Parental incarceration is known and recognized as an “adverse childhood experience” (ACE), and can have tangible impacts on young people with an incarcerated parent. These impacts are distinguished from other “adverse child experiences” by a unique combination of trauma, shame and stigma. And have varied impacts on children with an incarcerated parent due to other factors such as access to visitation, duration of incarceration, access to other familial guardians, etc. And this is not to mention the immense trauma that the incarcerated parent faces due to the forced separation with their child.
The Washington State, Senate Bill 5307 hopes to expand Family Offender Sentencing Alternatives and Services statewide.
The current Parental Sentencing Alternative offers sentenced parents who do not commit violent or sexually motivated crimes an alternative to a lengthy prison sentence. This process involves 12 months of community custody (parole) and satisfactory progress on affirmative conditions determined by the judge (e.g. parenting classes, drug or alcohol treatment, mental health treatment, etc.)
The issue with the current Parental Sentencing Alternative is that is mostly just supports parents who have committed drug related crimes. This does not take into account the many instances where people who have been sentenced with violent crimes that did not involve any violence at all. And does not address the complexity that some people who are experiencing violence (e.g. intimate partner violence, mental health, abuse, etc.) will respond with violence, often because of securing personal safety and/or not having any access to services or support.
Senate Bill 5307 hopes to expand Family Offender Sentencing Alternatives to allow more parents in Washington State to have access to an alternative to incarceration so they are able to be present in their children’s lives. Currently Washington State Legislature is taking public comment on their website: https://app.leg.wa.gov/pbc/bill//5307
Please take 2 minutes out of your day to comment in support of Senate Bill 5307!