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Court rules on ending parental rights for Arizona inmates

PHOENIX — An Arizona appellate court said judges have leeway in
determining whether the length of a parent’s incarceration justifies terminating
parental rights.

Arizona law allows judges to consider whether a parent’s imprisonment means a
child would be deprived of a normal home.

The Court of Appeals upheld a judge’s refusal to terminate the parental rights
of a prison inmate who is the father of a girl abandoned by her mother.

The judge took into consideration that the inmate might be released with a
matter of months, but state officials said the entire length of his sentence
mattered.

However, the Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the judge was aware of the
full sentence but concluded that the man’s possible early release was relevant
in deciding whether to terminate his parental rights.

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