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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 75269 Find in a Library
Title: Legal Aspects of Child Abuse and Neglect (From Child Abuse and Neglect - A Community Approach, P 76-78, 1978)
Author(s): D Whetstone
Date Published: 1978
Page Count: 3
Sponsoring Agency: Birmingham Publishing Co
Birmingham, AL 35209
Sale Source: Birmingham Publishing Co
130 South 19th Street
Birmingham, AL 35209
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: An Alabama district attorney explains why a child abuse prosecution is different from other criminal actions and suggests methods of dealing with child abusers short of incarcerating them in less serious cases.
Abstract: The prosecutor is faced with three problems unique to child abuse cases. First, the victim is a child who cannot testify effectively or without great trauma, and the principal witness is generally married to the suspect, against whom he or she cannot be compelled to testify. Another problem is that the Department of Pensions and Security deals with suspected child abuse cases much differently than do prosecutors. Social workers treat the problem of child abuse to improve conditions in particular families, while prosecutors enforce the laws against child abuse in the name of the people of the State. The recently enacted Alabama child abuse legislation provides for prosecutions for neglect as well as serious abuse of children. A final problem facing prosecutors is that incarceration of an abusive parent shifts responsibility of supporting both parent and child to the State. Two alternatives to incarceration could solve the problems of the State and particular families in less serious cases. One alternative is a pretrial diversion program to settle family disputes that result in child abuse. The second is a deferred immunity program in which an offender contracts with the prosecutor to delay prosecution indefinitely if certain corrective actions are taken, such as regular attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or refraining from further acts of abuse. A hard line should still be followed by prosecutors in more serious cases.
Index Term(s): Alabama; Child abuse; Child abuse reporting; Child abuse reporting statutes; Juvenile codes; Juvenile dependency and neglect; Prosecution; State laws; Workshops and seminars
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