Professor Philip M. Genty to Address Issues of Parental Incarceration at White House Conference

Genty Directs the Prisoners and Families Clinic at Columbia Law School and Is An Expert on Prisoners' Rights and Family Law.

New York, August 15, 2013—Columbia Law School Professor Philip M. Genty has been invited by the White House Office of Public Engagement to speak about the legal and social policy implications of addressing the needs of prisoners’ children and families at an August 20 conference. 

Genty was asked to participate in the daylong event based on his extensive research in the area, including his 2012 article, “Moving Beyond Generalizations and Stereotypes to Develop Individualized Approaches for Working with Families Affected by Parental Incarceration,” which was published in Family Court Review.  Genty, the Everett B. Birch Innovative Teaching Clinical Professor in Professional Responsibility, directs the Prisoners and Families Clinic at the Law School.
 Professor Philip M. Genty
At the White House conference, “Parental Incarceration in the United States: Bringing Together Research and Policy to Reduce Collateral Costs to Children,” Genty will speak about parental incarceration policies and practices that most urgently need to be addressed, the impact of policies on children, the usefulness of data collection in understanding parental imprisonment, and other topics.
The conference, funded by the National Science Foundation, will bring together scholars and policymakers across a variety of professional disciplines.
In his 2012 Family Court Review article, Genty argues that society should take a more individualized, qualitative approach when adopting policies that affect the children and families of incarcerated persons. As an example, he points to a New York State law that allows for an exception to a federal statute requiring the termination of parental rights after a child has been in foster care for 15 months—far shorter than the average prison sentence—when certain family-specific factors are met. Genty consulted with the Correctional Association of New York on its efforts to get the law passed.
“Parental incarceration involves interplay of complex issues,” Genty writes in the article. “Only by discarding preconceptions and simplistic approaches, can we hope to provide appropriate services and support for children and families affected by parental incarceration. There are no easy answers or shortcuts. Careful, sensitive, labor-intensive effort—informed by actual knowledge about the individual families—is required.”