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Nearly half of all people behind bars in the United States were living with minor children prior to their incarceration. It is estimated that 10 million minors in this country experience parental incarceration at some point in their childhood and half of all children have a parent with a criminal record. The most recent data collected by California, which remains over a decade old, estimated that nearly 900,000 children in California had a parent in the adult criminal justice system.

Legislation

  • Protects dependent children by providing primary caregivers with the support they need to remain in the home.  
  • Adds a primary caregiver pretrial diversion court to the list of successful, problem-solving courts for people in unique circumstances (such as drug court, mental health court, etc.)  
  • Defines primary caregiver as the custodial parent or legal guardian, who resides in the same household as the dependent child and, either alone or with the assistance of other household members, provides significant necessary care or financial support of the child.  
  • Diverts eligible defendants out of the traditional system and into the pretrial diversion program where s/he is required to participate in programming related to housing, employment, parenting, counseling (family and individual), financial literacy, drug and alcohol treatment, mental health screening and treatment, among others.  
  • Upon satisfactory completion of the diversion program, the charges will be dismissed, and the primary caregiver and dependent child will not be saddled with the debilitating collateral consequences of a criminal conviction.