Thursday, January 12, 2012


When parents are incarcerated what happens to their children - will their children be sent to foster care in Tampa Bay or will their children be sent to live with relatives who may not want them? Well known and alarming foster care failures in Tampa, Clearwater & Pinellas Florida have endangered the very lives of the children foster care was meant to protect. 
In any case involving prison for parents the Judge should be made fully aware by the Criminal Defense Attorney of what the State of Florida intends to do with the children before sentencing. If the plan is to have the children sent to live with relatives its important to find out if the relatives have the means, passion and integrity to care for the children and depending on the ages of the children to determine if this is in their best interests.
With some finesse the Pinellas Defense Lawyer should become an advocate for the children urging the Court to weigh the damage incarcerating the parents will do to the children against the nature of the crime, the severity of the crime and the prior record of the parents. Clearly, the safety of the children should be the Court's chief concern followed by the need to punish the parents under Florida law, in which case parenting issues during incarceration becomes critical as does this Florida Manual for Incarcerated Parents which contains important legal forms such as a power of attorney.
An excellent article, When a parent is incarcerated: a primer for social workers, helps to explain the many complex problems that can arise when parents are incarcerated, particularly if their children must go into foster care. It should also be helpful for attorneys to use in sentencing mitigation and helping clients cope with the anxiety of being away from their children.
Van Gogh, Portrait of Camille Roulin, 1888
Portrait of Camille Roulin, 1888,