Posts Tagged ‘Child Protective Services’

Crime and punishment roundup

  • Judges generally aren’t supposed to jail defendants over petty fines and fees they’re unable to pay, but many do anyway. How one Texas judge resists [Ed Spillane, Washington Post]
  • Maryland legislature passes amended version of asset forfeiture bill I spoke favorably of at Annapolis press event in January [Tenth Amendment Center, background]
  • Child services hair-sample forensics: “This Canadian Lab Spent 20 Years Ruining Lives” [Tess Owen, Vice]
  • Cato’s 1995 Handbook for Congress urged repeal of Clinton crime bill, but Congress didn’t listen [Tim Lynch, Newsweek and more]
  • “The main thing going through my head was, ‘I’m never going to get a job again.’” Public shaming as punishment [Suzy Khimm, The New Republic]
  • Judge Alex Kozinski publicly names prosecutors in Washington state he thinks may have violated a defendant’s rights [Matt Ferner, HuffPo]

Scotland’s Named Person controversy heats up

We’ve warned for a while about the scheme in Scotland to appoint a state functionary, a so-called Named Person, to look after the interests of every child — not just every child in state care or for whom there are indicia of dangerous neglect or abuse, but every child, period. Now the results are coming in from early rollout of the scheme in some parts of the country. [The Scotsman]

[The professor’s] shock was compounded by the fact that work on this dossier, known as a Family Record, had started without his knowledge. He had only discovered its existence by accident long after the details of his home life had begun to be recorded. Furthermore, it was only after an eight-month battle with his local health board that he managed to obtain a redacted version of the document, which began to be compiled after an acrimonious break-up with his wife which led to a protracted legal row over access to their two children.

Initially pushed through with little opposition, the plan is now causing political grief for the ruling Scottish Nationalist Party of Nicola Sturgeon. Ruth Davidson, leader of the third-place Scottish Conservative Party, has called for rethinking the scheme, and now Scottish Labour Party leader Kezia Dugdale has suggested a halt to its implementation, while still favoring it in principle. The scheme is set to become effective for Scotland as a whole on August 1.

Tragic cases like that of 11-week-old Caleb Ness, the Edinburgh baby killed by his father despite the involvement of social work and health staff, have convinced the Scottish Government that action has to be taken. Indeed, the Named Person approach has the support of many organisations within civic Scotland, including children’s charities and teaching unions, who believe it will help struggling families and prevent tragedies…. In general, health visitors will act as Named Persons for pre-school children, with head teachers taking up the mantle as they get older.

Where not redacted, the 60-page file on the professor’s family had included observations on his children appearing to have diaper rash and runny noses not cleaned for a while, and observed the father “did not appear to take advice on board fully” regarding the thumb-sucking habit of his younger son:

“I find it sinister. I find it very creepy. I find it chilling,” he said. “They just hoover up all of this hearsay and then collate it into huge documents and on to databases. Under the new legislation all sorts of people have access to these databases. All they need is four or five reasons for intervention and they can hoover up information from any database and there is no control over whether this is true or not.”

[cross-posted at Cato at Liberty]

Legal perils of letting kids play outside, cont’d

“Remember the mom put on Illinois Child Abuse Registry for letting her kids, ages 11, 9, and 5, play at the park just outside her house? The state’s appellate court has thrown out the ‘child neglect citation’ against her, after a mere two-and-a-half-year battle with the Department of Child and Family Services.” [Lenore Skenazy, Reason] Relatedly, in Sacramento: “Mom Rejects Plea Deal of “Just” 30 Days in Jail for Letting 4 y.o. Play 120 Feet From Home” [Skenazy, Free-Range Kids]

On CPS: “The progressive case for parents’ rights is worth taking seriously”

The critique of Child Protective Services agencies advanced lately by the free-range kids movement should find a readier echo on the left, writes Michelle Goldberg in The Nation. “Progressives have not, in general, seen CPS as worthy of the same suspicion as other forms of law enforcement,” yet minorities and poor persons are exposed to its scrutiny and pressure if anything more intensely. “Most of the time, when CPS is called, no proof emerges that the parents did anything wrong.” Yet they may still keep coming around inspecting your refrigerator and so forth: “once CPS enters a poor family’s life…it can be hard for the family to extricate itself….A social worker may discover that the woman is living with a man who has a criminal record. And that’s enough to keep the case open.” One Twitter response, from Isaac A. Patterson:

More: Radley Balko.

