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Mass Incarceration. The U.S. has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners. 2.7 million U.S. children have an incarcerated parent. 2.3 million people are now incarcerated, up from 500,000 in 1980.
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Reunification services in light of 750 ILCS 50/1 D (m)
Lack of services in prisons and jails
Only 2% of Illinois correctional budget is devoted to programs.
Substance abuse treatment
Cook County Jail services Cook County Jail Division 17: 15% of the women and provides some parenting classes, group counseling on trauma, but no substance abuse treatment per se.
Cook County Jail is the largest mental health care provider, due to lack of services in the community.
Parenting classes in jails and prisons are not DCFS certified, except for one class at Logan.
Distance: 50% of incarcerated parents in state prisons are imprisoned between 100 and 500 miles from home, and 11% are incarcerated more than 500 miles away. For federal prisoners, 43% are incarcerated more than 500 miles from home (Bureau of Justice Statistics).Implications for case workers and permanency planning.
Prison visits and best interest; educating judges
Cook County Jail “Bright Spaces” program in Div. 17
Barrier visits for all other parents in pretrial detention
Judges and “best interest”
Increase in “no contact” orders
~ Closure of City of Chicago mental health clinics.
~ “Through changes in health care financing brought about by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), there are unprecedented opportunities to treat the chronic illnesses often underlying repeated justice involvement and recidivism.” (TASC)
To download the report: http://www2.centerforhealthandjustice.org/content/pub/anticipating-impact-health-care-reform-criminal-justice-system
~ Addition to 750 ILCS 50/1 D (m) to be introduced this term:
It shall be an affirmative defense to an unfitness finding under this subsection (m) that services under the service plan were not offered and available to the parent during the 9-month period.
Families of incarcerated parents
Department of Human Services and the Illinois Department of Corrections shall work cooperatively with community organizations and service providers to
~ identify local service providers
~ develop informational materials for families and children of incarcerated parents, on visitation programs, family counseling, mentoring, school-based programs, and others.
~ develop materials to reduce stigma and provide support for children of prisoners
~ provide telephone and Internet contacts for the children's caregivers and assist them in locating and accessing services for the children.
~ provide materials to inmates at orientation in a sealed envelope to be mailed to caregivers and make materials available in facility visiting rooms and waiting areas.
Increase in private adoption petitions filed against incarcerated parents
Right to counsel under In re ADOPTION OF L.T.M., 824 N.E.2d 221, 214 Ill.2d 60, 291 Ill. Dec. 645 (2005)
~ Incarcerated father appeals step-parent adoption; appointed counsel on appeal is denied payment.
~ Enactment of the state statute is sufficient state action for the purposes of an equal protection claim.
~ Parent facing TPR brought by private parties under the Adoption Act is similarly situated to parents facing TPR under the Juvenile Court Act.
~ Controlling state expenditures on appointed counsel is not a compelling state interest.
~ “Accordingly, we hold the state is required by the equal protection clause of the fourteenth amendment to provide appointed counsel to indigent parents who face the loss of parental rights in proceedings under the Adoption Act.”
“Pregnancy Options” classes in Cook County Jail women’s divisions
~ Extends the period for reunification during immigration detention or deportation for up to two years, if the parent has made reasonable efforts or if termination of parental rights is not in the child’s best interest; provides exceptions if the parent is charged with certain crimes and court discretion if the child or a member of the sibling group is under age three.
~ Allows children to be placed with relatives regardless of the relatives’ immigration status
~ Requires child welfare agency to give guidance to counties and to establish MOUs with foreign consulates as to how to contact a detained parent, how to assess the child’s status, how to assist with parent-child reunification after a parent is deported, and how to assist children eligible for special immigrant juvenile status.
~ Requires the state to reimburse counties for costs
See handout Children of Undocumented Immigrants and California’s Reuniting Immigrant Families Act.
~ Illinois exploring possible legislation.
Exceptions to the 15-month ASFA timeframes:
California Welfare and Institutions Code Section 16508.1 (b)(6)
The social worker is not required to submit the recommendation to set a TPR hearing if . . . :
The incarceration or institutionalization of the parent or parents, or the court-ordered participation of the parent or parents in a residential substance abuse treatment program, constitutes a significant factor in the child's placement in foster care for a period of 15 of the most recent 22 months, and termination of parental rights is not in the child's best interests, considering factors such as the age of the child, the degree of parent and child bonding, the length of the sentence, and the nature of the treatment and the nature of the crime or illness.
NY June 2010 §384-b(3)(l)(i)
~ Allows foster care agencies to refrain from filing for TPR if a parent is in prison or a residential drug treatment program or if a parent’s prior incarceration or program participation is a significant factor in why the child has been in foster care for 15 of the last 22 months.
~ Foster care agencies are required to inform parents in prison and residential drug treatment of their rights and responsibilities and to provide referrals to social services and family visiting programs.
NY State Office of Children and Family Services information “You don’t have to stop being a parent while you are incarcerated” (two handouts)
Local and national efforts
Gail T. Smith
70 E. Lake Street, Suite 1120
Chicago, IL 60601
Facebook group: Chicago Legal Advocacy for Incarcerated Mothers