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UPDATE: VOTE POSTPONED! Should It Be Punishable by a Year in Jail to Let Your First-Grader Wait in the Car for 6 Minutes?
March 22, 2017
Hi all — There has been some sort of shift in the Rhode Island legislature, pushing this bill off today’s agenda. I will keep you posted! – L.
RHODE ISLAND: The bill criminalizing parents who let their kids wait in the car a few minutes keeps coming back like a bad penny. (Or bored cop! Or eager busybody!)
In fact, it’s having a hearing again tomorrow — Thursday, Mar. 23. Here’s your chance to let your lawmakers know that parents should be allowed to determine whether or not it makes more sense to drag the kids out of the car on a brief errand. Please recall that anytime a child is waiting in a car for a few minutes you can be assured he or she faced more danger before the interlude. Car accidents — in moving cars — are the #1 way kids die. We don’t criminalize parents who deliberately choose to drive their kids places, because we understand the overwhelmingly safe odds.We just don’t understand the overwhelmingly safe odds of letting kids wait in the car a short while.
This note comes from Randall Rose, an activist in Providence, Rhode Island.
Dear Free-Range Kids:
The bill that criminalizes leaving kids in cars, S72,
is having a hearing Thursday in the Senate Judiciary
Committee at the State House, Room 313. People
can come and sign up to tell the committee what
they think of the bill at this hearing, which starts
at 4:30 or 5 Thursday. This is the second of two
hearings on this bill.
If you can’t make the hearing, Rhode Island residents
can call the committee clerk at 401-222-6625 to say
they’re against this bill. It’s best to give your name
Almost all cases of leaving children in cars are harmless,
and parents sometimes face situations where they
reasonably decide that having the child remain in the
car is safe enough. The S72 bill would make it a crime
in Rhode Island to leave a child under 7 in a car for
over 5 minutes, even if the child was accompanied by
a 13-year-old sibling.Penalties could include a $1000
fine or a 1-year jail sentence, even if the child was
This bill is too judgmental. Current Rhode
Island law already says that police can issue a warning
to parents in this situation, and that’s better than
having fines or criminal penalties for what are almost
certainly harmless parenting choices.
Also, please share the petition against this bill with