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Visiting Family Members in Prison Crucially Impacts our Communities - Opinion

Posted by Sara Cooper | Sep 15, 2023 | 0 Comments

Regular visits with incarcerated loved ones is more important than meets the eye. According to research, these physical interactions demonstrate adjustments both emotionally and socially. Decreased recidivism and improvements within family reunification after release are connected to visits from a prisoner's support system.

Assembly Bill 1226, the bill proposed by California Assemblymember Matt Haney (D-San Francisco) that helps incarcerated parents maintain contact with their children, was signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom in July. Known as the “Keep Families Close” bill, it orders the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to place an incarcerated parent, legal guardian or caregiver of a minor child in the correctional facility closest to their child's home. Haney's office was covered by the news where the discussion of incarcerated parents in the state are placed in facilities with an average of more than 500 miles away from their families.

As a person who works with both incarcerated and formerly incarcerated members, contact from the outside is crucial for their hopes and dreams when their sentencing is complete. From letters to phone calls, knowing that a person from the outside is making the time for them is a time the prisoner will see as motivation for living their life after their release. The criminal justice system makes prisoners intentionally isolating, and jail officials will do anything to take any opportunity of joy away from those inside.

With AB 1126, it will be a restructure on how prisons are selected for those that are convicted, making decision making on misdemeanors and felonies more considered. With the impacted history of prison overflowing in California and nationwide to worker exploitation within facilities. Families matter, both on the inside and out. Separation does not mean that connection shouldn't be shut down nor penalized.

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