Promoting Prisons As Public Policy

I recently toured Richard Ross Juvenile In Justice museum display in Reno NV. Heart rending photos of ten and twelve year old children in America’s justice system. So powerfully does his photographers eye catch the meaning of former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statement that “The difference between that poor child & a felon is about 8 years”.

Chief Justice Blatz other quote hangs with me also, “90 % of the youth in juvenile justice have come through child protection services”, reminds me of just how much trauma has been suffered by abused and neglected children & how by not helping them we pretty much guarantee a pipeline to prison for them and the dangerous streets & failing schools that they leave along the way.

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Planned Evacuation Routes, Teachers Packing Heat (what’s next, Uzi’s?)

It hurts me to see the NRA making public policy & politicians blaming teachers for failed schools while they (those same policy making people) are ignoring the screaming need for early childhood programs that could stem the poverty and mental health tsunami that has attacked our inner cities (Detroit, Flint, Houston, Compton, Baltimore…giant swaths of a new and dangerous America )

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New York Saves $666 per State Ward Child (Destroying Children & An Important CASA Program)

New York State Ranks 44th in adoption of state ward children and 40th in moving children off of the state ward list.

At a cost of about $666/per child, abused and neglected children have had a personal volunteer CASA voice speak for them in the cold, hard, underfunded institution that is child protection in New York. CASA graduates in New York are half as likely as non CASA children to re enter the system (and a whole host of other positive measurements). One of my CASA case boys alone has cost Hennepin County several million dollars (without counting the people he has stabbed, teacher he assaulted, lives he has crushed, or property he has destroyed).

In his case, my county saved the money (under $500) it would have cost to complete a background check on the man who requested custody of his son while he was still in prison.

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Guns and Children In Florida (it’s not guns that kill people) It’s Bad Laws About Guns

In Florida it is against the law for a Pediatrician to ask a patient about guns in the house.

In 2010 almost 20,000 children were killed or wounded by firearms in America (A child is killed or wounded every thirty minutes) (Slate article Feb 1)

Simply explaining public health issues to parents seems like a natural function of the medical profession.

At Children’s Health of Ocala, Florida, Pediatrician, Dr. Okonkwo was asking routine public safety questions about swimming pools, bike helmets & loaded guns in the home of one of his patients.

Dr Okonkwo was right about locking ammunition and guns separately as a public health issue for children.

For this he could be accused of “unnecessarily harassing” the mother of his patient (the child).

Turns out, it is against Florida law to ask questions about gun ownership or ammunition in the entire state of Florida. The initial bill called for a five million dollar fine & five years in prison (for asking a Floridian if there was a gun in the home).

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Tracking America’s Most At Risk Children (Compiled)

New documents obtained by KCAL9 detail previous allegation of abuse in the case of a now- deceased 8-year-old Palmdale boy who investigators say was tortured and beaten to death. Gabrieal Frenandez suffered a skull fracture, several broken ribs and severe burn marks over various spots of his body before he was hospitalized last month, according to the La County Sheriff’s Department. He died from injuries may 24. The mother confessed that she had been abusing the boy from time to time. His mother Pearl Fernandez and her boyfriend Isauro Aguirre have been charged for murder.
The Republican governor last week defended O’Day’s leadership, even after the agency told a federal judge it couldn’t say with any certainty how many children died while in its custody.

The department previously reported the deaths of 151 children in their custody between January of 2009 and July of 2012 but retracted that number after a third party reported that number to be less than exact.

They now say they are not sure how many have died.

According to the Tennessean in the first six month of 2012 there were 31 deaths among children, ranging from newborns to teenagers.
Abdifatah Mohamud was bludgeoned to death by his stepfather a year after the boy called 911 to report he was being abused. Mother of drowned toddler speaks out

January 28, 2013. Washington DC, Maryland.

The mother of a 15 month old boy has commented that the court, judges, and police failed to help her son when his death could have so easily been prevented. The father of the boy, despite being under investigation for abuse, was granted unsupervised visits by a judge. Shortly thereafter, he killed the child.

http://www.nbcwashington.com/video/#!/news/local/Mother-of-Drowned-Toddler-Speaks-Out/188504431

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Supporting America’s Economy With Bigger Prisons & Longer Sentencing (thank you Jonathan Swift)

he stun gunning, choking, obscene language, and over the top violence by police to kids at the Illinois emergency youth center shows just how deplorable America’s policies for At Risk Children are.
Well meaning, often under trained and under resourced youth center staff call on police to help with uncontrollable youth. Under trained police respond with a level of violence appropriate during a prison riot. Note (below) Sheriff Mulch’s attitude towards dealing with children at the youth center. Perhaps he shouldn’t.
– See more at: http://www.invisiblechildren.org/category/crime-and-courts/#sthash.lLOoRebb.dpuf

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Tracking America’s Most At Risk Children (Weekly)

Teen who killed baby sentenced to 90 days

October 18, 2012. Colorado.

