Friends and advocates of female prisoners in New York State gave thanks this week for the Adoption and Safe Families Act Expanded Discretion Bill, a new state law, reports Women’s eNews. Before this statute, parents of children in foster care had their parental rights automatically rescinded after 15 months of incarceration. The median sentence length for women in New York’s prisons is 36 months.
The law gives foster care agencies the discretion to extend that cutoff if the parent has remained involved with the child and the child’s best interest is served by the parent’s ongoing relationship. It’s part of a push to maintain family relationships in New York, where 83 percent of female inmates are convicted of nonviolent crimes and 73 percent of incarcerated women are mothers of children under 18.