Human Decency: Over $60,000 Raised for Homeless Mom Who Left Kids in Car During Job Interview

Readers — A few weeks back a mom in Arizona, yes, hot Arizona, left her kids in the car when she went in to a job interview. This was clearly not the greatest thing to do, but for her, at the moment, it seemed like the only option. Without a home to live in or people to help her, she needed a place for her kids to stay while she tried to get a job to lift them all out of that awful situation.

Of course she was arrested for negligence, but instead of public outcry against her, the tide seems to be going the other way, and ,000 iaksdzyzfe
has been raised on her behalf

This is marvelous news. To repeat: No one thinks leaving kids in a hot car for a long stretch is a good idea. It is a bad idea. But when there seems to be no other option and a mom is clearly trying to climb out of that pit of poverty and hopelessness, shoving her back down is not a “teachable moment,” it’s a terrible one. – L.

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79 Responses to Human Decency: Over $60,000 Raised for Homeless Mom Who Left Kids in Car During Job Interview

  1. BL April 21, 2014 at 8:52 am #

    Why didn’t she just hire a full-time governess? Problem solved! (Rolls eyes)

  2. Mike in Virginia April 21, 2014 at 9:19 am #

    Exactly! I have a nanny to take care of my kids. I don’t know what her problem is, but I don’t any sympathy for her.

  3. SKL April 21, 2014 at 9:38 am #

    As a single mom, all I can say is that the community needs to provide more options for single parents to temporarily leave their children in a safe place.

    Homeless shelters are not safe places to leave kids. They can get abducted and killed like the little girl recently in the news. So if you are in a place where you don’t know anyone you trust, you’re pretty much screwed.

    I hope she gets her kids back. What she did wasn’t safe, but there were no good alternatives that she knew of, and IMO there’s shared responsibility there. The kids were endangered, but parting them from their mom forever has many dangers of its own.

  4. Jen (P.) April 21, 2014 at 9:51 am #

    What a ridiculous waste of public resources to prosecute this woman, to say nothing of the trauma it must be causing her and her children. I hope the absurdity of the situation inspires someone to offer her a job so something good can come of it.

    Obviously it’s a bad idea to leave kids in a car in the Arizona desert (although it sounds like it wasn’t that hot that day, and maybe she wouldn’t have done it if the temp had been higher), and as I often tell my kids, the fact that no harm came of your doing something stupid once doesn’t mean you should repeat it. But it sounds like she was doing the best she could in a very difficult situation. I’d rather help her than fault her for it.

  5. anonymous mom April 21, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    While I’m glad the public is supporting her, I wish that stories like this would result in public calls for systematic changes that would make things better for the many families in the same situation, rather than a bunch of people donating money and then never giving any more thought to the problem.

  6. lynn April 21, 2014 at 10:04 am #

    Apparently she wasn’t homeless at the time of this situation. She would have been better to leave them at home…. hot car IS dangerous… especially for an infant. My heart does go out to people in these desperate situations. I don’t see how prosecuting her is “fixing” the underlying problem, though.

  7. Donna April 21, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    I am glad that people are supporting this woman, but my concern with this whole situation is that people will now view leaving kids in a car as something only poor people with no options do and not as something that is a reasonable choice for everyone under the right circumstances.

    This is definitely not a situation where the positive response to this woman is because leaving the children in the car was perfectly safe. The kids were (a) very young, (b) being left for a lengthy period of time, and (c) clearly starting to overheat when removed from the car. The support is because of the lack of options that she had and that she is putting a face on poverty. A good thing, but not something that I really think helps the cause of getting the average person to understand that leaving kids in a car is a perfectly safe viable option under many circumstances. In other words, busybodies are not going to stop calling 911 because there is a kid in the car; they’ll just contribute to your attorney fund when you are arrested afterward.

  8. Donna April 21, 2014 at 10:18 am #

    lynn – Every article I’ve seen about this situation has said that the mother was homeless when this happened.

  9. Kate Berger April 21, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Ok, the next day her real family rallied around her and gave support. Where were they the day she went on her interview….They were close. Could they not have lent her a hand?

  10. Havva April 21, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    I have no doubt that children in homeless shelters are exposed to danger. But, if you are talking about the situation in DC, I would not use that as proof that a child should be left with another mom at a shelter for a few hours. Relisha Rudd’s mother handed her over to Khalil Tatum. She was alive for at least several days after that. And her mother and Tatum worked together to cover for her absence from school for a MONTH. At last the truant system finally determined that something sketchy was up and raised the alarm, sufficient that the local detectives filed the missing person report and did the amber alert over her own mother’s objections. That is not an ordinary situation.

