The average prison sentence for a woman in New York is 36 months. Prior to June’s passing of the Adoption and Safe Families Act Expanded Discretion Bill a mother or father automatically lost their parental rights after 15 months of continuous incarceration. Now, that isn’t necessarily the case.
Now, however, with the passing of the bill, foster care agencies have some amount of discretion in the matter. They can decide if a loss of parental rights would be beneficial for all parties or not. Considering the vast amount of prison sentences are doled out for nonviolent acts, it’s assumed the agencies will be giving many parents the benefit of the doubt rather than sending their children into homes of unknown people and uncertain futures.
This report from WeNews states 83% of female inmates in N.Y. are convicted of non violent crimes and 73% are mothers of minor children. This amount to thousands of children within the foster care system.
Numerous agencies have pushed for the bill to be passed as incarceration isn’t an automatic sign of a bad parent. Often children within the system are doomed to a far more questionable future when they are left to foster care than if they are returned to the custody of their parents following incarceration.
While protecting the children is a noble cause and one that should be at the forefront of any justice system, the system must recognize just how crucial a healthy parent-child relationship is and not sell kids short on their biological family relationships.
Committing a crime or serving prison time doesn’t make someone a bad person. On the contrary, many people make mistakes in life and end up doing time as punishment. Even if they were having problems with parenting, they can come out of prison a changed person.
Particularly when someone is convicted of a drug offense, the penalties that go with such a conviction can be just what’s needed to wake that person up and help them get their life on track.
However, when facing drug charges, a criminal defense attorney should do everything possible to help you avoid incarceration altogether. If this is your first criminal offense and the charge is a nonviolent one, there’s a good chance you could serve probation instead of time.
If you’re facing charges and worried about what that might mean for your future and the future of your children, contact us for a free consultation today.