Professor Daniel Pollack and colleagues write recently of a challenging issue facing today's children, families, schools, courts, law enforcement, and communities. The topic is whether multiple foster care placements during childhood should be considered as a mitigating circumstance during sentencing those convicted of crime. The authors posit that considering foster care placement as a mitigating factor "is compelling, particularly if the placements took place during a contracted period of time and during pre-adolescence or adolescence."
It is not news that foster care placements (many children placed in foster care remain in care for the duration of their minority. It should come as no surprise that many of these children, if not most, are ill-equipped to handle life outside of "the system" when they "age out" at the age of majority--18 in most states, 16 in others. When one considers the emotional, social and other deprivations children in care face, it is not surprising that these young adults develop criminal histories.
The authors clarify their goal:
"Several years ago we queried whether, in certain circumstances, foster
care per se should be considered a mitigating circumstance in criminal
proceedings. At that time, although we offered an informative discussion
about the foster care experience which could have affected the perspectives
of those contemplating the issue, we did not come to a definitive
"In the ensuing years, what has become clear is that multiple foster
placements – arbitrarily defined as more than five placements – warrant
treatment as a mitigating circumstance in criminal proceedings. The case
for considering such placements as a mitigating circumstance is compelling,
particularly if the placements took place during a contracted period of time
and during pre-adolescence or adolescence." [Emphasis added. (JMH)]
In Part I, the authors review numerous professional studies regarding the effects of foster care in general.
Part II examines the legal implications of designating multiple foster care placements as a mitigating circumstance.
Part III concludes that the time to affirmatively consider multiple foster care placements as a possible mitigating factor in criminal proceedings is now.
This most compelling law journal article may be downloaded and read here: Pollack, Daniel, Eisenberg, Khaya, and Dolce, Amanda. "Multiple Foster Care Placements Should Be Considered a Mitigating Factor in Criminal Proceedings." Ohio Northern University Law, Review 44, no. 2018, 85-101. April 1, 2018. Accessed April 10, 2018. doi:https://tinyurl.com/yckyz69y.