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April 27, 2017

"Criminal Law as Family Law"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper now available via SSRN authored by Andrea Dennis. Here is the abstract:

The criminal justice system has expanded dramatically over the last several decades, extending its reach into family life.  This expansion has disproportionately and negatively impacted Black communities and social networks, including Black families.  Despite these pervasive shifts, legal scholars have virtually ignored the intersection of criminal, family, and racial justice.

This Article explores the gap in literature in two respects.  First, the Article weaves together criminal law, family law, and racial justice by cataloging ways in which the modern criminal justice state regulates family life, particularly for Black families.  Second, the Article examines the depth of criminal justice interference in family life and autonomy through analysis of the impact of community supervision on families.  These explorations reveal that community supervision, and criminal justice more broadly, operate as a de facto family law regime, negatively restructuring Black family autonomy, stability and loyalty, all of which family law seeks to promote.  The Article recommends that the practice of community supervision return to its roots in human services and calls on legal scholars to focus critical attention on criminal law’s creation of disparate and unequal family law systems.

April 27, 2017 at 06:53 PM | Permalink


Always great to see a former professor of mine featured on here. Professor Dennis was my evidence and criminal procedure (bail to jail) professor. I clicked on this in my RSS feed specifically because I knew this was here field and then was pleased to see it was her article!

Posted by: Cameron Roberts | Apr 27, 2017 10:43:33 PM

While I am no lawyer; I do agree with the premise of your argument. It is ethically and morally wrong to make non payment of child support a felony. This is only helping to promote the continued systematic disenfranchisement of Afro-Americans specifically. If the courts truly had the best interest of families at heart there should be more networking and cooperation between local communities, established religious organizations and businesses to help parents find work and/or proper training to support themselves and their families.

Posted by: Rev. Jack Cook | Apr 28, 2017 12:14:28 PM

If we just killed all the children there would be no one to grow up into criminals.

Simple Solution. Simple Justice.

Posted by: Master | Apr 28, 2017 7:45:43 PM

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