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Introduced by Representatives Haas of Rochester and Lorber of Burlington

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Corrections; department of public safety; judiciary; department for children and families; children of inmates

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to require various agencies involved in the criminal justice system to establish policies, guidelines, and procedures which require consideration of children at every step in the process of arresting and incarcerating parents.  The bill also requires the court to consider the impact of sentencing on any children of the defendant.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:




     (a)  It is the policy of the state of Vermont that, in order to reduce recidivism and intergenerational incarceration, the well-being of children shall be considered at every step of the process when it becomes necessary to arrest and incarcerate their parents.  Therefore, state agencies and others involved in the criminal justice system shall develop policies, guidelines, and procedures designed to ensure that children of arrested and incarcerated parents are informed and kept safe at the time of a parent’s arrest, are considered when decisions are made about a parent, are well cared for when the parent is absent, and are able to spend quality time with an incarcerated parent unless contact would be detrimental to the child.  Each agency head or judge listed in this section shall present a draft of the policies, guidelines, and procedures as requested in this section to the corrections oversight committee on or before September 15, 2008.  Following discussion with the corrections oversight committee, the agency head or judge may revise the policies, guidelines, or procedures and shall then adopt and follow them when working with arrested or incarcerated parents of minor children.

(b)  In this section, “minor child” means a person under the age of 18.

(c)  The commissioner of public safety shall establish procedures for determining if a minor child is present when an arrest is being made, and for arresting the parent in a way that supports and protects the child as much as possible.

(d)  The attorney general, in consultation with the executive director of the department of sheriffs and state’s attorneys, shall establish guidelines for prosecutors to use when prosecuting the parent of a minor child.  The guidelines shall consider:

(1)  the need of the child to be informed about the process;

(2)  the need of the child to maintain quality contact with the parent; and

(3)  the impact of any proposed sentence on termination of parental rights under the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.

(e)  The administrative judge shall establish a policy which requires a family impact statement prior to sentencing a parent of a minor child, and which requires the judge when setting the sentence to consider the impact of any proposed sentence on termination of parental rights under the Federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997.

(f)  The commissioner of corrections shall:

(1)  evaluate whether policies and procedures regarding family contact should be revised, and whether the geographic location of currently incarcerated parents of a minor child should be changed in order to ensure appropriate and maximum visitation and engagement between an inmate and his or her minor child;

(2)  establish policies and procedures for ensuring appropriate and maximum visitation and engagement between an inmate and his or her minor child; and

(3)  establish policies and procedures to ensure that the needs of families with a minor child are considered when setting up conditions of probation or parole.

(g)  The commissioner for children and families shall evaluate whether caregivers of a minor child of an incarcerated parent are receiving support adequate to facilitate normal child development while reducing recidivism and intergenerational incarceration, and shall establish guidelines regarding the supports that caregivers and minor children should receive while a parent is incarcerated.

Sec. 2.  13 V.S.A. § 7030 is amended to read:


(a)  In determining which of the following should be ordered, the court shall consider the nature and circumstances of the crime, the history and character of the defendant, the need for treatment, the impact of various sentencing options on any minor children of the defendant, and the risk to self, others, and the community at large presented by the defendant:

(1)  A deferred sentence pursuant to section 7041 of this title.

(2)  Probation pursuant to section 205 of Title 28.

(3)  Supervised community sentence pursuant to section 352 of Title 28.

(4)  Sentence of imprisonment.

(b)  When ordering a sentence of probation, the court may require participation in the restorative justice program established by chapter 12 of Title 28 as a condition of the sentence.

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont