Sunday, May 29, 2022
"The Real War on Families – An Examination on American Child Welfare Law in the Shadow of Drug Prohibition"
As mentioned in a number of prior posts, the end of a busy semester becoming the start of summer means I am able to catch up on posting a lot of recently produced papers that are part of the on-going series of student papers supported by the Drug Enforcement and Policy Center. The title of this post is the title of this paper authored by Karen Augenstein, a recent graduate of The Ohio State University Moritz College of Law. Here is its abstract:
American law emphasizes the value of family whether that be through tax deductions on children or mandating child support. However, when it comes to the War on Drugs, the importance of family seems to have been forgotten in favor of punishing those with substance abuse issues in the worst way possible: taking away their children. Whether the intention of lawmakers or not, those who suffered the most tended to be minority and poor parents, the ones who struggled to have their voices heard. Even today, America continues to punish victims of abuse by removing their children and imposing harsh, impossible requirements for reunification.
This paper is divided into three sections. The first section examines the basis for child welfare in America, focusing primarily on three pieces of child welfare legislation that incorporated parental drug use into its mandates: Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act of 1974, Adoption Assistance and Child Welfare Act of 1980, and the Adoption and Safe Families act of 1997. The second section breaks down two areas of child welfare law: infants born testing positive for drugs and the explosion of the foster care system, and examine how drug laws, coupled with punitive, discriminatory action, broke apart families. Finally, the third section recommends changes the American child welfare system could make in its approach to drug addicted parents, in an effort to reunify, rather than punish, parents who suffer from substance abuse issues.