Hiring a Nanny with a Felony for Child Endangerment

When drrnznkssk
you live in a world filled with excess laws and cruel, capricious or hamstrung enforcers, you can’t judge people by their felonies anymore:

Dear Lenore: I thought of you tonight. We are interviewing a nanny and she disclosed to us that she has a record — a felony endangerment to a child. The reason? Her child was 10 and sick but their schedules did not work for them to get him, so he stayed home from school and she told the neighbor that he was there at the house by himself. She couldn’t get back to him for another half hour. Oh, and he was 10!

Then the school called and her son tried to convince them that his mother was in the shower, but they didn’t buy it and called the police (!!!) who then visited the home and found him alone. They had to call Children & Family Services and from there she ended up getting charged.

We told her that this is not a negative to us and actually is a positive because she trusted her son to be able to stay at home. It’s everyone else that did not trust a child that should certainly be capable of handling a half hour at home by himself when he is sick. My Russian husband told her when he was 7 or 8 in Moscow, he was allowed to walk around by himself with none of this American crazy, and he was much younger than 10.

Crazy, crazy world.

Lenore here: I heard such a strikingly similar story this weekend of another almost-age-10 boy who was home with his 8-year-old sister for a few hours on a school half-day. When the police were alerted to his case, too, his parents (both teachers) were investigated for abuse and neglect. Had the authorities decided to play hardball, the parents could have been charged and perhaps found guilty. After all, it’s true they were not there.

 This would have spelled the end of their teaching careers. As it was, they were on pins and needles for several months wondering if their world was about to implode thanks to them knowing and trusting their responsible kids for a few hours, once.

 Kudos to this letter writer for having the courage of her convictions to hire the sitter she believes in.

Hiring a nanny with a felony.

Would you hire a nanny with a felony?

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60 Responses to Hiring a Nanny with a Felony for Child Endangerment

  1. Stacy August 11, 2014 at 9:09 am #

    I wouldn’t hire a nanny with most felonies (substance abuse, theft, assault, etc…there are plenty of other jobs where it would be more appropriate to take a chance that someone has reformed), but in this case I would hire her, assuming I was fully confident that her explanation was true.

    A felony for leaving a 10-year-old home is crazy. My mom was overprotective in a lot of ways when I was young, but she trusted me to stay home with my younger sister when I was ten. I recently left my ten-year-old home along while I was at a medical appointment with another child. It wasn’t her first time home alone and I was only going to be gone an hour, so I didn’t think anything of it — until I made an appointment for her with the receptionist, gave her birthdate (the receptionist said, “So she’s ten?”) and realized that she had probably overheard me mentioning on the phone to someone that she was at home playing. I tried to remember that this is actually pretty normal among my friends and neighbors, so it’s unlikely I’d be investigated and if I was there would be plenty in the community on my side.

  2. Andrew August 11, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    I would consider hiring this nanny, but I would also check out the story. She might be mandated by the court to tell any employer about the conviction, if the position involves children. If she told but the employer had a misleading idea of the case, then she has still fulfilled her obligation. At the very least, she is telling it in the best possible light.

    Yes, it is possible for the innocent to get caught up in the criminal justice system, and yes it is becoming too common for people to get caught up in in for actions I find benign. It is also very common for someone convicted to lie about the events of their conviction.

    Considering the cost of hiring a nanny, what is the cost of getting a ruling from a case at the courthouse?

  3. pentamom August 11, 2014 at 9:25 am #

    I did something similar to this once. At about the same age, my oldest child was homeschooled and #2 had to be picked up from school (a private school much too far away to walk and no bus service) and #1 was definitely too sick to pack up and take along, but not so sick that she couldn’t be left unattended for the 40 minutes it would take to make the trip if she stayed quietly in bed, which she had no desire not to do. Even SAHMs can run up against situations like that.

    Andrew does make a good point. While the nanny’s story is entirely plausible, it could also be a cover for something worse (although the unlikelihood of someone whose story didn’t hold up trying to get a job as a nanny is a point in her favor.) It’s probably worth checking out, if there’s a way to do that.

  4. Dirk August 11, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    I find this all hard to believe. It reeks of my best friend’s sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s girlfriend heard from this guy who knows this kid who’s going with the girl who saw Ferris pass out at 31 Flavors last night! No link provided…ugh.

  5. Havva August 11, 2014 at 9:44 am #

    I would want to see the court/police records to ensure that was actually the case. Unfortunately when states/juries lump ‘not a helicopter parent’ into the same criminal category as leaving 2 year olds alone all day long, it is hard to make sense of felony convictions.

    If she just left an ordinary 10 year old home alone for a half hour, or even an hour and a half; what she did wasn’t even a crime in my area.

