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While the term felony has evolved in its meaning, and according to various state laws there has been a mutual agreement with regards to its definition. It has been agreed conventionally that felony is a crime that is serious enough to be punishable by death or a jail for term not less than a year in a state or federal prison. It may, however, be less than a year depending on the discretion of the sitting judge and within the limits set by the statutes of a given country’s constitution. Some examples of felony crimes may include; terrorism, rape, arson, treason, kidnapping, burglary, murder and generally crimes that offend predominant morals. While the consequences that attract various felonies varies, a felony crime may be directed to any person or a group of persons, ranging from total strangers to the inner circle of ones family.
Though the laws of many countries are ambiguous on what are parental rights/responsibilities, there exist some general responsibilities that one must fulfill as a parent. This rights include:Custody; providing a home for the child, protecting and providing for the child, educating and making choices for him/her, Paternity/ Maternity; behavioral discipline for the child, living with the child, giving the child a name, making decisions on the children’s medical care and religion, responsibility of the child, travelling with the child and appointing a guardian for the child where necessary. Many state laws grant parental rights to biological parents or any other guardians on exceptional cases. This is in case biological parents are either in one way or another incompetent to live with the child or they are dead/ their presence is not known.
Termination of the parental rights is a court order served to all parents that permanently/temporarily severs the legal parent/child relationship when the court finds one/both parents as incompetent to raise the child or one/both have given up these rights, so that an adoption can occur. Parental rights may be terminated on various grounds, committing of a felony being one of them. Other reasons may include loss of sanity, surrendering them for adoption to take place, death of parents’ e.t.c.
Parental rights may be classified into to three major facets and may vary depending on the gender of the parent in question. They are: custodial rights, visitation rights and paternity/maternity.
Scope of Work
In normal circumstances felony conviction(s) does not affect retention of ones children’s custody. Custody arrangements conferred upon by interested parties will remain the same, unless the child’s second parent or guardian applies for change of these arrangements. It is therefore clear that children’s custody will remain the same even after serving incarceration. In case the custodial rights for the child has changed hands, one has the right to file with the relevant courts to recover this custody rights upon his/her release (upon achieving status of an ex-felon). However, if one had committed the felony against ones’ own child, chances are almost none of regaining these rights.
A petition may grant back visitation rights to ones child in case he/she had lost it upon internment. By standard of many state laws, ones status as an ex-felon has minimal chances, if any influence on ones rights to see his/her children, unless the court determines that ones status as an ex-felon or the felon he/she had committed places the children in direct danger.
Once the court has denied the visitation rights, one may apply for the supervised visitations. Supervised visits are available even when the crime committed was domestic violence and the court determines being supervised while with the kid is to his/her best interests.
If the child in question was born before or during confinement, and you suspect he/she may be yours, you have the right to establish the paternity. Establishing paternity procedure includes filling in an application with the court and undergoing a DNA test. However, the precise process of determining paternity depends on particular state laws.
While it is less controversial when it comes to Motherhood for obvious reasons, it may sometimes be important to undergo a DNA tests when maternity is contested for an ex-felon and usual goes through the same procedure of establishing paternity.
Body of Work
In a series of cases beginning in 1976, many US citizens sought to know whether Government was compliant to international human rights for ex-offenders, among them parental rights. In Wilson Vs seiter (1991) the court firmly established the subjective components of the US laws ruling in favor of Prison wardens and other legal administrators. This was widely criticized by human rights activists, among them Mohammedu F Jones of the National Prison Projects, American Civil Liberties Union, who viewed this as incompatible with the universal standards.
In a case at a Kenyan High Court filed by a minor through her friend And CRADLE a NGO in the East Africa, the plaintiff was a legal direction of the child’s custody after being defiled by her father. The father subsequently served a jail term and upon completion of incarceration enrolled for rehabilitation and started a business later on. After the success of this business, the man sought visitation rights by the mutual agreement, but the mother refused. The mother, however, demanded the financial support for the Kid. In delivering his ruling, the high court judge quoted several sections of Kenyan Law and other Laws before concluding that the Man should take up his paternal responsibility, but at the same time be allowed supervised visiting’s to the minor.
In an Appeal case filed before the court of appeal of Kenya, it raised fundamental issues of law on the rights and welfare of the child, and particularly the usefulness of the children Act 2001: Laws of Kenya. In regard to rights of ex-felons in parenting and applicability of international conventions on domestic issues of Kenya, it must be remembered that it was around this time that Kenya allowed its prisoners to vote for the first time during the historic referendum.
The cases presided over by respected judge, Timothy J. Lawliss under the laws of US under the family court act, the judge found no mistakes in awarding custodial rights to an ex-felon.
There may other judicial cases that clearly indicate parental rights for ex-convicts and are still a contested matter.
When parental rights have been terminated for committing a felony, most if not all parents seek to regain these rights after the incarceration period. When brought before a chamber of jurists for a ruling, the judge(s) may consider a number of factors that will determine whether one will gain back parental rights or not. These factors are; the felony charge(s) and whether they have direct impact on the child, completion of the felony sentence, correctional efforts, any current child obligations, consistent in visiting your children and whether you have a bond with your child.
The matter of Rights of Ex-convicts in parenting or after serving there incarceration periods emanates an emotive debate and may require legal opinions for legal experts.