Today's Law As Amended


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AB-990 Prisons: inmate visitation.(2021-2022)



As Amends the Law Today


SECTION 1.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:
(1) The United States Supreme Court has recognized a constitutional right to maintain parent-child relationships absent a compelling government interest, such as protecting a child from an “unfit” parent (Santosky v. Kramer (1982) 455 U.S. 745, 753). The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has recognized that this constitutional right logically encompasses a right to maintain a relationship with a life partner. (United States v. Wolf Child (2012) 699 F.3d 1082, 1091).
(2) In 2009, the Legislature passed Senate Concurrent Resolution No. 20 (Resolution Chapter 88 of the Statutes of 2009), which encouraged the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation to use the bill of rights created by the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership as a framework for analysis and determination of procedures when making decisions about services for the children of incarcerated parents.
(3) The bill of rights created by the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership includes all of the following:
(A) The child has the right to speak with, see, and touch their parent. Actions to realize this right include, but are not limited to, providing access to visiting rooms that are child-centered, nonintimidating, and conducive to bonding, considering proximity to family when siting prisons and assigning incarcerated persons, and encouraging child welfare departments to facilitate contact.
(B) The child has the right to support as that child faces a parent’s incarceration. Actions to realize this right include, but are not limited to, training adults who work with young people to recognize the needs and concerns of children whose parents are incarcerated, providing access to specially trained therapists, counselors, and mentors, and allocating 5 percent of the corrections-related budget to support the families of incarcerated persons.
(C) The child has a right to a lifelong relationship with their parent. Actions to realize this right include, but are not limited to, reexamining the federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, designating a family services coordinator at prisons and jails, supporting incarcerated parents on reentry, and focusing on rehabilitation and alternatives to incarceration.
(4) The principles announced in the bill of rights created by the San Francisco Children of Incarcerated Parents Partnership additionally apply to close family members and loved ones of incarcerated people, including individuals who are not traditionally defined as family members.
(5) The United Nations has established minimum standards for the treatment of incarcerated people that require regular communication with family and friends by visits, telephone, electronic or digital communications, and mail. Moreover, “disciplinary sanctions or restrictive measures shall not include the prohibition of family contact.”
(6) The American Bar Association has established minimum standards for incarcerated people that require sufficient visiting space, convenient visiting times, family-friendly environments, and no unreasonable exclusions of visitors based on criminal convictions.
(7) Research confirms that incarceration imposes heavy burdens on the families of incarcerated people, including trauma for the children of incarcerated parents, as recognized on the adverse childhood experience index, in addition to the high costs of maintaining contact by telephone and visits. Consistent visits also have the potential for reducing the likelihood of intergenerational criminality.
(8) Isolation from lack of visits and limited phone communications adversely affect the mental health of incarcerated people, and that isolation contributes to mental suffering and conflict within prisons. Research shows that visits and family programming reduce disciplinary infractions, increase the chances of successful parole, and decrease recidivism rates upon release and reentry into the community. Forty to 80 percent of incarcerated people rely on their families immediately after release to overcome reentry obstacles, including unemployment, debt, and homelessness.
(9) The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated these burdens for families and adverse effects of isolation for incarcerated persons. Since March 2020, in-person visits have been canceled, and this policy exists as of January 2021. Only limited free phone calls have been provided. Since December 2020, limited video calling has become available.
(b) Therefore, it is the intent of the Legislature to strengthen visiting rights to support the emotional health of Californians and their incarcerated loved ones, to improve in-custody conduct, and to reduce recidivism.

SEC. 2.

 Section 2600 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

2600.
 (a) A person sentenced to imprisonment in a state prison or to imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 may during that period of confinement be deprived of such rights, and only such rights, as is reasonably related to legitimate penological interests. rights if the deprivation of those rights is necessary and narrowly tailored to further the legitimate security interests of the government. 
(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed to  This section does not  overturn the decision in Thor v. Superior Court, 5 Cal. 4th 725.

SEC. 3.

