August 25, 2016 - Bill assuring face to face family visits in CA jails heads to Governor

August 25, 2016


August 25, 2016

Contact:   Charles Stewart

(213) 745-6656 office  (213) 210-1023 cell

SACRAMENTO, CA — Senator Holly J. Mitchell’s measure to assure availability of face-to-face visits in California jails has been approved by the state Legislature and now heads to the Governor for final approval.

Diminished contact with relatives negatively impacts family cohesion, particularly for children.

“Every year California releases thousands of jail inmates whose chances of staying out and straightening up rise in proportion to how closely they stayed in touch with family members while in jail,” opined Senator Holly J. Mitchell, author of SB 1157. “Making sure that those on the inside can stay connected to those on the outside is in the best interest of families and the public.”

More people are in county jails and for longer periods of time, yet in accommodating the increased numbers some jails are substituting onscreen visitation for face-to-face visits between the incarcerated and their family members, instead of using video to supplement the inmates’ in person time with their kin. Seven California counties wired for video (Kings, Madera, Napa, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Mateo, and Solano) have already reduced in person visitation, while nine that are expanding plan to allow no space for anything other than contact via computerized screens.

This measure would require cell facilities to provide for some in-person visitation by 2022, without removing the local authority’s discretion in specific cases.

“I’m hoping Gov. Brown will give us this tool to help heal communities which cope with high re-entry needs,” said Senator Mitchell. “Those whom society gives a second chance are likely to fare better if they don’t come home as strangers in a strange land.”

The Senate sent SB 1157 to the Governor on a strong bipartisan vote of 48-20-12.

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Photo Credit: Grassroots Leadership