  11. Neil M April 21, 2014 at 11:08 am #

    Isn’t it odd – not to mention sad – that folks are upset that a woman left her kids in the car, but not that those kids are homeless? My goodness…that car could very well be the safest place they have!

    I think those who are ready to stone this woman should check their privilege. I was raised by a single parent, and those people need not sneering judgment but understanding and maybe a hand once in awhile.

  12. Michelle April 21, 2014 at 11:26 am #

    Scottsdale is a suburb of Phoenix, a city of 1.5 million people. The metro area has over 4 million people. It makes me very sad that, in our society, a desperate mother in a big city can’t find anyone to watch her kids while she goes on an interview. There was a time when you could knock on a stranger’s door and ask for help. These days, they’d turn you away and call the police. 🙁

  13. anonymous mom April 21, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    Finding short-term, last-minute childcare is extremely hard. My husband and I have run into this problem a few times, when our work schedules have overlapped because of something like a last-minute meeting, and once we run through our short list of neighborhood friends who might be home during the day and able to watch kids, we’re out of options. One of us has to bring the kids or miss.

    I don’t know what the solution is, but arranging childcare for things like job interviews can be extremely tough, even if you have the resources to pay for a sitter.

  14. lollipoplover April 21, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    What most bothers me is that she was arrested for negligence. With few choices she left two children in a car on a 75 degree day. Not ideal or smart, but not negligence. The fact that she was homeless and at a job interview just makes the prosecution of this woman a waste of public tax dollars that could go to preventing homeless children and providing inexpensive, flexible childcare for low-income families. I hate that the money raised has to go to her legal defense and not to the children for shelter and food. THAT is criminal.

  15. L. C. Burgundy April 21, 2014 at 11:54 am #

    I’d be hard-pressed to describe a circumstance where it was ever acceptable to leave a 6-month-old and a 2-year-old in a car alone for almost an hour in the Arizona sun.

    Homelessness and poverty are very sad, but they don’t make it okay or excusable to endanger your children.

  16. anonymous mom April 21, 2014 at 11:56 am #

    @L.C., that’s true, but extreme poverty and homelessness also endanger her children. This mother didn’t really have any good choices. That’s the problem.

  17. L. C. Burgundy April 21, 2014 at 12:06 pm #

    It’s certainly a shame she didn’t have anyone to leave her kids with for a job interview. I just can’t accept her poverty as an excuse. I think the charges could be dropped, but honestly if she can’t be held responsible for her children’s safety, I don’t see how she can be allowed to keep them.

    I’m always a little disheartened when I see Lenore latch onto cases like these. The facts rarely work out to free-ranging’s benefit. This isn’t free-ranging. It has nothing to do with free-ranging. It’s about a very specific case of poverty, isolation, and child neglect.

  18. SKL April 21, 2014 at 12:57 pm #

    It’s possible that she did not realize the car would get so hot so fast. (And, the kids didn’t actually get that hot, though maybe they would have by the end of the job interview.) We don’t know whether the job interview lasted longer than expected and she really thought her kids were not in danger. We internet junkies are aware of all kinds of information that you might not pick up in many other places.

    The kids weren’t hurt. The news story I read said they were in the car about a half hour on a 75-degree day. *I* would know this was pushing it, but I can’t speak for everyone else.

    No, I don’t think she should lose her kids for one incident. There are all kinds of awful parents out there who have a long history of neglect/abuse/stupid choices and their kids are still with them. If we removed every kid whose parents were caught making 1 documented parenting mistake, where would we put them all?

    That said, I am OK with her being charged with neglect and having to do the usual stuff like attend parenting classes and have her kids monitored. I am not making light of her mistake. I just think she should be given a chance to do better. Her kids deserve to be with their mom. She did NOT do this out of selfishness or meanness.

  19. Andy April 21, 2014 at 1:08 pm #

    @L. C. Burgundy What do you think she was supposed to do?

    Homeless children sounds to me like a horrible thing. I guess I forgot what poverty may mean.

  20. Neil M April 21, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

    So if I read this right, the state of *not having a home* is not excuse for leaving your children in a less-than-ideal situation. What the heck IS an excuse, then?