 Section 2601 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

2601.
 Subject only to the provisions of that section, each  Each  person described in Section 2600 shall have all of  the following civil rights: rights set forth under subdivisions (a) to (i), inclusive. These rights may not be infringed upon, except as necessary and only if narrowly tailored to further the legitimate security interests of the government. Any governmental action related to these rights may be reviewed in court for legal error and under a substantial evidence standard of review. 
(a) Except as provided in Section 2225 of the Civil Code, to inherit, own, sell, or convey real or personal property, including all written and artistic material produced or created by the person during the period of imprisonment. However, to the extent authorized in Section 2600, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation  may restrict or prohibit sales or conveyances that are made for business purposes.
(b) To correspond, confidentially, with any member of the State Bar of California  or holder of public office, provided that the prison authorities may open and inspect incoming mail to search for contraband.
(c) (1) To purchase, receive, and read any and all newspapers, periodicals, and books accepted for distribution by the United States Post Office. Pursuant to this section, prison authorities may exclude any of the following matter:
(A) Obscene publications or writings, and mail containing information concerning where, how, or from whom this matter may be obtained.
(B) Any matter of a character tending to incite murder, arson, riot, violent racism, or any other form of violence.
(C) Any matter concerning gambling or a lottery.
(2) Nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting  This section does not limit  the right of prison authorities to do either of  the following:
(A) Open and inspect any and all packages received by an inmate.
(B) Establish reasonable restrictions as to  on  the number of newspapers, magazines, and books that the inmate may have in his or her  their  cell or elsewhere in the prison at one time.
(d) To initiate civil actions, subject to a three dollar ($3) filing fee to be collected by the Department of Corrections,  Corrections and Rehabilitation,  in addition to any other filing fee authorized by law, and subject to Title 3a (commencing with Section 391) of the Code of Civil Procedure.
(e) To marry.
(f) To create a power of appointment.
(g) To make a will.
(h) To receive all benefits provided for in Sections 3370 and 3371 of the Labor Code and in Section 5069.
(i) To receive personal visits. This section shall not require in-person visits for people incarcerated pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 in counties that are not required to provide those visits pursuant to Section 15820.948 of the Government Code or Section 4032 of the Penal Code.

SEC. 4.

 Section 6400 of the Penal Code is amended to read:

6400.
 Any amendments  Amendments  to existing regulations and any future regulations adopted by the Department of Corrections which  and Rehabilitation that  may impact the visitation of inmates shall do all of the following:
(a) Recognize and consider the right to personal visits as a civil right pursuant to subdivision (i) of Section 2601.
(a) (b)  Recognize and consider the value of visiting as a means to improve the safety of prisons for both staff and inmates.
(b) (c)  Recognize and consider the important role of inmate visitation in establishing and maintaining a meaningful connection with family and community.
(c) (d)  Recognize and consider the important role of inmate visitation in preparing an inmate for successful release and rehabilitation.

SEC. 5.

 Section 6401 is added to the Penal Code, to read:

6401.
 (a) An in-person contact visit, including a family visit, shall not be denied by the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation for any of the following reasons:
(1) As a disciplinary sanction against the incarcerated person that is not based on any violation of a law or regulation by the incarcerated person that occurred during the incarcerated person’s visit with the affected visitor.
(2) Due to an omission or inaccuracy on the visitor application if the omitted or correct information is provided on the visitor’s criminal history report, that the department consults to assess applications.
(3) Because of a visitor’s criminal, juvenile delinquency, or other history of involvement with law enforcement, whether or not it resulted in a criminal conviction, other than a conviction for an offense listed in subdivision (b), a visitor’s current status of being under parole, postrelease community supervision, probation, or informal probation supervision, or a visitor’s previous incarceration, including incarceration in the facility where the visit will take place.
(4) Due to the nature of the incarcerated person’s criminal, juvenile delinquency, or other history of involvement with law enforcement, regardless of whether it resulted in a criminal conviction, other than a conviction for an offense set forth under subdivision (b), except when required by Section 1202.05.
(b) A visitor or incarcerated person may be denied visits for up to one year after the commission of one of the following offenses:
(1) Bringing contraband into the facility during a visit. For purposes of this subparagraph, contraband excludes any lawful amount of alcohol or other intoxicants for personal use in a vehicle parked on facility grounds.
(2) (A) Engaging in sexual intercourse, penetration, masturbation, or oral copulation during a visit with a person other than a family visit or engaging in any sexual conduct with a child during a visit.
(B) For purposes of this subparagraph, “masturbation” means skin-to-skin contact with genitalia.
(3) Committing violence during a visit or the visiting screening process.
(4) Attempting, or aiding in, an escape during a visit.
(c) The department shall inform an applicant of the specific reason for any denial of a visit.
(d) An incarcerated person shall not be required to withhold consent to a visit as a disciplinary sanction, as a means of avoiding a disciplinary sanction, or as a condition of participating in programming or enjoying any privilege while incarcerated.
(e) To the extent that visiting rules and standards, as prescribed in Title 15 of the California Code of Regulations, conflict with this section, the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation shall adopt regulations that conform with this section.