    Slightly related P.S. seen on my Facebook feed… a friend has been doing some furniture shopping her kid got fed up and told parents “I can’t wait until I’m eight so I don’t have to go with you. …”

  6. CrazyCatLady August 11, 2014 at 10:19 am #

    Sure, I would want to see the records if this was the most qualified person, but if it checked out, I would feel fine hiring her. The 70s and 80s were full of latch-key-kids. My mother substitute taught the next school district over and I didn’t know when I left in the morning for 1st grade if she had a job that day or not. I would get home and either she would be there, or not. I had about an hour before my brother got home from junior high.

    And…I know people who have 10 year old kids watching younger siblings for several hours at a time. All goes well, kids are much happier to not be hauled into meetings to sit in the back of the room.

  7. JP Merzetti August 11, 2014 at 10:45 am #

    From early grade school…
    I would almost never go home after school. I’d be all over town, listening for the 5 o’clock factory whistle…and then slowly gravitate in home’s direction.
    Had there been no-one there all day long, it wouldn’t have made any difference.
    But if it had, I had two older sisters who would have been at least 11 &12 by the time (old enough to babysit.)
    But even then…would I be under their care?
    No. I’d be hanging out on the front stoop reading and trading comics with my friends.

    The socio-economics of this strike me:
    The woman is a nanny.
    Where are her resources to comply with these strictest of rules?
    (In other words……where is HER ‘nanny’?)

    This person who is quite possibly a wonderful human being, a great mother, a fine caregiver…is a felon in conncection with those exact attributes in question.
    The irony of this display of justice – does not escape me.

    Perceived endangerment too often lies in the eye of the beholder. Change the paradigm and you can bend and twist that any which way suits the purpose.
    It is not neglect or abuse. Too often, it is just normal life. Adult decisions encompassing the circumstances of the moment.
    Good nannies are no doubt, worth their weight in gold.
    The nanny state is entirely another matter.

  8. Lark August 11, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    Well, obviously, trust but verify.

    But frankly, even if the story was moderately worse – even if it involved genuinely bad judgment – in what way could a felony conviction possibly be merited or benefit the child?

    With a felony conviction, the woman is shut out of most employment and many government benefits (I believe including Medicaid). She more than likely will end up broke, dependent on family to support her, easily become housing-insecure (since many people won’t rent to felons and she’ll have trouble holding a steady job)…It’s a form of social death, keeping her out of most of the ordinary ways of being a regular person – working, living in a stable situation, being able to consume an ordinary range of products and services, etc. And even if she has loyal family/partner to support her, the stresses of a felony conviction will put stresses on those relationships too.

    And what good would all that be to the kid? A stressful and financially insecure home life, potentially having to change schools all the time if they’re housing-insecure, social shaming for having a parent who is a felon, not being able to have perfectly ordinary clothes and toys and food and so on because of lack of money…Frankly, this would be far, far worse than pretty much any treatment by parents that did not trigger removal of the child from the home. Even something pretty bad and irresponsible would be much less destructive to a child than the kind of downward spiral you get from a felony conviction.

  9. Papilio August 11, 2014 at 11:51 am #

    So, is putting a 9yo on the subway a felony yet?

    @Lark: “It’s a form of social death”
    So it’s more like ‘one strike, you’re out’? Nice… :-/

  10. BL August 11, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    Found this in a dictionary:

    “Felony originally comprised those offenses (murder, wounding, arson, rape, and robbery) for which the penalty included forfeiture of land and goods”

    Apparently the modern definition is “any law passed by lawmakers for purposes of grandstanding about how concerned they are and how much they care”

  11. J- August 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    Here is a question:

    If you trust your child over to someone with a felony, and something happens to that child, does that now mean that you are guilty of felony neglect for trusting someone with a felony?

    I’m not talking about something outlandish here. You hire the nanny from the article, or you get your kid’s Uncle Jon who is a nice guy but has a felony DUI on his record, or god forbid an indecent exposure from when he got drunk and peed on a trashcan; said felon takes your child to the park and he/she falls off the swing and busts open a lip. Said felon takes your kid to the hospital, doctors follow mandatory reporting rules and social services is called. Social services finds out you were out and a FELON WAS WATCHING YOUR CHILD!!! Does that decision, letting a felon – whom you trust – watch your kid, qualify as neglectful enough for charges to be brought against you?

    I can see that argument being made by a child advocate.

    P.S. I used the example in the park because it happened to me. I took a seesaw to the face, trying to use it like a launching platform, as boys who watch looney-toons are wont to do. My dad (not a felon) took me to the ER for stitches. I became the star of the show, being asked by person after person how I hurt my face and if my daddy hit me. I remember it being a horrible experience. Not the stitches, which was an excuse to eat only ice cream for a couple of days, but for how I was treated because I didn’t say my daddy hit me.