  21. Donna April 21, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    “(And, the kids didn’t actually get that hot, though maybe they would have by the end of the job interview.)”

    The article I read said that the kids were sweating profusely when they were pulled out of the car, 40 minutes before mom returned to the car. These kids are likely dead by the time mom returns to the car.

    “The news story I read said they were in the car about a half hour on a 75-degree day.”

    Yes, they were in the car about a half an hour before the police got them out of the car, however, Mom didn’t appear for another 40 minutes after that. Mom didn’t know at the 30 minute mark that the kids had been removed from the car so she actually left them in the car for an hour and 10 minutes. It is simply fortuitous that someone intervened on their behalf at the 30 minute mark.

    I don’t think you can discount what happened here with our usual “the kids weren’t hurt.” It is pretty clear that the kids weren’t hurt because someone called 911 and not because this wasn’t dangerous.

    This is a hard case. This case isn’t an affront to the criminal justice system like charging someone who left a kid in the car for 10 minutes would be. Mom left the kids in the car for over an hour and they are likely only not dead because someone intervened at the 30 minute mark. At the same time, charging her doesn’t really accomplish anything and just makes it far more difficult for her to solve the problems that lead to this situation to start with. But at the same time, you could say the exact same thing about most of my criminal clients so she is not unique in that respect.

  22. DairyStateMom April 21, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    @ L.C. Burgundy — I’m so sorry you can’t accept this poor woman’s attempt to do the best she could.

    Do you have the slightest idea how debilitating, how grinding, how desperation-making NOT HAVING A HOME OR ENOUGH MONEY is?! Poverty and homelessness aren’t “excuses” for anything — they are enormous, crippling problems. When all one’s energy and attention have to be dedicated to finding a safe place to sleep every single night, finding enough food for one’s children three (or more! it’s a BABY!) times a day, and finding a way to comfort children long enough so that one can make a phone call to apply for a job, having enough leftover energy to find a safe place to leave two little ones for an hour probably seems like climbing Mt. Everest in cement shoes. (Even if there were safe, affordable and available options in a place this woman could get to, and based on the general state of child care in this country, especially in poor and minority neighborhoods, I’m not optimistic.)

    I don’t disagree that leaving kids in a car (hey, folks, were the windows down? Even partway?) is a lousy choice. But it’s just amazing — for someone who is broke and homeless, ALL the choices are lousy. Moreover, we as a culture (some places more than others, and Arizona being among the worst) have decided, consciously or unconsciously, that the poorest, brownest people are going to continue to have lousy choice after lousy choice.

    So now the state of Arizona in its infinite wisdom is going to make a terrible choice of its own, and do its best to take this woman’s children away and give them to a stranger. These are CHILDREN — they’re not pieces of furniture devoid of feelings. How exactly is the state of Arizona going to explain to them that Mommy is gone and she’s not coming back for them? I’d love to be a fly on the wall for that one — and why do I have the feeling that it’s going to be something along of the lines of “We destroyed your family in order to save it”?

  23. SKL April 21, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    OK, the story I read said that she came out after 40 minutes from the time she went in, not 40 minutes after the half hour that passed before they rescued the kids. I am not sure what the real facts are.

    I still say that it is possible she really did not know that it was that dangerous. Of course she needs to be educated but if she did this out of ignorance vs. selfishness/meanness then she does not deserve to lose her kids. The reason we know that this is dangerous is because it is not that unusual for people to do this *unintentionally.*

    Another thing is that when a business man in a suit leaves kids in a car, oops, he didn’t know. But if a homeless mom does it, she is the worst person in the world. Ignorance is ignorance no matter how spiffy you dress.

  24. Jen (P.) April 21, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

    “At the same time, charging her doesn’t really accomplish anything and just makes it far more difficult for her to solve the problems that lead to this situation to start with. But at the same time, you could say the exact same thing about most of my criminal clients so she is not unique in that respect.”

    ^^^This is what seems so terribly unjust about the situation. Prosecuting her and placing the kids in foster care isn’t likely to make anyone better off. It breaks my heart to see someone who was apparently doing the best she could under difficult circumstances get further kicked in the teeth like that. Don’t get me wrong, if the children were in danger, she’s lucky that someone stepped in and averted a potential tragedy. But prosecuting her is a waste of the state’s resources and makes it even harder for her to get her life on track. It’s a lose-lose.

