To: The Rhode Island State House, The Rhode Island State Senate, and Governor Gina Raimondo

Don't punish harmless parenting choices

We oppose the Rhode Island bill that penalizes parents for leaving kids in a car (H7071 and S2030). Families face many different situations and people have different parenting styles. The government should not be punishing parents over this.

Why is this important?

Almost all cases of leaving children in cars are harmless, and parents sometimes face situations where they reasonably determine that having the child remain in the car is safe enough. The Rhode Island bill, H7071 and S2030, would make it a crime to leave a child under 7 in a car for over 15 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 unharmed. 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.