  12. John August 11, 2014 at 12:28 pm #

    With our crazy paranoid American society when it comes to children, it wouldn’t surprise me that this mother gets arrested and charged with child endangerment just because she hired this nanny. Again, our nanny state government micromanaging parents and trumping their personal decisions regarding their kids. Will this insanity ever end?

  13. Donna August 11, 2014 at 12:30 pm #

    I would definitely confirm the story before you hire her and not just take what she says at face value.

  14. Donna August 11, 2014 at 12:42 pm #

    J-

    I would answer your question as somewhat of a yes, but mostly no. If you hire a nanny who has a child endangerment felony conviction and that nanny then does something to endanger your child, I could see a court charging you with child endangerment for hiring that nanny. Same with Uncle Jon if he has a DUI conviction and then drives drunk with your child in the car, or if he has a indecent exposure charge and subsequently molests your child.

    You are very unlikely to be charged if the felony conviction has nothing to do with what happened like your example of Uncle Jon with a DUI and a kid who falls off a swing. There does need to be some connection between the conviction and the bad that happens to the child. Otherwise, it would be legally permissible to remove the children of all people ever convicted of a crime just on that basis alone.

  15. John August 11, 2014 at 12:43 pm #

    @Andrew….very true Andrew, there MIGHT be more to this story than the nanny is letting on. There is no reason for authorities not to give the parents a detailed explanation of this woman’s “crime” so it would behoove the parents to contact the police to see if her story collaborates with their’s. My gut feeling is that it would so there would be no reason for them not to hire this nanny and there is also no good reason why this nanny should have a felony record just for momentarily leaving their 10-year-old son home alone.

  16. John August 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    @Donna….I guess it comes down to trust. If uncle Jon has a DUI conviction, it’s the parents decision to give him the benefit of the doubt that he won’t drive drunk with your child in the car. Same if he has an indecent exposure conviction of peeing on a garbage can one night 10 years ago when he was a drunken college student. Again, it would be the parents decision to give him the benefit of the doubt that he won’t molest their child. It would seem that getting drunk and peeing on a garbage can when he was a wild college student would be no red flag for child molestation.

  17. Jill August 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    Ok…I understand that “child endangerment” is a felony. But what guideline is law enforcement relying on? Where is it codified in law the minimum age a child must be before it’s acceptable to let them do things alone?

    Do these enforcers bother looking at the whole picture – the condition of the home, the child’s emotional state & physical condition? Or is it JUST the fact that a child is alone that makes a parent negligent??? Ridiculous.

    And the fact that these parents have to take time off of work for court, possibly spend money on attorneys, and then have their professional credentials at risk – – when there is no statutory guideline to rely on is just wrong!

    For the record, I’m the oldest of six and I BABYSAT all five of my younger siblings on my own, beginning at age 11. Good grief.

  18. Donna August 11, 2014 at 1:02 pm #

    John – Parents don’t get to trust their children with anyone and then say “oh well I guess that I shouldn’t have trusted him” when something predictably bad happens to their children.

    Odds are that their trust in Uncle Jon is not misplaced and nothing will happen. However, if something does and it is the something that could be easily predicted from the previous actions, then the parents could be on the hook. Age and sameness of the conviction will be considerations in how predictable the outcome was. A single DUI from 20 years ago is certainly not indicative high risk of drunk driving today. 3 DUI convictions in the last 5 years and no known alcohol treatment probably is.

  19. heather August 11, 2014 at 1:22 pm #

    In our community the middle school now runs from 9-4. High Schools run from 7-3 and Elementary Schools from 8-2.

    Now for the purpose of my story, imagine that you are a high school teacher with a 10 year old going into the 6th grade. You must leave the home by 6:30 to make it to work on time. Your 10 year old will be home alone for a few hours and have to get him/herself ready and off to school. In the old days, this would NOT HAVE BEEN AN ISSUE.

    My neighbor is in this exact scenario. At first, he chose to just leave his daughter at home and let her sleep for a few hours, get herself up with an alarm, eat her cereal, and get dressed and off to school. This worked fine for over 7 months until one day when the power went out and she missed her alarm clock. The school called home to inform the parent (that works in the same school district) that the daughter was missing from school. She of course, woke up to the phone ringing. Explained that the power went off and she would be at school within the hour.

