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Arizona Supreme Court rules welfare officials must offer reunification services to prisoners

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled recently that state child-welfare officials have a constitutional duty to offer reunification services, such as visitation between parent and child, to prisoners serving long sentences.

Justices considered the reunification issue as part of a father’s appeal of a court’s termination of his parental rights. 

Arizona has had no previous law requiring reunification services.

Friday’s ruling was based on a 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision that parents have a “fundamental liberty interest” in the care, custody and management of their children.

Friday’s decision says it is difficult to maintain parental bonds while separated, but an incarcerated parent can maintain a relationship with a child in other ways, such as visits, phone calls, and letters.

Vaughan Jones is the weekend reporter for KJZZ, and a graduate of ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communications. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism, with a minor in music. As a Phoenix native, Jones’s dream is to serve his community by covering important stories in the metropolitan area.He spent two years as music director at Blaze Radio, ASU’s student-run radio station. His passion for radio stems from joining Blaze his freshman year as a DJ.When he is not working, Jones can be found writing music with his band, playing video games with his friends, or watching his favorite Phoenix-area sports teams.