Golden Gate University Law Review


Heidi Rosenberg


This comment will provide statistical information regarding the increase in the number of mothers incarcerated in the United States. Part II will then use California as an example, providing statistical information and a detailed account of the judicial proceedings that an incarcerated mother must adhere to in order to reunite with her children. It will then provide a case example, using In re Precious J. v. Contra Costa County Department of Social Services, which demonstrates how the proceedings actually work.18 In re Precious is a 1996 California case that chronicles the difficulties imposed on a mother and child when a mother is incarcerated, including the problems associated with reunification and visitation. The case also illustrates prevalent loopholes that exist in the California justice system. Part III of this comment will discuss recommendations proposed in response to the nationwide increase in the number of incarcerated mothers. It will include a study conducted in 1992 by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency ("NCCD"), entitled "Why Punish the Children." This study describes the alarming national increase in the incarceration of mothers. It also provides policy recommendations to states to help incarcerated mothers and their children reunite. Part III will then describe California's response to the growing number of incarcerated mothers. It will compare programs implemented in California to the proposed recommendations, and will discern whether California has responded adequately to the needs of incarcerated mothers, their children, and their families. Finally, Part IV will propose changes that California policymakers should consider in order to serve the best interests of incarcerated mothers, their children and society.