    The school called social services because she was home alone and “just a ten-year old little girl.” Social Services gave him a warning and said he MUST find appropriate care for his “small child”. Needles to say, the father’s options are limited. He can either hire a nanny for 2.5 hours in the morning at a cost that he cannot afford or wake up his child 2.5 hours early and bring her to the high school and then drop her off with the school bus office who will put her on the bus with elementary kids and then middle schoolers and bring her to school (effectively making her ride the bus for more than 2 hours each day.) To make matters worse, the school’s “morning care” only opens at 7:30 a.m. and the father would be late for work if he waited to drop her off and again costs money.

    This school scheduling plan was not well thought out and I swear it was only done to create more money in before school and after school care.

    The solution for this is now “morning care” at the school. Parents must drop off the child early so they can get to their own jobs on time.

  20. Steve August 11, 2014 at 1:24 pm #

    I just read some of the drivel on a website about considerations associated with leaving children home along.

    Worst First Thinking was on parade.

    Think about what daily life would be like in a society that thinks and prepares for the absolute worst possible scenario that rarely ever happens before doing “anything.”

    We’re not there yet, but are rocketing toward that goal.

    Shouldn’t everybody be wearing helmets and body armor just in case?
    (and of course it must be the right helmets and body armor)

    Shouldn’t everybody carry a change of clothes just in case?

    Shouldn’t everybody _______________ ?
    Shouldn’t everybody _______________ ?
    Shouldn’t everybody _______________ ?
    Shouldn’t everybody _______________ ?

    That list could be endless.

    And this one is growing quickly too!

    Quick! Call CPS, that kid was drinking a Coke and eating two donuts!
    Quick! Call CPS, that kid was walking by himself!
    Quick! Call CPS, that kid was walking across a street by himself.
    Quick! Call CPS, that kid was in a car alone.
    Quick! Call CPS, that kid was in a store by himself.
    Quick! Call CPS, that kid was playing in his front yard alone.
    Quick! Call CPS, that kid was at home alone.

    Quick! Call CPS that kid __________ and the parents didn’t ______ !
    Quick! Call CPS that kid was __________ and no parents were anywhere!

  21. Havva August 11, 2014 at 1:37 pm #

    @ Jill,
    Most states don’t have statutory guidance on what age they consider okay to leave home alone. But CPS or DCFS in many areas put out guidelines. You can usually find them by searching for the county name and “child supervision guidelines” or “Home alone” Where there are no published guidelines things can get weird. DC for instance publishes no guidelines and the city schools hand out bus passes to any elementary age kid because they don’t have school buses. Most extreme case I’ve heard of 6 year old commuting cross town on public transit to get to her magnet school everyday. There are lots of young kids walking around with backpacks on a typical school day. But at the same time you have parents getting arrested because a 6&7 year old left their yard without permission…
    http://www.freerangekids.com/page/13/
    I suspect the police (and people who call the police) are stricter in the fancier neighborhoods.

  22. John August 11, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    @Steve

    Quote: “Shouldn’t everybody be wearing helmets and body armor just in case?
    (and of course it must be the right helmets and body armor)”

    You’re not far from reality here Steve. Somebody had told me that they read an article pushing for a law that all youth soccer kids be required to wear helmets. No kidding! I couldn’t verify the accuracy of this claim but the way we Americans bubble-wrap our kids, I certainly wouldn’t doubt it. The Europeans would be laughing their butts off at us wimpy Americans!

  23. Havva August 11, 2014 at 2:03 pm #

    @ heather,
    At what age does CPS in your area think it is okay for a kid to be home alone for a little bit? And what do they base it on?

    From the cases I’ve looked up (not including the jurisdictions with no guidelines) there seem to be two prevailing schools of thought. States that based the home alone age on babysitting age and decided that if you can’t babysit before you are 12, you can’t be home alone until you are 12. (Though I can’t imagine handing my kid over to someone who had never even taken care of him/herself before). Then there are the counties/states that did some sort of psychological study and decided that varying ages (most of them 8) can be home alone for a while.

    Seems like someone could fight the 11 year old = toddler states with the state/county hired psychologists of the multiple jurisdictions that decided 8 years old was just fine. Though that still leaves the question of walking from one supervised location to another or going to the neighborhood park with a friend or sibling while a parent is still at home and accessible that really should be possible before a kid gains the skills to handle it all solo (aka stay home alone).

  24. John August 11, 2014 at 2:07 pm #

    @Donna….yes, that’s what I’m basically saying. The parents need to do a risk assessment and in the case of uncle Jon, by giving him the benefit of the doubt, they’ve basically decided that based on the type of “sexual” offense he was arrested for (getting drunk and peeing on a garbage can when he was a college student), the likelihood of him molesting their son (based on that) is extremely low even though the consequence of him molesting their son would of course be extremely high (for the parents and the kid). But in this case, the extremely low likelihood outweighs the extremely high consequence, in the parents’ viewpoint, so they’re willing to take that risk. I personally would too if I were them.

