senate Bill S1789
(D, WF) 33rd Senate District
- In Committee
- On Floor Calendar
- Passed Senate
- Passed Assembly
- Delivered to Governor
- Signed/Vetoed by Governor
Establishes a pilot project for placement of inmates close to home; provides that such project would house inmates who are parents of minor children in the correctional facility located in closest proximity to the primary place of residence of any such inmate's minor child or children.
TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the correction law, in relation to
establishing the pilot project for the placement of inmates close to
home; and providing for the repeal of such provisions upon expiration
PURPOSE: To conduct a pilot program placing certain inmates in
facilities closer to the communities where their children reside
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS:
Section one of the bill is the legislative intent.
Section two of the bill is the name of this act which shall be the
"pilot Project for Placement of Inmates close to Home'.
Section three of this bill establishes the pilot program in a facility
of the Department of Corrections' choosing which will house inmate
volunteers whose minor children reside close to the facility in order
to facilitate visitation between the inmate parent and his or her
child. The Office of Children and Family Services and/or the local
district social services offices will be consulted as to the
appropriateness of visitation before any inmate is admitted to the
program. Further, an independent, academic analysis is required to
determine the effectiveness of this pilot and make recommendations, if
any, for expansion and improvement.
Section four is the effective date.
JUSTIFICATION: Approximately 59% of all New York state prison and
jail inmates are parents. For women under custody in New York the
number is closer to 71%. More than 80,000 minor children in New York
State have a parent incarcerated in a state prison. Transportation
provides a major barrier to visitation.
Inmates are often placed in prisons far from their children and far
from home. Male inmates at Lakeview Correctional Facility who come
from New York City are more than 400 miles from home, while female
inmates at Albion are around 375 miles from New York City. Distances
are large and public transportation is difficult, especially with the
termination of the longstanding DOGS free bus program that provided
visitors with transportation to remote prisons from sites around the
For children in foster care, distance is the number one barrier to
legally mandated visits with their incarcerated parents. Social
service agencies are required to maintain contact with incarcerated
parents (except in cases where a court has ruled otherwise) including
bringing children for visits with parents in prison. When the goal is
reunification the requirement to provide visits extends to the
tri-state area. Non-compliance is routine in large part because of the
distance. Given the caseloads and demands on child welfare workers, it
is difficult to take a whole day or two for one parent-child visit. As
a result, children in foster care with incarcerated parents suffer
greatly from lack of parental contact. Without visits, an
incarcerated parent is at great risk for termination of his or hem
parental rights, the permanent legal severing of the parent-child
Recent studies have emphasized the importance of visits and family
ties in the prevention of recidivism. One study found that every visit
a prisoner received measurably and increasingly lowered the likelihood
of recidivism. Visits by relatives, including children, seem to matter
most when it comes to reducing recidivism, creating a significant
public safety benefit to supporting the maintenance of parent-child
and other ties during incarceration.
Children who have parents in prison are significantly affected by the
frequency and quality of contact with their parents. While there are
instances when visits are not in children's best interest, for most
children visits are beneficial to their psychological and emotional
well-being, their physical health and development, and can help smooth
the reentry process and family reunification. Children of incarcerated
parents are recognized as an at-risk population and parental
incarceration is now included as an ACE factor, as "Adverse Childhood
Experience," that can negatively affect children's development. The
risks for children associated with having an incarcerated parent can
be significantly mitigated by the continuing presence of the parent in
the child's life, through visitation, telephone contact, and letters.
The number one way to promote visiting is by reducing the distances
between the incarcerated parent and their children.
While the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision normally
places inmates in prisons based on classification by security level
and programmatic needs, this pilot program will explore the use of a
third criterion, proximity to an inmate's minor children. The purpose
of this act is to establish a pilot program to assess the effects of
housing inmates who are parents of minor children close to home in
order to facilitate visitation between such parents and their
children. The department will select GO inmate volunteers to be housed
in a facility closest to the communities where their children reside
where such facility is an otherwise appropriate placement for them.
The department will be required to report to the legislature and the
governor on the effectiveness of the pilot program and make
recommendations for expansion to other correctional facilities in
order to place more inmates close to their families and minor
children. Should the pilot program prove beneficial, the expectation
is that the program will be broadened to allow more inmates to be
housed in close proximity to their home communities, thus facilitating
visitation and contacts with their children and other family members.
This bill also calls for an independent, academic analysis of the
effect of the pilot program prepared in consultation. with the
department. Such analysis will report on the impact, if any, the
placement of such inmates closest to the communities where their
children reside has had on the inmates themselves, the safety and
security of the facility, the foster care case and local social
service agency, if applicable, and, where possible, on the family
members and children involved as well as any other effect of the
program that can be measured. The report shall include recommendations
as to the future of the program and what modifications would be
recommended in order to improve implementation and outcomes.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY: New Bill.
FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
LOCAL FISCAL IMPLICATIONS: None.
EFFECTIVE DATE: This act shall take effect six months after it shall
have become law.
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