Illinois Appellate Court Ruling on Due Process Rights of Incarcerated Parents
A recent ruling in the Illinois Appellate Court decided if an incarcerated father had his due process rights violated because he was unable to attend a hearing terminating his parental rights since he was in a federal correctional facility in Wisconsin.
Two very young children J.S. and T.S. were found home alone by the Rockford police in their mother’s home. J.S. (seven years old) stated to the responding officers that he sometimes would babysit his brother T.S. (one-year-old). During the investigation, police found marijuana, scales, and a BB Pistol at the unattended home. The Department of Children and Family Service took J.S. and T.S. under protective custody. At this time their father was already in a federal correctional facility in Wisconsin. The father was previously indicted and convicted of drug trafficking crimes and possession of a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking crimes. The father had other prior convictions.
As a result of the incident, the State filed neglect petitions as to J.S. and T.S. The trial court was aware that the father was in Wisconsin due to his incarceration. The trial court appointed counsel to the children’s father and a writ of habeas corpus was issued asking the federal correctional facility to have the father delivered to the trial court, but the writ was denied. Typically, the federal government does not honor a state writ of habeas corpus. The mother of the children stipulated to one count of the neglect petition, which alleged that the minors were left unsupervised for an unreasonable period of time. The trial court concluded that J.S. and T.S. were neglected minors and DCFS was appointed as their legal guardian and custodian. Continue reading