    The likelihood/consequence risk assessment is something we all have done at some point in our lives whether we realize it or not and have based our decisions on the results of that assessment.

  25. Glen August 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    I would have hired her for her blatant honesty alone and her courage to apply even with this ridiculous charge. Being a part of the system, I have come to believe decisions are made by officials not for what is best for the family/kids, but in an effort to CYA. If they don’t do SOMETHING, they worry about getting in trouble, being sued, or losing their job. I have seen a lot. My kids, when we have to leave them home alone due to illness, are instructed not to answer the phone or answer the door. In school, they have been taught not to talk to a police officer or school official without us being present, no matter what. Further, I advise parents not to allow CSB into their house without a warrant, even when they have a police officer with them. Lastly, although lawyers have created this litigious society we must all now navigate, do not talk to the authorities without a lawyer present. The prosecutor doesn’t always do the right thing, and if he can score political points by being a fighter for children, he will do it at your expense.

  26. Wondering August 11, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Someone else mentioned this, but I’m wondering if Lenore would be arrested now if she let her 9 year old ride the subway alone to school, as opposed to only being called “the worst mom in America”?

    I would be interested to know if the incidences of parents being arrested on these kinds of silly charges is actually higher or if it’s my perception from regularly reading this blog. Does anyone have any stats that would show the trends?

    Has society really moved the dial so far that we’re spending time prosecuting good parents for making what seem like reasonable decisions?

    The answer seems to be yes, but I’m hoping it’s mostly a matter of Free Range Kids bias…

  27. Maria August 11, 2014 at 3:14 pm #

    Why would you hire a nanny with a felony charge? How can you be sure that she is telling you the truth? I mean I understand that the we are overly cautious in today’s world, to the point of being absurd. But a felony charge for child endangerment. I don’t think so. Is there no other nanny that can do this job? Sorry, stupid decisions to leave a sick 10 year old alone; a healthy one maybe. Further, why didn’t she call the school and tell them her son would be out today? Seems like a big part of the story is missing here

  28. Jill August 11, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

    @Maria…It’s important to remember that an ARREST is not the same as a CONVICTION, first of all. Plenty of people get arrested for felonies but are not found guilty in a court of law.

    Second, a felony isn’t just a felony. An employer (even a family hiring a nanny) must evaluate a) whether the felonious activity will impact their ability to do the job, b) how serious the offense was, and c) the length of time between the felony and the job application.

    Employers who disregard a candidate *just because* they happen to have a felony on their record may find themselves in hot water for discrimination.

  29. Andy August 11, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    It is kind of off-topic, but someone guilty of indecent exposure, even if it was really intentionally showing his private parts to ladies, is not more likely to molest your child. Pedophilia and getting kick of showing yourself are not related. You child is as likely to be molested by indecently exposed uncle as by anyone else.

    Although that uncle might have some deficiencies in the “thinking ahead about consequences” department and might have the tendency do make less then responsible decisions, so one might rule him out anyway.

  30. krolik August 11, 2014 at 4:24 pm #

    I would not hire this nanny without doing a very careful investigation into the details of her case, which would likely involve a lot of time and effort on my part. The truth is, I am not even sure where to start, since publicly available records are unlikely to provide enough detail, and the officials involved may not be readily available to interview. And even if I did get someone on the phone to corroborate her story, I might still be left wondering if there is something about it I don’t know. In practice, this means that unless I had no other prospective candidates, or there was something about her that made me instantly feel like she is a hundred times better than any other nanny I have interviewed or will likely interview in the future, I would not hire her.

  31. Warren August 11, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

    Maria,
    What part of the neighbor being involved, and it only being a half an hour or so, did you not understand?

    Secondly, sick does not mean so ill that they are one step away from the ER.

  32. Andy August 11, 2014 at 5:18 pm #

    “Sorry, stupid decisions to leave a sick 10 year old alone; a healthy one maybe.”

    Why? I through leaving 10 years old alone for couple of hours is ok. Sick at that age often means mild virus or kind of cold, so you do not want him to spread it to other kids or walk it through (cause that may have consequences for future health) or simply suffer bad stomach there. It does not necessary mean grave danger and can get better in two days.

    “Further, why didn’t she call the school and tell them her son would be out today?”

    Might be different where you live, but we did not used to call to school we are sick for one day. The kid was missing and brought in confirmation paper from doctor or parent afterwards. You would call if it looked like being away for the whole week or so.

  33. E August 11, 2014 at 5:40 pm #

    @Jill — is that really true about choosing not to hire felons? I don’t own my own business and I’m not responsible for hiring, but does an employer have to worry about that? They have to go thru the burden (time/money) to investigate a candidate’s charges in order to comply with anti-discrimination laws? And is there a formula that would apply so they could arrive at a “correct” interpretation of their risk?

