Arizona Supreme Court rules welfare officials must offer reunification services to prisoners

By Vaughan Jones
Published: Saturday, October 9, 2021 - 1:06pm
Updated: Saturday, October 9, 2021 - 1:09pm
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The Arizona Supreme Court ruled recently that state child-welfare officials have a constitutional duty to offer reunification services, such as visitation between parent and child, to prisoners serving long sentences.

Justices considered the reunification issue as part of a father’s appeal of a court’s termination of his parental rights. 

Arizona has had no previous law requiring reunification services.

Friday’s ruling was based on a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision that parents have a “fundamental liberty interest” in the care, custody and management of their children.

Friday’s decision says it is difficult to maintain parental bonds while separated, but an incarcerated parent can maintain a relationship with a child in other ways, such as visits, phone calls, and letters.

Arizona Prisons