DC Council Bill 20-122, the Video Visit Modification Act, restores the option of in-person visits for children and their incarcerated parents. In written testimony, Children’s Law Center details the effects of parental incarceration on children and the importance of visitation. Read a summary below or review the full testimony.
A parent or adult family member’s imprisonment can cause significant trauma to a child – trauma with long-lasting effects. Regular visitation plays an important role in easing the trauma and in-person visitation is often the best way to ensure that a child maintains healthy relationships with the important adults in his or her life. Restoring the option of in-person visitation will benefit many of the District’s children, who unfortunately, are coping with the loss of a parent or family member to the criminal justice system.
Among many benefits, visitation allows children to maintain existing relationships, helps them to cope with separation and loss, calms anxiety by assuring them that their incarcerated family member is safe, and allows a child and his or her parent to prepare for reunification. Additionally, regular visitation has been shown to lessen the likelihood of parental recidivism, which in turn saves the child from future disruptions. However, research says that in-person visitation, particularly contact visitation, is more beneficial to children than videoconferencing or other forms. Corrections agencies across the country have increased direct, in-person interaction between children and adults.