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Child Protection Laws and Criminal Convictions

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Volume: 17 Issue: 1 Dated: Spring 2002 Pages: 4-10
Mark Hardin
Date Published
7 pages
This article is a discussion of the the effects of the 1996 amendment to the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and the enactment of the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA) on parental rights and adoption rights and the impact of these laws on practice decisions for prosecutors, defense attorneys, and child welfare attorneys.
The author presents the effects of the enactment of the 1996 amendment to the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) and also the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997 (ASFA). The CAPTA makes conviction of a certain enumerated felonies as grounds for the termination of parental rights and removes State responsibility to seek family reunification of children removed from homes incident to a parental conviction of a CAPTA enumerated offense. The ASFA provides Federal matching funds for State foster care in exchange for a participating State's compliance with certain standards including the removal of children from homes with a parent with a CAPTA enumerated offense conviction, the relaxation of family re-unification policies, and the adoption of standards for barring foster parent and adoption participation for individuals convicted of a child abuse or neglect offense. The rise and function of central abuser registries is discussed. The article closes with practice recommendations and implications for attorneys involved in child abuse and neglect cases including advice that defense counsel in such cases should check child protection laws and the effects of collateral proceedings and that prosecutors and child protection agency attorneys should coordinate efforts when plea bargains are considered.