Do No Harm: An Analysis of the Legal and Social Consequences of Child Visitation Determinations for Incarcerated Perpetrators of Extreme Acts of Violence Against Women
Dana Harrington Conner
Widener University - Widener University School of Law
January 29, 2009
Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, Vol. 17, 2008
Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 09-03
Despite the attention prison visitation has received in general, little consideration is given to the nature of the crime for which a parent is incarcerated, intimate partner violence in particular, and how such crimes affect bonding and ultimately prison visitation determinations.
Although research suggests prison visitation can be advantageous to parent-child bonding essential to the healthy development of children, it appears that the nature of the bond is a significant factor to consider when assessing the appropriateness of continued contact. This matter is further complicated by the trauma associated with childhood exposure to extreme acts of violence against a parent and how that exposure shapes bonding.
This article suggests that courts have a unique opportunity to stop the intergenerational transmission of violence in extreme cases through proper assessment and limitations on visitation. Denying visitation to incarcerated batterers, however, is a quick fix to a problem which will eventually resurface once the parent is released from incarceration. Thus, the writer argues that courts have a responsibility to be creative in fashioning relief that takes into account the needs of children suffering from trauma and the treatment of batterers.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 82
Keywords: Women, Domestic Violence, Intimate Partner Violence, Abuse, Batterer, Visitation, Prison Visitation, children
JEL Classification: k39
Date posted: February 2, 2009 ; Last revised: March 17, 2009
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