“Take a Valium, Lose Your Kid, Go to Jail”

During pregnancy “occasional, small doses of diazepam (the generic name for Valium) are considered safe… But one morning a few weeks later, when Shehi was back at her job in a nursing home and the baby was with a sitter, investigators from the Etowah County [Alabama] Sheriff’s Office showed up at the front desk with a warrant. She had been charged with ‘knowingly, recklessly, or intentionally’ causing her baby to be exposed to controlled substances in the womb — a felony punishable in her case by up to 10 years in prison. The investigators led her to an unmarked car, handcuffed her and took her to jail.” [Nina Martin, ProPublica]

P.S. Expanded into a longer post at Cato at Liberty.

“Court: Leaving Baby in Car for 10 Minutes May Not Be Abuse”

“New Jersey officials were wrong to label a mother a child abuser for leaving her sleeping baby in an unattended locked car for 10 minutes while she went shopping in a nearby store, the state’s highest court ruled on Thursday.” Not only does she deserve a hearing before being put on the child abuse registry, said a unanimous New Jersey Supreme Court, but such a hearing should not find neglect unless her conduct is found to have placed the child in “imminent risk of harm.” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog; earlier here and here]

School and childhood roundup

  • Why campus trigger culture and offense bans aren’t just anti-intellectual and a foretaste of wider speech regulation, but fail at specific therapeutic goal of reducing psychological upset [Greg Lukianoff/Jonathan Haidt, The Atlantic cover story]
  • Newtown shooting advanced existing trend toward a regular police presence in schools; consequences may include escalation of low-level discipline [ACLU of Pennsylvania report “Beyond Zero Tolerance,” pp. 28-34]
  • “Scottish Government’s named person scheme criticized by experts who will implement it” [The Courier (Dundee), earlier]
  • “Kids Dig for Worms, Sell to Fishermen. Town Says Not So Fast: That’s Illegal!” [Cornwall, Ont.; Lenore Skenazy]
  • “British Universities See Ethics Committees as ‘Easy and Convenient’ Censors” [Zachary Schrag, Institutional Review Blog]
  • “His son’s school requires student athletes to carry their own insurance, a move that many other schools also have had to make because of the rising costs from lawsuits.” [Charleston, S.C.-area Palmetto Business Daily] “NYC has paid nearly $20M from playground injuries since 2010” [Reuven Blau, NY Daily News]
  • Mom in famous Silver Spring, Md. “free range kids” episode is writing book, solicits stories of unattended kids and CPS abuse [tweet to @DanielleMeitiv or message at Facebook]

Medical roundup

  • Scorecards on complication rates and outcomes may reveal little about who’s a bad doctor since best docs sometimes take hardest cases [Saurabh Jha, KevinMD] “Anatomy of error: a surgeon remembers his mistakes” [The New Yorker]
  • When parents and doctors don’t agree, are allegations of “medical child abuse” levied too liberally? [Maxine Eichner, New York Times; Lenore Skenazy, see also “medical kidnapping” links]
  • ABA’s Standing Committee on Medical Professional Liability derailed in bid for House of Delegates resolution endorsing unlimited punitive damages in product liability [Drug & Device Law first, second, third posts]
  • Wisconsin repeals medical whistleblower law [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
  • “Politically Driven Unionization Threatens In-Home Care” [David Osborne, IBD]
  • Ninth Circuit upholds Washington state regulations forcing family pharmacy to dispense morning-after pills [The Becket Fund]
  • Pathologist who frequently diagnosed shaken baby syndrome loses Montana role [Missoulian]

Schools and childhood roundup

  • “Someone could have put their hand in the window and unlocked the door and taken the kids” [Lenore Skenazy/Free Range Kids; related stories here and here; similar, Illinois Policy]
  • Police warn that plan in Scotland to provide state guardian for every child could backfire in abuse investigations [Telegraph, more on “named person” scheme]
  • Also from Scotland: Law Society says proposed ban on liquor promotion is so broad it might snag parent wearing rugby-sponsor jacket at school pickup [Express]
  • Judge rejects Mississippi school finance suit [Andrew Ujifusa, State Education Watch, background]
  • Widespread criticism of Michigan judge for sending kids to juvenile detention for not wanting to have lunch with their father [Radley Balko]
  • “Two Parents Weren’t Sure How Their Little Girl Fractured Her Leg, So CPS Took the Kids” [Lenore Skenazy, more, yet more on “medical kidnapping”]
  • Caleb Brown and Andrew Grossman discuss educator-dues case of Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association [Cato Daily Podcast, earlier on case, its SCOTUSBlog page]