Dignity Act New Jersey

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 A-3979: The Dignity for Incarcerated Primary Caregiver Parents Act

Bill Status: Introduced May 17, 2018. Check the latest status here 

Bill Author: Assemblywoman Yvonne Lopez

Co-Author: Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle 

Statement from the bill authors:

"A growing segment of the prison population typically is excluded from the criminal justice reform conversation and does not get the attention it deserves: primary caretaker parents behind bars. According to the Sentencing Project, in 2004, 52 percent of inmates in state prisons and 63 percent in federal prisons were parents of minor children. Most parents in prison are fathers, but the rate of female incarceration in America is growing at an alarming rate. While the number of fathers in prison increased 76 percent between 1991 and 2007, the number of mothers in prison increased by 122 percent during that period.

Presumably, the considerable growth in incarcerated parents represents a considerable growth in incarcerated primary caretaker parents. This is significant because these parents face unique challenges. Their incarceration is not their burden to alone share; it also greatly impacts their family. Many incarcerated primary caretaker parents also are faced with difficult and competing choices, like whether to use their limited funds to call home to talk with their children or to purchase hygiene products in the commissary.

It is time for this State to focus on its incarcerated primary caretaker parents and provide them with the protections they deserve."


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