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Today, we visited Sacramento to make sure our elected leaders understand the catastrophic impacts of incarceration on children and families. 

Last month, we worked with Senator Nancy Skinner to introduce groundbreaking legislation that would keep parents home with their children rather than sending them to prison. The Primary Caregiver Pretrial Diversion Act sets up a new collaborative court that focuses on services and programs rather than incarceration.

Well, we won. The bill passed through the Senate Public Safety Committee and went on to pass a full Senate with an overwhelming majority. 

Now, we’re on to the California State Assembly. So today, formerly incarcerated mothers like Ashleigh took on the Capitol to bravely sharing their stories with key Assemblymembers.

Ashleigh (far right) lobbying in Sacramento with the #cut50 team and her daughter Asia (far left).

Ashleigh was separated from her daughter Asia when she was only three years old. After serving four years in prison, they were finally reunited. But so much time had passed that the two had to work hard at rebuilding their relationship.

Sadly, Ashleigh’s story isn’t unique. 80% of incarcerated women are mothers – many of which serve decades-long prison terms up to thousands of miles away from the little ones who need them most.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. The Primary Caregiver Pretrial Diversion Act would pave pathways to rehabilitation for parents in need, instead of incarceration. Eligible parents and caregivers would be matched with financial literacy courses, mental health and family counseling, and other services that address the underlying causes of crime – keeping families together and making communities stronger.

The Public Safety Committee will be the first group of lawmakers in the Assembly to hear this bill, and we need to build a strong foundation of support in order for this bill to make it through the full Assembly.

Your support makes all the difference to the women in Sacramento bravely sharing their stories with key assemblymembers today. Thank you for being a part of the change they’re spearheading for parents behind bars and the children they left behind.