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 Delaware Law School
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