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