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Study: Black And Latino Prisoners Lose Parental Rights At Higher Rates In Connecticut

Prison cells
Courtesy of Pixabay

People who are incarcerated have their parental rights terminated at a disproportionately high rate in Connecticut. The rate is much higher among Black and Latino parents, which leads to more children of color placed in adoption.

Those are the findings of a report released Friday by the nonprofit Connecticut Voices for Children and law students at Yale’s criminal justice clinic.

Yale Professor Miriam Gohara led the study. She said the main problem is the state may consider a parent in neglect of their child because of a prison sentence longer than 15 months. That leads to termination of parental rights, or TPR.

“After conversations with the incredibly important community partners and impacted individuals that we spoke with, it became clear that TPR is an area that not only has a drastic impact, but also is ripe for reform. And that because of the discretion, the state can immediately make changes,” Gohara said.

Gohara said the pandemic has made it even more difficult for parents behind bars to visit or keep in touch with their children. She said the state can take immediate action to pause the timeline for contact.

The state’s child welfare agency and members of the Legislature’s committee on children did not immediately comment.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.