California Senate Bill 394, introduced by Senator Nancy Skinner, was officially signed into law <[link removed]> by Governor Gavin Newsom today!
This is a major victory for the thousands of children and families at risk of being torn apart by parental incarceration. And we must give credit to the hard work of directly impacted advocates like Ashleigh Carter and her daughter Asia, Heide De Leon, and Akilah Sands who traveled to the California State Capitol, shared their stories, and helped build critical support at every step of the legislative process. Their hard work paid off!
<[link removed]>Directly impacted advocates Heidi De Leon and Akilah Sands
SB 394 will create a new collaborative court system in California dedicated to serving parents and primary caregivers at risk of incarceration – a group that requires special consideration because when a parent is incarcerated, their children suffer traumatic and life-long consequences.
Thanks to SB 394, eligible parents and caregivers will have the opportunity to access the support and treatment they need, without being separated from the kids who depend on them. In this new primary caregiver pretrial diversion court, judges will have the option to send people to rehabilitative programs, counseling, financial literacy courses, and other life altering services as an alternative to incarceration.
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Formerly incarcerated parents across California have been advocating for this change to the system after experiencing the devastation of being taken away from their children by the criminal justice system. They traveled to California’s State Capitol to share their stories with lawmakers, often with their children in tow. One fearless advocate was only 13 years old when she moved politicians to tears sharing her story. But as a child who was bullied throughout elementary school for having two parents in prison, she knew the only way to prevent other young girls from feeling her pain was by changing the system.
<[link removed]>Ashleigh Carter and her two daughters, Asia Thomas (left) and Amara (bottom right)
Today, Asia Thomas is reunited with her formerly incarcerated mother, Ashleigh Carter – both of whom have been fierce advocates for this monumental legislative change. After the bill was signed, Ashleigh said:
"Knowing that SB 394 is signed into law, I'm confident that no parent will ever have to endure the pain and trauma that my family endured. Leaving my daughter to self-surrender to federal prison was the hardest moment of my life but since I've been home, we cherish every moment together. There is nothing more important in my life than being a mother and I have hope knowing that parents and primary caregivers will be more than their worst mistake. I applaud a bipartisan coalition in the California legislature for working together to invest in parents, not prison, and thank Governor Newsom for his commitment to smart policies that give people a chance."
You can celebrate this major win with Ashleigh, her daughter Asia, and 10+ million children across America who have been impacted by parental incarceration by sharing the news of this incredible victory. <[link removed]>
With strength and resiliency,
The #cut50 team
PS: Not on Twitter? You can also spread the word on Facebook: <[link removed]>drm.to/SB394FB <[link removed]>.
The Dream Corps - 436 14th St, Suite 920, Oakland, CA 94612, United States
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