  25. Bob Cavanaugh April 21, 2014 at 2:25 pm #

    Hmm, especially the way Donna summarized this case reminded me of a similar case a month or so ago around here. I know they were talking about charges in that case, but never heard if they pressed any against the dad. As I understand that one, he dropped off the one child at daycare, but somehow forgot about the other one. He drives to a transit center and takes the bus to work. Fast forward 8 hours and someone calls 911 to report what was going on. Fortunately the baby wasn’t hurt, but it got me thinking, if I noticed a kid in a car, when do I step in if at all? I should mention that it was overcast and mid 50s that day.

  26. Papilio April 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Well, I totally agree this was pure child neglect. The city of Phoenix should be prosecuted for not providing a homeless 2-year-old, 6-month-old and their mom with a safe place to live. Is the USA a rich first world country or what?

  27. Donna April 21, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    “Another thing is that when a business man in a suit leaves kids in a car, oops, he didn’t know. But if a homeless mom does it, she is the worst person in the world. Ignorance is ignorance no matter how spiffy you dress.”

    Apples and oranges. I haven’t heard anyone saying “oops” and not charging a business man for INTENTIONALLY leaving an infant in a car for 40-70 minutes. I’ve heard of several cases where business men accidentally left infants that they forgot were in the car for periods of time and some (less than half) of them are not charged.

    This mother INTENTIONALLY left an infant and toddler in a car for 40-70 minutes. Even if she didn’t understand that the car would heat up like it did – heck even if it had been a cool day and the car didn’t heat up – it would still be considered negligent by most people to INTENTIONALLY leave an infant and a toddler alone anywhere for that period of time.

    Again, I’m not saying that she should be charged or her kids taken away. I just don’t consider this situation as an affront to the criminal justice system or an improper use of CPS. My questions are about what should be the actual purpose of the criminal justice system and not to a belief that the police, CPS and courts did anything wrong here under the current system.

  28. SKL April 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm #

    Well, I think the CPS / courts (whoever) did do something wrong here. They should have charged her with neglect. They did not have to jail her and they did not have to take her children away (other than to have them checked out medically). They should have put her on probation and forced her to take parenting classes and submit to monitoring. They also should have gotten her into a housing situation and helped her to get informed of daycare options that could work for her.

  29. Michelle April 21, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    I agree with Donna. This woman *did* leave her kids in a dangerous situation. It made perfect sense for someone to step in and rescue her kids, and for the police and CPS to get involved. But I think “justice” would be better served by helping her to get better options in the future, and make sure that she’s responsible enough to make better decisions when they are available. I think it would also be wise to investigate, ask her friends and family and others who have seen her parenting, to make sure this was what it looks like — a bad decision in a bad situation — and not part of a pattern of actual negligence.

  30. anonymous mom April 21, 2014 at 4:23 pm #

    I agree that, in this case, calling the police was not an overreaction. The kids WERE in danger. And, the family is in a situation where they could use some support and resources. If our authorities were actually there to help families in need, instead of there to fine people and fill prisons, I’d say that this is exactly the kind of case where the authorities could do some good and should be involved.

    The problem is that so often our legal system and child welfare systems just mete out punishments instead of offering support and resources, even when everybody would be better off if they did the latter.

  31. Michelle April 21, 2014 at 4:43 pm #

    I actually disagree, SKL. If you put your kids in a dangerous situation and they have to be rescued by the police, they *should* take the kids long enough to find out if they’re safe with you. I don’t think she should lose her kids long-term, but there needed to be an investigation to make sure she wasn’t making a habit of leaving them like that. As much as it seems clear that she made a mistake, at that moment the cops couldn’t have known if it was part of a pattern of neglect.

  32. Donna April 21, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    SKL – The police absolutely did have to take her to jail. Did you skip all your criminal procedure classes in law school? That is the way the system works. You commit a crime, you get arrested, you go to jail until you can appear before a magistrate to have a bond set and then you continue to sit in jail until someone pays that bond. You don’t get to commit a crime and then just go home after pinky swearing that you will come to court when told, even if you have a whole truck load of children who are then taken into custody because they can’t just live in the truck by themselves.

    This woman hasn’t been convicted of anything. She wasn’t given a jail sentence that she is serving. It is my understanding that she now has bond and will be getting out soon. Once her case actually goes to court (a year or so from now), she will likely only receive probation and all those other things you want. None of that changes the fact that EVERYONE is taken to jail when they commit a crime and there isn’t a mother exception that allows them to skip the whole bonding out process.

