Montgomery, Rozic Announce “Proximity Bill” Signed into Law

New law would ensure incarcerated parents are placed in facilities closest to home

Albany, NY State Senator Velmanette Montgomery (D-Brooklyn) and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D,WF-Fresh Meadows) announced today that their legislation (A6710/S724) to ensure that incarcerated parents are placed in facilities closest to the home of their children has been signed into law. There are more than 100,000 children in New York that have at least one parent in state prison with the majority of these individuals housed in facilities that are hours away from their children and families. The bill passed both houses of the State Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support earlier this year.

“I am so happy to see the Proximity Bill (April’s Law) signed by the Governor. Children should not be deprived of the opportunity to have a relationship with their parents because of incarceration. This law will support vulnerable families by placing incarcerated parents at facilities closest to their children,” said State Senator Montgomery. “I thank my colleagues, the advocates and especially Alonicha (April) Triana who shared with me how deeply affected she was by her mother’s incarceration and proposed this legislation.”

“The signing of the Proximity Bill is a step forward in making visiting more convenient and affordable for families experiencing the strain of separation along with their loved ones who are incarcerated. This new law will go a long way in not only maintaining family bonds but also improving successful reentry and family reunification all while reducing recidivism in New York,” said Assemblywoman Rozic. “I thank Senator Montgomery for her partnership, advocacy organizations for their dedicated support, and Governor Cuomo for making this a reality for the thousands of families impacted by incarceration.”

The Proximity Bill would require the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision to place parents who are incarcerated in correctional facilities in close proximity to their children and in turn encourage visitation. Consistent, ongoing contact in the form of in-person visits is a critical factor in determining whether a family will reunite after incarceration. Research also demonstrates visits decrease disciplinary infractions and lower recidivism rates.

Of incarcerated people, those who receive no visitors have a 50 percent chance of making it a year on parole without an arrest. That number climbs to 70 percent for those with at least three visits. Additionally, 63 percent of people in state prison are placed in facilities more than 100 miles from their families and distance from home is a strong predictor for whether a person in a state prison will receive a visit in a given month.

“The Osborne Association applauds the passage and signing of this bill that recognizes the love between children and their parents despite incarceration,” said Osborne Association President and CEO Elizabeth Gaynes. “Today, NY State removes a significant barrier to family connection and wellbeing, affirming the importance of maintaining the parent-child relationship during a period of incarceration. We thank Governor Cuomo for signing this law and Senator Montgomery and Assemblymember Rozic for their leadership and look forward to working with DOCCS to implement this important law.”

“The Correctional Association of New York (CANY) applauds Governor Cuomo for demonstrating his continued commitment to criminal justice reform by signing the Proximity Bill into law,” said Jennifer Scaife, Executive Director, Correctional Association of New York. “This law represents an important step toward strengthening family ties for those incarcerated and their loved ones, as well as providing some economic relief by reducing travel expenses to and from correctional facilities. CANY also recognizes and thanks Assemblymember Rozic, Senator Montgomery, and all of the families and advocates who worked tirelessly to turn this bill into law.”

“By signing the Proximity Bill, Governor Cuomo has put into practice his beliefs about the importance of family on behalf of thousands of incarcerated people and their families, who especially need each other’s support during such difficult times,” said Ava Zukowsky, spokesperson for Woman 2 Woman, Bedford Presbyterian Church Prison Volunteer Program.