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The FAMILIES Act: what it is, and what it means

Children suffer tremendously when a parent is incarcerated, and separation can result in lasting trauma.

As a mom and a policymaker, I focus on the well-being of children. Helping children thrive is the right thing to do, and it's also sound public policy that produces better results for kids and lower costs in the long term. Oregon is a leader in this area, and we can bring the lessons we've learned to the rest of the country.

I've joined some of my colleagues in developing a national solution modeled on what's working here in Oregon: The Finding Alternatives to Mass Incarceration: Lives Improved by Ending Separation Act, or FAMILIES Act.

Our bill will provide a better way to serve justice. It creates sentencing alternatives for non-violent, custodial parents to keep families together when possible. In Oregon, the Family Sentencing Alternative Pilot Program has helped more than 200 primary caregivers stay with their children, serve their time in probation, and access treatment when necessary.

We've proven here in Oregon that this approach works. Children have avoided going into foster care, and parents who participate are less likely to reoffend.

Part of my job is bringing good ideas from Oregon to the rest of the country. And part of my job is bringing my mom skills to Congress. I'll work with my Oregon colleagues to bring the FAMILIES Act to the forefront. It's good for kids, and good for all of us.

Suzanne Bonamici

Posted on August 12, 2021.

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Meet Suzanne

Suzanne knows what it’s like to struggle to make ends meet. She worked her way through community college, university, and law school. She started her career at Legal Aid and worked as a consumer rights attorney. Throughout her career she’s been a leading advocate for public education, protecting the environment, and civil rights. She’s fighting for a better future for all Oregonians.

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