Lifeline for youth in lock up

Had AB 1300 been law two years ago, perhaps Renee Nunez would still have her brother. According to Nunez, who lobbied hard for the bill, Joseph Maldonado was just 18 when he was transferred from the California Youth Authority prison in Ione to one in Stockton. She couldn’t get on the visitation list; his hall was on lockdown for two months. On September 1, 2005, after two months of missed contact, her brother hanged himself.

Authored by Assemblyman Curren Price Jr., D-Inglewood, the bill is designed to put a halt to the practice of denying incarcerated youths access to phone calls, letters and visitation with family members. Among other things, beginning January 1, 2008, the law will: establish a minimum of four calls to family per month; prohibit guards from denying family phone calls as a disciplinary measure; and require that proximity to family be considered in the placement of young people in the CYA system.

“If I had been able to see him, I don’t think he would have died,” Nunez told SN&R recently. “I hope families take advantage of this bill because it will make such a difference.”