Parenting beyond bars

January 18, 2019

Incarceration does not stop parenting.

It only diminishes the parenting process.

Therefore, the State must facilitate the promotion of continuing family ties between parents serving time behind bars and their children.

And so we agree with and support a humanitarian initiative to ensure regular bonding of families with members in  prison.

Children, especially minors, usually bear the brunt of having jailed parents. Their mental development and social behavior are affected, compounded by discrimination and social stigma as a result of having a parent in prison.

In many instances, without an adult who could take over  taking care of their welfare, these children who are separated from their parents are likely to end up being incarcerated themselves.

In view of this, Sen. Nancy Binay is pushing for the passage of Senate Bill 1886, or "An Act Creating Programs for Incarcerated Parents and their Children."

"The proposed bill aims to establish mechanisms which shall assist imprisoned solo parents in the performance of their parental and child-rearing obligations," Binay said.

The lady lawmaker stressed that the government should "promote stable and solid relationships between children and parents, who are their primary care-givers, and support incarcerated parents to develop and maintain their relationship with their children."

Under the measure, Binay said the court should apprise incarcerated parents of their parental rights and the consequences concerning to such rights that may result from a plea of guilty or conviction, "especially the loss of parental authority."

"In the event that the accused has minor children, the court shall motu propio direct a social worker or a representative of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) to confer with the accused to discuss various options available to the latter, in relation to the care and custody of his or her minor children," the bill stated.

In case the accused is unable to place his or her minor children under the care of a "responsible adult," the minor children will be placed under the care of: surviving grandparent; fit or qualified oldest brother or sister over 21 years old; any relative of the accused over 21 years of age and within the fourth civil degree of consanguinity or affinity of the minor children; or, the DSWD.