I write about children in my CASA caseload that have cost my county & state millions of dollars because tight funding demanded extreme scrutiny & less than adequate resources to save them from extended exposure to violence & deprivation (the World Health Organization’s definition of torture).
One of the boys (I call him Andy, not his real name), a real life example I use in my public speaking hit about 5 million dollars in direct state/county costs a few years ago without counting the people he has stabbed, at least one teacher he beat up and severely injured, or any of the other rage-full attacks on people & property that he has already committed.
Because the State refused to spend the $500 to do a basic background check on his father before assigning dad custody, even though dad had a court order in an adjacent state forbidding him from being around young boys because of what he did to them and even though dad had spent 2/3’s of his adult life in prison, Andy (the child) was taken from a loving foster home to spend 4 years (from 4 to 7 years of age) sexually abused, beaten and starved by his biological father. From 4 to 7 years old, Andy was left alone in an apartment for days at a time without food or drink, tied to a bed.
Bruised from head to toe when dad finally brought him to school (at 7 years old), placed into child protection services and not treated for mental health issues, Andy became a very disturbed young man.
Prozac, Ritalin, & other psychotropic medications, multiple suicide attempts and intermittent months of sporadic & very expensive “suicide watch” therapy (including airplane trips to emergency facilities) & group homes were the State’s underfunded, misguided attempts to manage a terrifically damaged beautiful young boy were too little and too late.
Andy has been a ward of the state now for 16 years & will most likely remain a ward of the state for the rest of his life.
If he lives to 60, he could be a 10 to 20 million dollar burden to the state, without calculating any amount for his violence, the people he hurts, & the damage he does.
6 years ago, he contracted AIDS, & is now taking one of the most expensive long term pharmaceutical therapies in the world.
$500 saved by not investigating the new custodial parent vs. many millions of dollars in direct costs in child protection/juvenile & criminal justice, without any compensation to the people he has hurt or property he has destroyed.
This is not rocket science, it is simple economics and caring for the weakest & most vulnerable among us.
All of the children in my case load have some version of this economic equation at play (see www.avahealth.org) & Art Rolnick, Federal Reserve Bank Studies for a more institutional, historical, and studied approach to this equation.
Not only are America’s institutions creating exactly what they were designed to stop, but we are cruelly denying abused a neglected children the right to lead a normal life & we are dooming our cities to dangerous streets, failing schools (just try to manage a classroom of 30 children with one or more abused children on Prozac/Ritalin in your classroom), and the very definition of why America has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population.
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