Dylan Kuhn had called authorities stating that his 6-month-old daughter was found hanging from her crib by her next and that she wasn’t breathing. Authorities later discovered she had injuries consistent with being “slammed” against a soft and unyielding surface (like a mattress). Kuhn later stated that he did slam his daughter into the bed and she became quiet afterward, that she had never had a blanket around her neck, and that he lied to police initially because he was afraid the mother would hate him for it. Kuhn plead guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to 90 days in jail, 4 years of probation, a parenting class, a mental health evaluation, a drug abuse evaluation, and would not be allowed to be alone with any child under the age of 10.

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Judges Jailing Children For Money In America (yes it happens)

A second Pennsylvania judge (Michael Conahan) has plead guilty for receiving commissions for each child sent to privately held detention facilities (PA Childcare and Western PA Childcare) .

2.6 million dollars in fees were paid for between one and two thousand children sentenced for things they did not do. Judge Mark Ciavarella was identified some months ago as the primary offender in this case.

This adds a sorrowful twist to Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz statements that “90% of the youth in juvenile justice have passed through child protection” & “”The difference between that poor child and a felon, is about 8 years”.

In Pennsylvania 90% just isn’t filling privately held facilities with enough human prison fodder. I know how hard life is for at risk children and find this kind of crime to be a hanging offense for both the owners of the privately held facilities as well as the corrupters of our legal system.

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Religious Freedom In Philadelphia Kills 2 Young children (4 years apart, same home)

In April, 2 year old Kent Schailble died of treatable pneumonia because his parent’s fanatical religion demanded it. Kent’s 4 year old brother Brandon died for the same reason in the same home just a few years earlier (he was also denied medical treatment for a completely treatable disease).

As a CASA guardian ad-Litem, I witnessed 49 police calls to a home where a seven year old had been prostituted and the only reason the children (girls 4 and 7) were removed from the home on the 49th call, was that the 7 year old tried to kill the 4 year old in the presence of police officers (it was a child’s cry for help).

Somewhere in this conversation we need to discuss child protection and the civil rights of children.

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Minnesota’s Gaps & Mitch Pearlstein’s Room Full Of Elephants

About a third of the children in child protection use psychotropic medications (when tracked – most often not published). Judge Heidi Schellhas provided me with a list of children in her courtroom that were forced on to psychotropics, it was long and children as young at six and seven years old were prescribed Prozac type drugs.

If your sister is born into is drug addicted, abusive, or otherwise toxic family, without community assistance, she will herself raise babies that are soon to be drug addicted, abusive, or toxic to their own children (and so on and so on and so on).

The male side of that statement was made much more eloquently by former MN Supreme Court Chief Justice Kathleen Blatz “the difference between that poor child and a felon is about 8 years”.

The beatings will continue until the morale improves (anonymous)

“What we do to our children, they will do to society” Pliny the Elder 2500 years ago

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It Can’t Happen Here

This article shines light on a serious social failure not uncommon in America. 6 year Sarah Elizondo has been forced by the court to live with a pedophile parent (Nicholas Elizondo served 6 years for the crimes he committed upon very young girls).

One of my first cases as a volunteer CASA guardian ad-Litem was a 7 year old boy that had been forced by the court to live with his pedophile father (who had spent 2/3 of his adult life in prison for the crimes he was about to commit on his son – and there was a court order forbidding him to be near young boys).

This boy had spent 4 years tied to a bed, sexually abused, starved, and left alone for days at a time in a small apartment (what do you think it would be like at 4,5,6, or 7 to be tied to a bed and left alone for days at a time without food?)

The boy was covered from head to foot in severe bruises when he entered the child prote

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Children Of The Incarcerated; Collateral Damage

About 3 out of 100 Americans are incarcerated, on the way to being incarcerated, or have been released from incarceration. When broken out by race, these numbers are dramatically worse for people of color.

Minneapolis, MN for instance, arrested 44% of its adult Black men in 2001. There were no duplicate arrests and 58% of those men went on to be rearrested for a second crime within 2 years. America now leads the world in incarceration; 5% of the earth’s population and 25% of its prison population.

The children of incarcerated parents have higher rates of pregnancy, dropout and expulsion rates from school, STDs, mental health issues & criminal behavior. In fact, the children of incarcerated parents have more involvement with the criminal justice system than their offending parent did.

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Mandated Reporting, or Basic Responsibility (it’s absence is killing Wisconsin & Pennsylvania children)

Leilani and Dale Neumann allowed their daughter to die a painful and lengthy death from fully treatable disease on Easter Sunday of 2008. Relatives were aware of the wacky faith healing beliefs that were soon to kill 11 year old Kara Neumann.

