The Sentencing Judge's Role in Safeguarding the Parental Rights of Incarcerated Individuals

By Iskikian, Anna | Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems, Fall 2019 | Go to article overview

The Sentencing Judge's Role in Safeguarding the Parental Rights of Incarcerated Individuals


Iskikian, Anna, Columbia Journal of Law and Social Problems


Incarcerated parents face a disproportionate risk of having their parental rights terminated. According to a recent analysis of three million child-welfare cases nationwide, parents whose children have been placed in foster care due to their incarceration, but who have not been accused of child abuse, endangerment, or drug use, are more likely to lose their parental rights than parents who have physically or sexually assaulted their children. A dramatic rise in the prison population and the passage of the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) have driven the increase in the loss of parental rights among incarcerated parents. Furthermore, sentencing guidelines and mandatory minimums constrain a judge's ability to adequately consider a defendant's parenthood at sentencing.

This Note examines the sentencing judge's role in preventing the termination of parental rights of incarcerated parents and proposes the establishment of a judicial recommendation against termination proceedings while a parent is incarcerated. Part II of this Note examines the history of criminal sentencing and the historical practice of granting a judicial recommendation against deportation (JRAD) to noncitizen defendants. Part III analyzes the disproportionate rate at which incarcerated parents lose their parental rights as compared to nonincarcerated parents. Part IV argues for amending the ASFA to implement the JRAD's analog in the parental rights context and concludes that accounting for loss of parental rights at sentencing serves retributive, deterrent, and rehabilitative aims.

I.Introduction

In 1999, Hurricane Floyd flooded and destroyed Lori Lynn Adams' trailer home in North Carolina.1 Adams, a mother of four living in poverty, was later convicted and sentenced to two yearlong prison terms for filing a fraudulent disaster-relief claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and for passing dozens of bad checks.2 Following the conviction, Adams' four children were consequently placed under county supervision.3

Halfway through her second sentence, Adams received a phone call from her appointed family court attorney; her parental rights were being irrevocably terminated at a proceeding she could not attend due to her incarceration 300 miles away.4 Adams was prohibited from ever seeing her children again, despite never having been charged with child abuse, neglect, or endangerment.5 While acknowledging that she "had to pay the price" for the crimes she committed, Adams characterized the permanent loss of her parental rights as "the most extreme price there is."6

Adams' experience has become increasingly common in recent decades. Since 2006, over 32,000 incarcerated parents who had not been accused of physical or sexual abuse permanently lost their parental rights.7 Approximately 5000 of those parents had their rights terminated solely due to their incarceration status.8 More surprisingly, parents whose children have been placed in foster care due to their incarceration, but who have not been accused of child abuse, endangerment, or drug use, "are more likely to have their parental rights terminated than those who physical1. ly or sexually assault their kids."9 Like Adams, many of these parents are poor and lack access to effective measures to safeguard their rights to their children.10

Changes in child welfare policy and a dramatic rise in the prison population have driven this increase in the loss of parental rights among incarcerated parents.11 For instance, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act (ASFA) in 1997,12 which required federally funded state child-welfare programs to initiate the termination of parental rights when a child has been in foster care for fifteen of the previous twenty-two months.13 While the ASFA was enacted to reduce children's stay in foster care in favor of a permanent home, an unfortunate byproduct has been the disproportionate rate at which incarcerated parents lose their parental rights compared to those not incarcerated. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Sentencing Judge's Role in Safeguarding the Parental Rights of Incarcerated Individuals
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.