    Are felons a protected class?

  34. Donna August 11, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

    “Employers who disregard a candidate *just because* they happen to have a felony on their record may find themselves in hot water for discrimination.”

    That is not even remotely true. Felons are far from a protected class. In fact, they lose many of their rights – even constitutional ones like voting and gun ownership – the second that they are convicted. Felons are denied jobs all the time for no reason other than they are convicted felons and there is no legal recourse.

  35. SteveS August 11, 2014 at 6:30 pm #

    I would say that I might hire a person with a felony on their record, but it would depend on the crime, when it happened, and if there was anything else on their record. I would also want to verify the details as to what happened.

    I don’t know where this person lives, but they may benefit from having their record expunged.

  36. Warren August 11, 2014 at 9:37 pm #

    And as long as employers continue to refuse to hire on the basis of a criminal record, and that being the only disqualification, a lot of people will never get a fighting chance to turn their lives around. Thus prevented from becoming a contributing member of soceity.

    Donna, is that true, a convict cannot vote after being released? That’s horse manure.

  37. Maria August 11, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    @Andy and @Jill: First off she was charged, second, according to the law she endangered the welfare of her child. I don’t make the laws, but allowing her to get off for only opens the door for allowing another person whose child get hurt to get off. If you want to hire someone to watch your kid who leaves her own kids alone, then go ahead, but I wouldn’t. And @Jill, no one would chide a parent for not hiring a nanny who has left her own kid alone.

  38. SteveS August 11, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    Warren, it depends on the state. Only eleven permanently restrict felons from voting. Most states restore voting rights when the person completed their incarceration, parole, and probation. Federal law prohibits felons from owning firearms. The only other restriction in my state is that felons cannot serve on a jury.

    I agree that they face huge barriers in terms of employment. There are also numerous studies that show that this lack of being able to get decent employment contributes to recidivism.

  39. Maria August 11, 2014 at 10:24 pm #

    @warren: The neighbor was not in the house. The neighbor only knew the kid was alone. Whatever, if you think it’s okay to leave a sick kid alone, then go ahead, but I wouldn’t hire someone to watch my kid who couldn’t logistically figure out how to watch her own. Why didn’t the neighbor come over?

  40. Scott August 11, 2014 at 10:43 pm #

    Friend of mine had her summer nanny call and tell her that she “made a mistake” and “lost her licence”. Her response was “Can you get here?” Nanny say “yes”. The kids spent the summer taking the bus around town and loved it.

  41. Warren August 12, 2014 at 12:34 am #

    Maria,

    Well obviously you do not understand that there are many different degrees of sick. In this day and age, your kid sneezes more than once in a day, and the school is calling you to pick them up.

    And it seems fairly obvious that this nanny/mom didn’t believe her child to be so sick that he was in danger of stroking out, going into respritory arrest, shock, heart attack or anything else.
    And why did the neighbor have to come over?
    Can you overreact or be anymore dramatic?

    Come to think of it, I can remember being “sick” at that age, lying on the couch, watching reruns of Gilligans Island, Lost in Space and such, while both parents were at work. A little upset stomach, was enough to avoid school, but not call the paramedics about.

  42. Tara August 12, 2014 at 12:58 am #

    The commentator going by the name J makes a valid point. Can the parent be charged with child endangerment for knowing leaving child in the care of someone with a felony child endangerment? Assuming the prospective nanny’s story is accurate, a court found her guilty of child endangerment for something my mother did when I was young. Whether or not it was right to do so or whether or not the child gets hurt or stuck in a perceived dangerous situation in which the authorities find out about the nanny’s felony, some mandated reporter could raise the concern to the authorities and the parents could find themselves in the same situation as the nanny.
    In a world where the system is prosecuting for the possibility, would I be willing to risk charges and losing my children to hire someone because I think the whole situation is ridiculous. Most likely I wouldn’t. That is why I no longer allow my 7 yr old ride in the car without a booster seat. Despite her age and weight she is about 3 inches to short for the state. Even though she is annoyed by the situation and gets mad at me, I don’t want to risk some pain in the tush by-stander reporting me.
    And in her own words “this sucks”.

  43. Andy August 12, 2014 at 4:38 am #

    @Maria “First off she was charged, second, according to the law she endangered the welfare of her child.”

    Being charged does not equal being guilty. I do not know whether she was charged or convicted, but there is big difference between those two. Charged but not convinced should amount to nothing essential.