Medical experts testified at the trial that Kara would have lived if her parents had brought her to a doctor at any time before she stopped breathing.

Wisconsin (and 12 other states) don’t charge parents who murder their children in this fashion of child abuse.

Last May, Herbert and Catherine Schaible murdered their second child in Philadelphia by faith healing treatable pneumonia, just 3 years after killing their 2 year old son by faith healing his pneumonia until he died.

The most frightening element of these stories is that children that suffer from horrific negligence and terrible abuse only make the paper when they die. 6 million children are reported to child protection agencies in this nation annually. Only a few get the help they need.

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Justice For Children In Atlanta Is Suffering Under Judge John Goger

Why would a guardian ad litem make $150,000 suppressing evidence, Why would a custody evaluator make $65,000 on a case where the evidence was overwhelming?

Apparently, to prevent a child from being protected against the man who had twice been arrested for molesting her (five independent assessments supported the girls story of repeated abuse.

Atlanta judge John Goger ordered the girl to live with her pedophile father. When asked by CBS Atlanta News, the judges assistant stated that the judge had “no comment”.

This kind of abuse lasts forever. Someone should comment.

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Riverside CA, 6 Investigations – Case Workers Find The Abuse Allegations “Unfounded” (but the 8 year old boy is dead)

Over the last ten years, six investigations involving Pearl Fernandez found no reason to take her son, Gabriel Fernandez, into protective custody.

Gabriel’s suicide note about repeated sexual abuse & his circular face welts were part of a long list of ignored information from mandated reporters.

California Child Protection workers were very familiar with Gabriel’s history.

Today, Pearl and her boyfriend were charged with murder and torture for the gruesome death of their 8 year old boy.

82% of Riverside’s 44,737 cases were investigated (this is impressive) 21 % were substantiated. More than 20 children are murdered each year as open cases within the Riverside CA child protection system. Blaming social workers won’t solve this. Providing them training and resources might.

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Punishing Mental Health Problems With Horrid Juvenile Justice; In Many States, This Is The Rule, Not The Exception

Thank the legal community for shining a light on the abhorrent conditions facing mentally troubled California youth.

There’s good reason the Feds are denying California’s request to extend the time for compliance within their jails and prisons and this is a prime example.

14 years old, bipolar and placed in solitary for 22 1/2 hours daily for one hundred days. Read the whole article below. Mean people in a mean system.

California, your justice systems just stink.

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America’s Amazingly False Answers To Mental Health Issues

Criminalizing mental health,…, denied treatment,…Michael Schuler stabbed himself in both eyes after spending 40 days in jail”) identifies the iceberg tip that is the crisis of this nation’s failure to deal with mental health issues. “Hundreds of inmates with dangerous psychiatric problems languish in county jails” is repeated in hundreds of county jails and hundreds of prison facilities throughout America.

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Schools Criminalizing American Children

East coast schools are experiencing the mass incarceration and expulsion of student populations.

Using police instead of counselors has lead to a giant leap in overcrowded courts, incarcerated youth, & privatized juvenile justice facilities.

New Jersey eliminated all mental health services from schools and uses the justice system to deal with adolescent problems.

New York students with disabilities are 4 times more likely to be suspended than the non-disabled (New York Times/Molly Knefel) with 69,000 expulsions and 2,500 arrests last year, mostly for infractions that would have dealt with by counselors in years past.
Pennsylvania recently sent 2 judges to prison for 40 years for receiving kickbacks for sending thousands of mostly innocent youth into the privatized youth prison system.

The data is clear that children of color and poverty are grossly over-represented in this newly criminalized society that is sweeping the nation.

In a nation that pays day care workers less than food service workers (the least paid profession in the nation) and has refused to adequately fund crisis nurseries, or subsidized day care, we should not be surprised that our youth are unprepared to learn in school and a source of non-criminal behaviors that trouble school officials.

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Child Sexual Abuse, Alcohol, & Help

Sexual abuse is likely the most horrific crime a young child can endure.

Almost 10% of children today are exposed to sexual abuse; from rape, incest, pornography, touching, fondling or sodomy.

According to the Childhelp organization, the most common ages that child sexual abuse acts are committed are ages 7 to 13.

Within child protection systems, these percentages are much higher and the children’s ages are lower when the abuse begins.

As a CASA guardian ad-Litem in Hennepin County, about half of the fifty children in my caseload were sexually abused. After almost 20 years as a County volunteer in child protection, I think it is the most under-reported crime in our nation.

Six million children are reported to child protection agencies in the U.S. each year. About 10% of them receive services. The other 90% are left to fend for themselves.

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