A New Way of Life Co-Sponsored AB 2159 and SB 1085 Signed into Law by Governor Newsom
Los Angeles (September 30, 2022) – A New Way of Life is pleased to announce that AB 2159 (Reunification services) and SB 1085 (Juveniles: dependency: jurisdiction of the juvenile court) have been signed into law by California Governor Newsom. These two laws improve the ability for incarcerated parents and their children to remain together, and will help to prevent unnecessary and traumatic family separation.
AB 2159 prohibits dependency court from denying parents the opportunity to participate in family reunification services during pre-trial incarceration. Prior the passage of AB 2159, Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) section 361.5(e) enabled the courts to deny incarcerated parents the right to chance to reunify with their children, even if they had not been convicted of a crime, and disproportionately affected families of color and low-income Californians. “AB 2159 successfully amends Welfare and Institutions Code section 361.5(e) to clearly state that parents who are incarcerated pre-trial shall not be bypassed from receiving family reunification services solely for the reason of being incarcerated,” stated Brian Tan, A New Way of Life Staff Attorney. “A New Way of Life is proud to support this statewide change that will affect the rights and abilities of incarcerated parents to reunify with their children,” continued Tan.
SB 1085 amends WIC section 300 to prohibit a child from being separated from their family due solely to conditions of financial difficulty. Prior to the passage of SB 1085, a child could become a dependent of state if there was a substantial risk to the child’s physical wellbeing due to inadequate supervision, food, clothing, shelter, or medical treatment. SB 1085 recognizes that these harms are due to conditions of poverty and conditions of financial difficulty from being considered as a basis for family separation. “Conditions of poverty alone should not be the reason to permanently separate a parent from their child. SB 1085 will help vulnerable families who are at risk of being separated by allowing social workers to make more informed decisions on reporting neglect. It’s time for us to work together to create policies that focus more on supporting families, not separation,” said Stephanie Jeffcoat, All of Us or None Organizer at A New Way of Life.
A New Way of Life worked with California Assembly Member Isaac Bryan and 14 organizations on the passage of AB 2159 and California Senator Sydney Kamlager and 7 organizations on the passage of SB 1085. Stephanie Jeffcoat and Brian Tan were involved in the passage of these bills, and both stated these two laws are another step towards working “together to create policies that focus more on supporting families, not separation.”
About A New Way of Life
A New Way of Life Reentry Project (ANWOL) helps women, families, and communities break the cycle and heal from the formidable experiences of incarceration. ANWOL advances multi-dimensional solutions to the effects of incarceration, including: (1) providing housing and support to formerly incarcerated women for successful community reentry, family reunification, and individual healing; (2) working to restore the civil rights of formerly incarcerated people; and (3) empowering, organizing, and mobilizing formerly incarcerated people as advocates for social change and personal transformation.
A New Way of Life is confronting harmful stereotypes and demonstrating that alternatives to incarceration are possible. ANWOL is breaking the cycle of recidivism, repairing families, and developing leaders. The organization’s approach is built upon four key values that are necessary to promote community reentry after incarceration: (1) every person has inherent value and holds the power of possibility and transformation within them; (2) public resources are better invested in opportunities for transformation than on prisons and punishment; (3) formerly incarcerated people must be at the forefront in creating solutions to the incarceration crisis; and (4) incarceration of a family member affects the entire family and the healing process must involve the entire family. For more information about A New Way of Life Reentry Project, visit: www.anewwayoflife.org.