    Whether “endangering the welfare of child” according to law means something or not depends on the law. We need laws and law enforcement, but not all laws are equally reasonable. If leaving 10 years old alone for two hours counts as endangering, then that part of law is not worthy of any respect (fear yes, but not the respect).

    “allowing her to get off for only opens the door for allowing another person whose child get hurt to get off.”

    It is better to let ten innocent persons suffer then one guilty escape?

    Reminds me people who defended sex offender list placement for someone peeing where he is not supposed to, because person guilty of indecent exposure might plead the charge down to peeing in public and escape the list. Same kind of logic and unfairness.

  44. Donna August 12, 2014 at 7:16 am #

    Warren, as SteveS said, the right to vote is returned upon the end of sentence in most states. However, that is the end of the FULL sentence, not just incarceration. I regularly have people sentenced to 10 – 20 years of probation for a first offense. And not even particularly horrific offenses. Drug possession (although that has thankfully changed in my state recently). Burglary of a shed or falling down building. Sex with an underage girlfriend. Most serve very little, if any, time in jail, and yet, cannot vote for many years afterwards.

    You also lose the right to hold office, the right to be a notary, the right to serve on a jury, and in many instances the right to be licensed by the state. These rights can also be restored upon completion of your sentence, but it is not automatic (you have to petition for it).

    The right to own a firearm is never restored, and, in my state, not limited to felony convictions. You also are going to have an uphill battle to obtain licenses such as the right to practice law or medicine, even if your rights have been restored as those have moral requirements.

  45. Donna August 12, 2014 at 8:28 am #

    @ Jill and Andy – From reading the letter, I would assume that the potential nanny is CONVICTED and not just charged. She references having a “record.” That usually means conviction and not just an arrest.

  46. Warren August 12, 2014 at 8:47 am #

    Donna,
    Some of that is unreal. I understand the whole until the sentence if fully complete, but to lose all those things even after you have done your time, that is excessive.

    In other words, yes you can screw up, yes you do the crime you will do the time, but we are going to stick it to you for the rest of your life as well.

  47. Hillary J August 12, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    As a nanny (without this applicant’s record or children of my own, yet), I would trust her and hire her provided her story checks out. I will freely admit that I supervise my charges more closely than I would my own children. This is simply because my paycheck depends on it. I am paid to hover and prevent harm. Granted, I do not hover to the extent most parents do, but I am outside when they go outside and I’m in the playroom when they are. I am a bit more hands off, usually reading while eavesdropping on their play, but I am within sight and alert to stepping in preventing sibling squabbles from becoming physical. With my own kids, squabbles will be worked out between themselves even if it comes to blows, but I don’t set the rules on this house. I’m just here to enforce, keep the peace (keep the kids in one piece each), and make lunch.

  48. Mike in Virginia August 12, 2014 at 9:35 am #

    I used to be concerned about the “cry wolf” syndrome that society was heading for with all of these crazy laws to “protect the children.” That is, it would reach a point where so many people are on the sex offender registry that shouldn’t be, and so many people were being convicted of non-crimes, that we just start ignoring all criminals because we can no longer tell the serious from the BS. I am not longer concerned we are heading there. We went there a long time ago. Today, if someone told me they have a criminal record, I would probably just sympathize with them and assume they didn’t deserve it.

  49. Donna August 12, 2014 at 9:47 am #

    Warren – I will also add that most of my clients do not understand that their right to vote is returned to them at the end of their sentence – that all they have to do is go register to vote. Nor do they have any idea that they can petition to get many of their other rights back. So, effectively, they are barred from voting for life.

    But even the loss of voting power until the end of your sentence is only reasonable if you give reasonable sentences. 10, 15, 20 years of not voting for stupid stuff is ridiculous. Imagine being 17 (legal adult for criminal purposes in my state) year old high school senior sowing some wild oats with questionable friends one night who breaks into a business with nobody working. Totally stupid. You get a 20 year probation sentence (standard in my jurisdiction for a 1st burglary). Your sentence is pretty much over within 2-3 years – you no longer have to report to probation or do anything other than stay out of trouble. But you are almost 40 before you can vote for the 1st time.

  50. Warren August 12, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Donna,
    Even the lifetime ban on gun ownership is over the top. I could understand if you were convicted of a crime in which a firearm was used, stolen, sold or involved in anyway… but other than that it seems excessive.

  51. SKL August 12, 2014 at 1:28 pm #

    I would not do a background check (without some reason for suspicion), so for all I know, maybe I did hire a nanny with a felony record.

    This lady came forward with the info voluntarily. I admit, I might be suspicious that she had done something worse and wanted to head off the outcome if I did a background check. There is really no way to know all sides of the story. So I would have to go on my gut. I would not automatically disqualify her for the job based on the info provided.

