Friday, September 19, 2008

"Travis judge tells woman to stop having kids"

Via the Sentencing Law and Policy Blog:

The title of this post is the title of this alternative sentencing story out of Texas.  Here are some of the basic details:

A judge in Travis County has ordered a woman to stop having children as a condition of her probation in her case of injury to a child by omission, an extraordinary measure that legal experts say could be unconstitutional.

The order was for Felicia Salazar, 20, who admitted to failing to provide protection and medical care to her then-19-month-old daughter last year.  The girl suffered broken bones and other injuries when she was beaten by her father, Roberto Alvarado, 25, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison.  Alvarado and Salazar relinquished their parental rights, and the child, who has recovered, was placed in foster care.

On Sept. 5, state District Judge Charlie Baird sentenced Salazar, who had no criminal history, to 10 years of probation after she reached a plea bargain with prosecutors.  In Texas, judges set conditions of probation. In addition to requiring Salazar to perform 100 hours of community service and to undergo a mental health assessment and setting other typical conditions, Baird told Salazar not to have any more children....

The article goes on to nicely review the constitutional questions that this condition of probation presents, with the help of a few law professors....

(H/T: Amy Leipziger)

This issue is not new.  Trial judges have continued to impose restrictions on procreation as conditions of sentencing or probation, despite the Supreme Court's 1942 decision in Skinner v. Oklahoma.  For more on the issue, see this factsheet from National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

In the Courts, Pregnancy & Childbirth | Permalink

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