California Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) that helps incarcerated parents maintain contact with their children and was signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday. 

AB 1226, known as the “Keep Families Close” bill, orders 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 their child’s home, a press release from Haney’s office said. 

Included in the bill is the option for already incarcerated parents to request a transfer to the prison closest to their child’s home. The bill does not apply to individuals convicted of violence and sex related offenses that prohibit them from having child visitation rights. 

Thousands of incarcerated parents across California are placed in a correctional facility more than 500 miles from their children, Haney’s office said.  

In 2019, CDCR released information revealing that only 25 percent of incarcerated people in California state prisons are placed in institutions less than 100 miles from home. 

“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 said in a press release. 

Haney’s office also stressed the importance of AB 1226 giving incarcerated mothers – half of whom do not receive any visits from their children while in prison – the chance to maintain contact with their children.  

“We know that having a relationship with parents is crucial for a child’s behavioral and emotional development,” said Assemblymember Haney. “Being able to see them on a regular basis, even just during visits, can make a huge difference in a child’s life.” 

AB 1226 will take effect on January 1, 2024. 

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