  33. sam April 21, 2014 at 5:35 pm #

    Home in bed isn’t safe, either, folks.

  34. SKL April 21, 2014 at 6:21 pm #

    Donna, sure, they book you and all that, but many people walk out the same day or shortly thereafter. They held this lady in jail even after she had the money for bail. And as far as I know, she still doesn’t have her kids back. How long are they going to keep her kids away from her? That is incredibly damaging. For ONE mistake that we know of.

  35. Andrea April 21, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    Some people still don’t realize the dangers of the desert.

    I grew up in Arizona. Besides not leaving kids in parked cars, you have to be careful when there’s a big thunderstorm. Never ever drive into a flooded underpass, even if you feel pressured by cars behind you or think you can make it. Also, never ever play or go swimming in a flooded culvert, wash, or drainage ditch. Very dangerous, you can get washed away, drown, or injured by debris.

    This was all common knowledge when I was growing up in Arizona. But I later moved to Las Vegas, where most of the residents were transplants, not native desert folk. Sure enough, every time there was a flash flood the news was full of footage of cars swamped in underpasses and kids playing in culverts.

    Not everybody has a constant newsfeed of cultural programming in their lives. There’s a whole underclass of folks just trying to get by every day, who don’t even know who the vice president is. This was a big error this mom made, and thankfully the kids survived it, but criminalizing her ignorance seems the work of a callous culture, not one concerned with lifting struggling people out of their squalor.

  36. Donna April 21, 2014 at 7:30 pm #

    SKL – People who walk out the same day or shortly thereafter have paid their bond. This woman originally didn’t have money for bond and that makes her no different than any of my clients who can’t pay their bond and are stuck in jail. Some of them have kids too and some of those kids will end up in foster care because there is no family to take them in until mom gets out of jail. Some of them are even completely innocent, unlike this woman who is actually guilty.

    There must be more to the story of her release than we are hearing. A jail absolutely cannot hold her if bond has been set and she has money for that bond. To do so is 100% illegal and jails don’t intentionally illegally hold inmates in custody. Heck, each day a person is there costs around $80 so they don’t want you if you can leave. We receive far more calls from the jail asking us to get people out than we give telling them to release people they are illegally holding.

    That means that there must be some valid reason that they are holding her. My first guess would be that she was on probation for something and being arrested violated that probation and now she has to serve out that sentence. Another possibility is the fact that she is homeless. You can’t bond out of jail without an address to send court notices to and if she can’t provide one, they won’t let her go until she can.

    I am not saying that this lady isn’t sympathetic. She absolutely is. I have 50 cases sitting on my desk that are equally sympathetic. She is not remotely unique in the criminal justice system except in the fact that she now has a lot of money to help her that my clients will never get.

  37. Donna April 21, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Andrea – If this woman is so lacking in basic common sense that she doesn’t understand that leaving an infant and a toddler alone ANYWHERE for 40-70 minutes is negligent parenting than she should lose custody of her children until she learns far more about child development because her ignorance makes her a danger to her kids. This isn’t about temperatures or life in the desert. She would have been charged with the exact same crime even if there had been zero chance of the kids roasting to death because leaving children that young alone for that long IS negligent.

    But I do believe that this woman knew that this was inappropriate. She simply couldn’t come up with another option and hoped she’d be able to complete the interview and get back before anyone noticed. I feel for her and this makes it a much more compelling case that she should get to keep her kids than someone who is truly so ignorant that they don’t understand what was wrong here. If she truly understood, but had nothing else to do, taking her kids away is just punishing her and her kids for being poor as there is nothing to learn how to do better. If she truly is that ignorant, she needs to learn better parenting skills before children are left in her care.

  38. Emily April 21, 2014 at 8:12 pm #

    I have a feeling that this woman probably didn’t realize that the job interview would take so long. I’ve had interviews that have lasted five minutes, and I’ve had interviews that have lasted thirty minutes, I’ve had interviews that have lasted around an hour, and one time, I had an interview that went directly from interview, to training, so I was there all afternoon, until I finally had to say, “Hey, I have to go now, my dog needs to go to the vet,” and the guy doing the interview/training (my new boss) wasn’t happy about that, because I Should Have Known. Anyway, I have a feeling that this might have been one of those situations. The people on the phone might have even said it’d take X amount of time, but then the HR person got stuck in another meeting prior to the interview, or something else happened that made it take longer. Leaving an infant and a toddler in a car on a reasonably temperate day, with the windows cracked (75 degrees Fahrenheit is about 24 degrees Celsius, which isn’t THAT hot), seems…..well, not horrible, if it’s for 30 minutes or less, and they’re asleep or entertained somehow, but if things go wrong and it ends up taking longer, then it becomes a problem. We don’t know what was happening inside that building, we don’t know what other options this woman explored before leaving the kids in the car, and honestly, I’m not going to judge, because I think it’s awesome that she was trying to get a job to turn the whole homeless situation around, and ultimately help herself AND her kids. I’m glad others feel the same way, and are helping her.

