|BILL AS INTRODUCED||2007-2008|
Introduced by Senator Miller of Chittenden District, Senator Condos of Chittenden District and Senator Snelling of Chittenden District
Subject: Public safety; corrections; agency of human services; children of arrested and incarcerated parents
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to require agencies involved in arresting and incarcerating people to adopt rules which require consideration of children when arresting and incarcerating parents; to require these agencies to ensure that employees receive appropriate training; and to direct the secretary of human services to establish a process for development of community protocols for responding to a child of an incarcerated parent.
AN ACT RELATING TO PROTECTIONS FOR CHILDREN OF ARRESTED AND INCARCERATED PARENTS
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. CHILDREN OF ARRESTED AND INCARCERATED PARENTS; RULES; DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY; DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
(a) It is the policy of the state of Vermont that the safety and well-being of children shall be considered when it becomes necessary to arrest and incarcerate their parents. Therefore, state agencies involved in arresting and incarcerating people shall adopt rules designed to ensure that children of arrested and incarcerated parents are kept safe at the time of a parent’s arrest and are well cared for when the parent is absent. Each agency listed in this section shall adopt the requested rules no later than January 31, 2009.
(b) In this section, “child” means a person under the age of 18, and “parent” means the parent of a child.
(c) The commissioner of public safety shall adopt a rule listing questions to be asked of a person being arrested or a responsible person present at the time of the arrest. Questions shall include:
(1) Are there children presently living in the household in which the arrest is taking place?
(2) Does the arrestee have children or others who are dependent on the arrestee for their care? Is the arrestee responsible for them?
(3) Does the arrestee have a plan for a dependent child’s care in his or her absence? What are the arrangements for the safe care of the child? What are the options for care?
(d) The commissioner of corrections shall adopt a rule listing questions to be asked of a person within two days of entering the prison system. The rule shall include procedures for documenting and maintaining the answers. Questions shall include:
(1) Are you a parent?
(2) Were you caring for your child at the time of arrest? Are you legally responsible for the child and if not, who is responsible?
(3) What are the arrangements that you have made for your child in your absence? What is the legal status of this arrangement?
(4) Do you have a relationship with a state or community agency that helps to care for children?
(e) The commissioner of public safety and the commissioner of corrections shall each adopt a rule describing the training, including initial and ongoing training, that shall be given each employee who might be involved in arresting a parent or providing services to an incarcerated parent. At a minimum, the training for department of public safety personnel shall include training in asking questions pursuant to the rule adopted under subsection (c) of this section, taking appropriate steps to ensure the safety of a child whose parent or primary care giver is arrested, minimizing the trauma for a child who is present at the time of an arrest, and techniques for talking with a child about a parent’s situation. At a minimum, the training for department of corrections personnel shall include training in asking questions pursuant to the rule adopted under subsection (d) of this section, knowledge of children’s mental health services available, an understanding of the impact of parental incarceration on a child’s development, and techniques for talking with a child about a parent’s situation.
Sec. 2. COMMUNITY CARE OF A CHILD OF AN INCARCERATED PARENT; COMMUNITY SERVICES PROTOCOLS
(a) The secretary of human services shall appoint a committee in each agency catchment area to consist of the agency field services director, department of corrections district director, the corrections facility superintendent or designee if there is a corrections facility in the catchment area, at least one community-based service provider, a person who was either an inmate or whose parent was an inmate when that person was a child, and other members as appropriate. The secretary shall charge each committee with developing protocols to ensure a coordinated community response to a child of an incarcerated parent.
(b) Each committee appointed under subsection (a) of this section shall consult the “Children of Incarcerated Parents: A Bill of Rights” published by the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership, Rights to Realities initiative, and shall design its protocols to ensure that the community respects and provides for the rights delineated in that document.
(c) Once a committee has agreed upon protocols for its catchment area, the secretary shall direct all agencies and community services to follow the protocols when responding to a child of an incarcerated parent.
The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street