  52. Donna August 12, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Warren – I agree. Unless you committed a violent felony, I don’t see a reason why you should be banned from owning a gun forever. As much as I am not personally a gun fan, hunting is how many of my rural clients feed their families.

    My state does have a first offender classification that you can opt into that allows you to get the right to own a gun back at the end of your sentence. There are some drawbacks to using it and you can only do it once. Great if you really only commit one crime in your life. Not helpful if you do a few dumb things in your youth, but then grow up and get on with life properly.

    The American attitude toward criminals and the poor (which are frequently one and the same for many of the same reasons) needs some serious adjustment, but I don’t see it happening any time soon.

  53. Suze August 12, 2014 at 4:34 pm #

    This is sad. When my son was 10, was when my husband and I started leaving him alone for (at first) not long periods of time… and to TEACH him to handle himself at home, alone. He loved it. It was a huge step to independence which he was more than ready for. We left him for probably 20 minutes and we walked up to the coffee shop a few blocks up from our home, picked up a coffee and walked home. I shutter at the thought that some nosy neighbour would dare think this is endangering a child and call the authorities on us. Luckily, no neighbour thought that in the least. So, all free-rangers move to my ‘hood. No one will tar and feather you for teaching your child some independence.

  54. Bob Davis August 12, 2014 at 5:58 pm #

    The whole discussion of “felony” reminds me of a case down in San Diego CA many years ago when a local politician was convicted of election-law violations. He spent some time in the slammer, and when he was released, was hired by one of the local radio stations as a commentator. A rival station was “shocked!” that their competitor had hired a “convicted felon” and let him speak “on the air”. This got me to thinking–there are felonies and there are FELONIES. The only likely victim of election law violations are other politicians. How about the voters? When we have elections where less than half the eligible voters cast ballots, it’s hard to think of much harm being done to the voters. “Real” FELONIES are crimes like murder, arson, robbery, mayhem, rape and residential burglary, in which real people, not an amorphous “electorate” are harmed.

  55. Warren August 12, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    Agree with the degrees of felonies. Except murder. Personally I would have no problem hiring or working with someone that was convicted of murder, or manslaughter. Those crimes are usually a one off, never to be repeated.

  56. baby-paramedic August 13, 2014 at 12:53 am #

    I was around the same age when my Mother left me at home whilst I was sick to pick up the younger siblings from school. This was the first time I can recall that happening, usually she had a grandparent or the like come keep an eye on things (I was the eldest, by the time the youngest started to grow up, there was much less paranoia).

    Anyway, the unexpected DID happen.

    The house was on the market, and a real estate agent showed up unannounced with people to show through (the days of pre-mobile phones. They had called the homephone, and I hadn’t answered).

    Anyway, I become aware of strange voices in the house so I promptly hide myself. Seemed like the logical thing to do really. I was pretty sure it was a kidnapper coming to get me, or a burglar, or whatever other things a 9 or 10 year old can dream up.

    So, I stayed hidden, Mother came home, I re-emerged. Even as a sick kid I could figure out how to best look after myself.

  57. Andy August 13, 2014 at 3:56 am #

    @Bob Davis When politician breaks election-laws, it is democracy who suffers. It is not harmless, do enough of it say bye to freedom and democracy. Big enough election violation harms more people then unarmed robbery.

    That being said, I support felons getting jobs. It is better for everyone if they can get jobs.

  58. Donna August 13, 2014 at 8:03 am #

    “Personally I would have no problem hiring or working with someone that was convicted of murder, or manslaughter. Those crimes are usually a one off, never to be repeated.”

    Sometimes, yes. Often times, no. Our murderers run the gambit from a sweet, young mother who succeeded at the murder portion or her murder/suicide plan, but failed at the suicide to several psychopaths who may not kill again (most psychopaths don’t kill) but certainly will if the right circumstances arise and will always be psychopaths.

  59. SteveS August 13, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    The lifetime gun bans are ridiculous. In the past, there were provisions in the law to petition the BATFE to have your gun rights restored. I have had clients that were able to obtain this relief. Unfortunately, Congress stop funding this program in the early 1990’s, so felons are out of luck if they ever want to buy a gun for protection, target shooting, or any other reason.

    I can understand losing some rights for certain felons, but it shouldn’t be across the board, but rather on a case by case basis. There should also be a way to petition for restoration.

  60. Dressler August 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Wow. Wow! So interesting. This just doesn’t…seem…sensible. A 10-year-old can definitely stay home alone.

    This particular nanny seems perfectly fine. I did notice that a few other commenters expressed the desire to check out her story from another source, and I second that…just because the word “felony” definitely sets off alarm bells. I would want to make sure that the story she told really WAS the truth, and there weren’t any other complications.

    What a world.