  39. jeanette April 21, 2014 at 8:33 pm #

    we have similar bru-ha-ha going on here about a mom who left 3 kids in a car. Not too hot, not too cold, just your average “concerned” passerby called the cops. Always amazes me the first thing that comes to mind is to call the cops. Why not wait & ask the parent if they need help? I have been following the story in 2 local papers with polar opposite demographics, and the poorer demographic says no big deal, the other is the location who called the cops. The affluent population wants her to go to jail! Then who will watch her kids? Either mind your own business or help. Calling the cops is rarely going to help.

  40. Gina April 21, 2014 at 9:09 pm #

    I live in Scottsdale, and you have often heard me rant about people leaving kids in hot cars. It is stupid and dangerous and inexcusable…BUT this time, I felt nothing but compassion for this woman who was trying her best to fix her life and the lives of her kids. On the fundraising page, I offered to watch her kids next time she has an interview. She has not replied….but I meant it.

  41. Finda B April 21, 2014 at 9:51 pm #

    While we would all most certainly agree that this mom made a huge error in leaving her kids in the car on a terribly hot day, it is actually good to see that most people can see through this terrible error of judgement and have compassion for a woman who was desperate and simply did not know what else to do. While l am sure no one would accept leaving kids in a car is ok, but we can accept that at times we do the best we can, even when the best is not always right. Once again l am glad that this woman is getting the support she most definitely needs

  42. SKL April 21, 2014 at 10:08 pm #

    “Another possibility is the fact that she is homeless. You can’t bond out of jail without an address to send court notices to and if she can’t provide one, they won’t let her go until she can.”

    Oh great, so effectively one can be incarcerated for homelessness. In the land of the free. Very disturbing.

    I don’t know enough facts either. I am just pissed that a mother didn’t have anyplace she could leave her kids so she could go to a job interview. We have so many programs for stuff people don’t really need. I hope the publicity of this case inspires some better planning in communities. Where I live, there are programs that would have helped this lady get ready for the interview as well as provide quality child care. And there’s a well-advertised help line people can call to get connected with stuff like that.

  43. JP April 21, 2014 at 10:37 pm #

    What shape were the kids in when they were “saved” (an hour later?)
    Was the window cracked?
    Was this mom as capable of assessing the weather conditions as my mom/dad were when I was not a whole lot older?
    75 degrees is not a heat wave.

  44. Floyd Stearns April 21, 2014 at 10:49 pm #

    To: “BL” and “Mike in Virginia”
    Perhaps you should try taking care of you own kids. Hard to tell by your comments if you’re serious or not, but I know of parents like you and, well, good luck when the kids get older. I’ve seen how kids turn out when the parents don’t care.
    This lady did the best she could under the circumstances and I hope she is soon reunited with her children.

  45. Andy April 22, 2014 at 3:07 am #

    @Donna EVERYONE is taken to jail when they commit a crime. You don’t get to commit a crime and then just go home after pinky swearing that you will come to court when told. (Not exact quote)

    Really everyone? Is that everywhere in USA like that? I through that the pinky swearig is what actually happen in most cases.

    I Googled Europe and cops can arrest you only if you are flight risk, there is reason to think you will continue committing crimes or you have been caught during actual crime. Then they can not keep you more then 48 hours before judge decides whether you stay or go – bonds do not exist. If he decides you stay in jail, you can appeal.

    In most non violent cases that ever hit news, suspect was investigated while being free.

  46. Andy April 22, 2014 at 3:18 am #

    @Donna According to your last post, they can hold you in jail longer simply because you are poor and can not afford bond? So, those whos families need income the most are hold in jail longest prior being convicted?

