The program is for prisoners who were the primary caretakers of their parents before they entered prison. That seems good to me; you have to start somewhere, and that’s a good population to start with. Hopefully, if the program is successful, it can be extended to other non-violent prisoners.
But here’s the problem: Only female prisoners are able to use the “Alternative Custody Program.”
Spokeswoman Dana Toyama said the bill that made the program possible, SB 1266, was written with women in mind, because they tend to be the primary caregivers.
Toyama said constitutionally CDCR cannot bar men from applying to participate in the program, but she said they do not have the necessary programs currently in place to approve their participation.
“Right now, we are not offering it to them, but they can’t be statutorily excluded. We just don’t have the resources to offer it to male inmates,” Toyama said. She also said they do not have a date set to start extending the program to men.
It should be noted that although an earlier version of SB 1266 was written for mothers, the language was specifically rewritten to include both mothers and fathers (thanks to some praiseworthy lobbying by Fathers and Families, which is run by men’s rights activist Glenn Sacks). As I understand it, the law that was passed was gender-neutral, and included fathers. So what the prison system is doing is ignoring the legislature’s intent.
This is sexism, plain and simple. I don’t doubt that it would cost a little bit more to extend the program to fathers — but keep in mind, every prisoner switched to the “Alternative Custody Program” saves the state money. I strongly suspect that’s what really lacking isn’t resources, but will.
I hope that some imprisoned father sues the California prison system, and soon.
- Unfortunately, the program may not last long, since it only applies to people in prisons, and soon California will start putting low-level offenders in jail instead of prison. [↩]