Filmmaker and internationally renowned children’s rights advocate Jolie pens letter supporting SB 654’s protections for children, which include requiring judges to consider a parent’s history of violence and substance abuse before allowing unsupervised visitation
SACRAMENTO, CA — Ahead of its hearing in the California Assembly’s Appropriations Committee, Senate Bill (SB) 654, authored by Senator Dave Min (D-Irvine), received a key endorsement from actress Angelina Jolie, who is internationally recognized for her advocacy for the rights of women and children around the world, and who has previously called for the needs, health, and safety of children to be centered in child custody and child protection reforms, including in California. SB 654 would require courts to consider a parent’s history of violence and substance abuse before allowing that parent to have unsupervised visits with his or her children, and to make written findings before placing children into these situations. In a letter to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, Jolie explained that SB 654 is a bill that “provides critically important protections for children’s physical safety, trauma recovery, and psychological wellbeing and that encourages parents to receive needed treatment.”
“I’m so honored that our bill received support from one of the world’s leading voices in children’s rights, Angelina Jolie,” Min said. “SB 654 is at a critical juncture, and we need it to pass to save lives. When a parent has a documented history of violence and substance abuse, allowing unsupervised visits with his or her children without ensuring the children’s safety is irresponsible. I thank Ms. Jolie for endorsing this legislation and for her history of advocacy internationally and domestically, and I am optimistic that with her support, along with the many other individuals and groups who are backing this bill, we will be successful in getting it passed into law.”
In her letter of support to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, Jolie stated, “Whether parenting time is labeled ‘custody’ or ‘visitation,’ children’s health, safety, and welfare are of paramount concern under the law, and SB 654 carries out a court’s obligation to ensure children are safe under custody and unsupervised visitation orders.” Jolie has advocated for children’s rights globally through her work with the United Nations Refugee Agency for two decades and co-founding Kids in Need of Defense (KIND), and as reflected in her new book, Know Your Rights and Claim Them: A Guide for Youth (Amnesty International, 2021).
In addition to protecting children from unsafe visitations, SB 654 would also encourage courts to hold closed chamber hearings when hearing from children in contested custody cases, limiting the emotional trauma that too often results when children are forced to testify in front of their parents in these types of proceedings.
The bill received unanimous support in the Senate and in the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It will be heard in Assembly Appropriations Committee Thursday.
Dave Min represents California State Senate District 37, which is located in Orange County and includes the communities of Anaheim, Costa Mesa, Foothill Ranch, Huntington Beach, Irvine, Laguna Beach, Laguna Woods, Lake Forest, Newport Beach, Orange, Tustin, and Villa Park.
Dave was a University of California Irvine law professor and a former economic policy staffer in the United States Senate and for the Center for American Progress. He began his legal career at the Securities and Exchange Commission to protect the retirement security of seniors, turning down high paying jobs to serve the public interest. Dave and his wife Jane live and work in Irvine, where they are raising their three young children.