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House of Representatives
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: April 2, 2019 12:43 PM
From: Representative Patty Kim
To: All House members
Subject: Dignity for Incarcerated Women: Postpartum Housing
The first few moments of a baby’s life, swaddled in the warmth and love of their parent’s arms, is one of the most important experiences both parent and child can have. For incarcerated parents, this experience is often one of pain and loss. They are given the opportunity to bring a child into the world, only to be given barely any chance to raise them and create a true bond.

It is crucial that infants born to incarcerated individuals are given the best chance to develop the strong familial bonds that are important to helping them grow into happy, independent and resilient adults. A baby’s healthy development depends on a loving, consistent bond with a primary caregiver – usually a parent. Increasing evidence in developmental psychology and neurobiology shows that neglect, parental inconsistency and a lack of love can lead to long-term mental health problems for a child.

My legislation would require all correctional institutions to provide an internal, family-centered housing unit for individuals who give birth while incarcerated. This unit would allow the individual and their infant to live together for up to 18 months in an environment supportive of parent-child bonding and would provide access to postnatal care and child care while the incarcerated parent completes treatment, training or work assignments. Offering the appropriate care and support to incarcerated individuals and their babies will help them more successfully transition back into the community and the workforce upon their release.

The health and well-being of our incarcerated parents and their children should be of the utmost importance - it is our duty as public servants to protect our constituents’ right to experience the wonders of parenthood. Please join me in sponsoring this legislation to give babies born in prison the best chance at a healthy, well-adjusted life with their parents.

Introduced as HB1798