Incarcerated Parents Could Gain More Flexibility, Involvement In Child's Life

Feb 5, 2019

Proposed legislation would allow some incarcerated parents to better maintain involvement in their child’s life.

Indiana has one of the highest rates of incarcerated parents. The emotional and physical health impact on children whose parents are in prison can be lasting. Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Indianapolis) authored the legislation.

“It allows the court to consider whether the parent continues to play a meaningful role in the child’s life,” Macer says.

The bill would allow parents to appear in court to discuss the case involving their child. It would also give judges more flexibility to determine if termination of parental rights, after a certain period of time, is warranted or not.

A federal rule requires states file for termination of parental rights if a child has been in foster care for 15 of 22 consecutive months – but there are exceptions.

Kristine Bunch testified in support of the bill. Bunch was exonerated after she spent 17 years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. She says the contact she was able to have with her child was important.

“It meant something to him,” says Bunch. “It meant so much to me and I know these kids would be so much better off knowing their parents.”

The bill passed a committee on Tuesday and now heads to the full House.