  47. Donna April 22, 2014 at 7:23 am #

    Andy –

    Yes, everyone who is accused of a crime is arrested and taken to jail in the US, unless it is an extremely minor crime that can be covered by a ticket (predominantly traffic violations and violations of city ordinances).

    For some minor crimes – misdemeanors mostly – there is a set bond on record at the jail and the person can bond out immediately without ever seeing a magistrate judge. For most felonies, they have to appear before a magistrate for a bond to be set. This is usually done within 72 hours of arrest. For very serious felonies they have to see a higher level judge for a bond and that can take weeks and months.

    For felonies, the court can deny bond completely and hold you in jail until trial. For misdemeanors, they pretty much have to give a bond, but it need not be a bond that you can make.

    There is the possibility of what is called an OR bond (own recognizance). This is your pinky swear. How often it is used will depend on the jurisdiction. It was done in almost every misdemeanor case in A. Samoa. I’ve only seen it used in Georgia when the arrested person is seriously ill and the jail either can’t or doesn’t want to handle the medical needs.

  48. anonymous mom April 22, 2014 at 8:29 am #

    I do think we need to acknowledge that this woman’s actions did endanger her children. Like, we seem to either want to say, “It’s fine to leave kids alone in the car” or “It’s never okay to leave kids alone in the car,” instead of recognizing that each situation needs to be evaluated.

    I took my kids out for a while last Thursday. First I needed to get some cash at the ATM. I parked at a bank, and left my 9, 4, and 2 year old kids in the car for about 5 minutes while I took out cash. I feel completely okay about that, and I don’t think I endangered them in any way.

    Then we headed to the campus where I work, and spend about 90 minutes in my office, at the library, and then eating lunch. Leaving them in the car, especially the littler ones, while I did that would have been neglectful.

    I do understand that this woman felt that she didn’t have any other options. However, I do find it a bit frustrating that she’s getting all of these donations while homeless moms who do manage to figure out childcare options when they go on job interviews aren’t getting anything, or the impoverished mother who only left her kids in the car for 10 minutes while she ran into the pharmacy to get medicine but had somebody call the police doesn’t get this outpouring of public sympathy. It’s not so much that I begrudge this woman the help she’s getting–obviously she needs it–but I think that allocating resources based on whose news story generates the most sympathy is a very poor way to go about achieving justice.

    Again, I don’t know what options this woman had. I’m assuming the shelter didn’t provide childcare or allow unsupervised children to be there. It may have been a last-minute interview and

  49. anonymous mom April 22, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    Not sure what happened there.

    Anyway, her actions may have been the lesser of two evils in her mind. That’s understandable. But, she did endanger her kids. You can leave a toddler and infant in the car for 5 minutes while you run into a store for milk without endangering them, but you can’t leave them in a car for 30 or 45 or 60 minutes without endangering them, especially on a warm day. I don’t think that prison time or losing her kids is best, but I don’t know how we balance recognizing that–that harsh punishments and the removal of a child from the home should be reserved for only the most serious and egregious cases–with also not just letting genuine child endangerment go. Again, if we had a more therapeutic/rehabilitative/restorative criminal justice and child welfare system, instead of such a punitive one, these things might not be so difficult.

  50. LRH April 22, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    I used to live in a large city in AZ, and I can tell you, based on my experiences anyway, in the large cities like Tucson/Phoenix especially (though this may be the case in any large city in the USA), people are bad about not helping out others even for basic things, and even seem to take PRIDE in that somewhat.

    For instance, my wife’s car once wouldn’t start at her job due to a dead battery, and her co-workers, many of whom she had known for months and would greet her by name daily, wouldn’t give her a jump start even when she produced battery cables. I had to call a friend from way on the other side of town to come get her jumped. People in our own church often-times wouldn’t help with such things if they occurred, and we were not the type to be looking for hand-outs frequently. Once my car wouldn’t start and I had it on the road (it was a residential road, not a major thoroughfare) with the cables already connected. One person offered to push it out of the way when I said “if you jump it, I could drive it out of the way and go to the Autozone and get a new battery for it” (I actually had called Autozone to check & see that they had a battery and was trying to get there to fix the problem). He refused saying “I don’t care about that, I just want you out of the way.” I told him to go shove it.

    I no longer live there, but I & other family visited there last year and provided a jump start to someone disabled at an auto parts store. You know what the person said to us? “I noticed your out-of-state plates, and I figured I had better odds of getting help from you instead of anyone around here.”

