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Article

Political philosophers’ interest in the family—understood as a unit in which one or more adults discharge a socially and legally recognized role as primary carers of their children—has given rise to a rich and multifaceted body of literature. Some of the questions philosophers address concern justice and the family, specifically, that is, they concern the competing claims of individuals once it is acknowledged that, as well as being citizens, individuals have all been members of families as infants, and may be members of families as parents, and that how the family is structured and run has a profound impact on the prospects and opportunities of infants and of their parents, and on some interests of society as a whole. Two main sets of questions about the family and justice are as follows. The first set of questions concerns what the family owes society as a matter of justice, that is, how the family can and should help realize, or how it may hinder the achievement of, independently formulated demands of justice. One such demand is that of equality of opportunity: philosophers have debated whether the existence of the family necessarily threatens pursuit of equality of opportunity for children, and what may, or should, be done about this. They have offered a variety of diagnoses of the problem and solutions to it, depending on their views about the legitimacy of parental partiality and about the value of the parent–child relationship. Another demand of justice that may be in tension with the family is the demand not to diminish the fair shares of one’s fellow-citizens. Whether prospective parents must constrain their freedom to found and raise a family in light of considerations about the environmental impact that their having and rearing children will have for future generations, for example, is a growing concern among philosophers. The second set of questions about the family and justice concern what society owes families—that is, what citizens owe to one another as a matter of justice, insofar as they are actual or potential members of families. While there is widespread agreement that adults have a right to parent—and to parent their biological children, in particular—and that children have a right to be raised in families and typically by their biological parents, there is a wealth of different views regarding the grounds of these rights. The views differ depending on whether they appeal to people’s interests in freedom, or in well-being, or both, in order to justify access to the family. Whether, besides having the right to access the family, parents also have claims to having society share in the costs of having and raising children, is a further question that political philosophers have examined and on which they have offered diverging answers.

Article

Jeremy Sarkin

African prisons are some of the least-studied penal institutions anywhere in the world. This is not true everywhere on the continent, as prisons in some countries such as South Africa are adequately studied and have been the subject of commissions of inquiry stretching back to colonial times. It is also difficult to generalize about Africa. For example, there are massive disparities between north Africa and sub-Saharan Africa. Usually, not much information beyond generalities exists for many of them across the African continent. As a result, many negative perceptions endure that are not reflective of the different systems and the different countries in the region. The focus of the research has often been on specific themes and certain countries only and has generally focused on problems. There is, however, a need to portray a more realistic situation in prisons in all fifty-four countries more accurately, without generalizing, and to provide more solution-orientated research to a variety of issues. This can be partly achieved by comparative investigation. While the conditions in many African prisons are harsh and difficult for inmates, comparatively speaking, prisons in Africa are not the worst in the world. However, they are generally overcrowded, and there is much violence. Issues generally concerning health, food, sanitation, amenities, and other matters remain generally problematic. However, much data is missing from a range of countries. More research is needed to gather more data and to interrogate the diverse prisons in the different countries. There is a need for more holistic research that understands prisons not as isolated institutions but as part of criminal justice systems. There is a need to understand how methods of policing, the conduct of prosecutions, and court processes all have an impact upon conditions within the prisons of a particular country.

Article

Sarah E. DeYoung

During crisis events such as humanitarian conflicts, population displacement, natural disasters, and others, some people are more vulnerable to long-term physical, psychological, and overall adverse outcomes. Aspects of context that affect vulnerability include: (a) the nature of the hazard or conflict event; (b) the geographic location and structural surroundings; and (c) involvement of key groups during crisis. The nature of the event includes barriers for access to well-being in high-income and low-income contexts, the speed of onset of the hazard, the scope and type of hazard (localized or catastrophic, natural or technological, and other factors). Geographic location and structural surroundings include factors such as isolation caused by an island context, structural mitigation (such as earthquake-resistant construction), pollution and environmental exposure, and implementation of land use planning or sustainable farming. Finally, with regard to involvement of key groups in crisis, it is important to consider ways in which group coordination, logistics, cultural competency, public policy, social movements, and other mechanisms can exacerbate or improve conditions for vulnerable groups. Groups more likely to experience adverse outcomes in disasters include: ethnic and racial minoritized persons, people considered to be low caste, women, children, infants, sexual minorities, religious minorities, elders, and immigrants and refugees. Displacement and relocation are associated with specific increases in exposure to food insecurity, human trafficking, and reduced access to reproductive care. Contextual factors are also related to the severity of the adverse outcomes these groups experience in crisis. These factors include access to healthcare, access to education, and economic status. There are also unique groups whose needs, social systems, and cultural factors increase barriers to evacuation, accessing warning information, or accessing safe sheltering. These groups include persons with functional and access needs including medical or cognitive impairments, elderly individuals, people with companion animals, and people with mental illness.

Article

LGBTQ-headed families face a complicated legal landscape when it comes to legal recognition. The 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling , permitting same-sex couples nationwide to marry, substantially shifted the legal landscape for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) parents. Many families now have access to legal recognition through joint adoption, stepparent adoption, and the long-held legal presumptions of parentage for children born to married parents. Yet access to marriage has not fully created the necessary legal protections for the diverse ways in which LGBTQ-headed families form and live their lives. The patchwork of legal protections across the states means that many LGBTQ-headed families lack needed security, stability, and legal recognition.