Statement on behalf of the

American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital

by

Monica Hopkins-Maxwell

Executive Director

Before the

Committee on Education 

of the

Council of the District of Columbia

 

 Bill 21-319, “Assessment on Children of Incarcerated Parents Act of 2015”

 

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on Bill 21-319, “Assessment on Children of Incarcerated Parents Act of 2015”.  My name is Monica Hopkins-Maxwell and I am Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital (ACLU-DC). I am here today on behalf of our more than 3,000 members across all eight wards in the District of Columbia.

The ACLU-DC supports the intent of Bill 21-319 and commends your leadership on the critical need to assess children in District of Columbia Public Schools and Public Charter Schools whose parents are incarcerated, evaluate the impact of parental incarceration on children in school, and to recommend policies that meet the needs of children who are struggling academically while a parent is incarcerated. 

I.                   Overview

In 2010, the ACLU launched its national campaign against over incarceration.  The campaign aims to end America’s reliance on incarceration as the first response to social problems.  The ACLU supports data collection to enhance government accountability and transparency.  Collecting data on the condition of children with an incarcerated parent can help the District direct its resources towards smart effective solutions to public safety and public health challenges.

 II.                Recommendations

Bill 21-319 does not delineate the scope of the assessment.  This may be the last public opportunity for stakeholders and criminal justice experts to offer recommendations about the proper scope, methodology and delivery of the assessment. We should consider asking questions such the criteria used to select private agency conducting the assessment, how children with incarcerated parents will be identified, how the data will be retained, who will have access to the data, and exactly what type of data will be collected.  Moreover, Bill-319 does not establish an obligation for the Council or the Mayor to act on the recommendations made by the private agency.

III.             Conclusion

ACLU-DC fully supports the intent of Bill 21-0319 and believes there is a critical need to assess children in District of Columbia Public Schools and Public Charter Schools whose parents are incarcerated, evaluate the impact of parental incarceration on children in school, and to recommend policies that meet the needs of children who are struggling academically while a parent is incarcerated. As you move forward in the legislative process, we would be happy to discuss our aforementioned recommendations further.

Bill number

21-319

Position

Support

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