    I don’t believe in Good Samaritan laws, but on occasions like those I can see why people think they’re necessary. When we still lived there, one person told me “people here believe in others pulling themselves up by their own bootstraps,” and they take it to this extreme of not providing even basic help not even to someone who’s trying. They should be most ashamed.

  51. Donna April 22, 2014 at 8:36 am #

    “they can hold you in jail longer simply because you are poor and can not afford bond?”

    Yes, they will hold you in jail until you pay bond or resolve your case, whichever comes first.

    “those whos families need income the most are hold in jail longest prior being convicted?”

    Keep in mind that the vast majority of my clients don’t work and will never work more than here or there because they don’t have the skills and/or the drive to actually keep a job (and by “skills” I don’t mean any technical skills, I mean basic skills like an ability to actually show up at work every day and on time). The vast majority of the fathers are not supporting the numerous children they have with numerous mothers and never will. The vast majority of the mothers live on welfare and have no desire to change that.

    For the small number who do work, the criminal justice system is absolutely brutal and life destroying. They work hourly jobs so any time missed from work means a loss of money. Sitting in jail means missed time if they get out very quickly and a lost job if they don’t. Many innocent people plea guilty to get out of jail and back to work because they can’t pay bond. But then, going to probation means missed time. They often must choose between work and probation and almost always choose job, resulting in a cycle of being jailed for probation violations. They have fines they can’t pay because they already can’t afford to take care of their family so they get jailed for probation violations. Being a convicted felon makes it extremely difficult to get a job. Being on probation makes it extremely difficult to move to get another job when you lose yours after being jailed for a probation violation. It is very difficult to get a job with an open criminal charge against you, so even if you are ultimately found not guilty there may be years that you can’t find work to get to that point.

  52. Andy April 22, 2014 at 9:18 am #

    @Donna Ugh. I guess that being poor sux in more then just “can not buy what you need” way.

  53. Donna April 22, 2014 at 10:43 am #

    Andy – Being poor sux in many ways beyond just can’t buy things. I could go on all day for pages and pages about all the ways it sucks to be poor and about the cycle of poverty and how it destroys any chance of the next generation overcoming poverty. Mostly it boils down to – money is options.

  54. CrazyCatLady April 22, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Honestly, I think many of you are missing Lenore’s point.

    Police have discretion. They didn’t HAVE to charge this woman at all. They could have been neighborly, taken the kids out of the car, sat with them while waiting for mother, then talked to the mother to find out what was going on. Once they knew the story, they COULD have helped to get her into a shelter, connected her with services at a church or any number of things. But they didn’t. They charged her with a crime, separated her kids from her, and locked her up. Because she was homeless with few choices.

    What happened to the police being helpers of the community?

  55. Papilio April 22, 2014 at 10:57 am #

    “I no longer live there, but I & other family visited there last year and provided a jump start to someone disabled at an auto parts store. You know what the person said to us? “I noticed your out-of-state plates, and I figured I had better odds of getting help from you instead of anyone around here.””

    I am baffled! What an Fd up place to live.

    And Donna, just *reading* about what it’s like to be a working poor who gets in touch with the criminal justice system makes me sad and angry. It’s so hopeless. (Also yet another way of keeping the poor poor, or in this case more like keeping them in trouble.)
    I’m a bit ashamed to say something like that happens here with fines. You get a fine which you have to pay in x weeks, if you don’t, you get that fine PLUS a fine for not paying in time, and it gets higher after every x weeks. So if you don’t have that money in the first place, you’re screwed, and for now they’re not even willing to let people pay it off by doing community service or even some jailtime. It’s absolutely ridiculous and not helping anyone.

  56. Donna April 22, 2014 at 11:12 am #

    CrazyCatLady – Police officers are not “helpers of the community.” Their job is to enforce the laws of the state, not be social workers.

  57. Papilio April 22, 2014 at 11:13 am #

    …okay, just googled it, and you CAN do time instead of paying the fine, but they only make you do that AFTER all other possibilities to make you pay didn’t work (and then you have to sit for the whole amount, not the original fine). That’s official info anyway, though in a forum I read some experiences of people who did get community service or jailtime options after being questioned about debts and whether they could pay or not, but those people actually had to come to court instead of just getting a not-so-welcomed letter in the mail. Maybe that explains it.

  58. Gina April 22, 2014 at 11:36 am #

    @All Arizona-haters: I have rarely experienced anything but kindness from strangers when I needed help. And, as you may have figured out, I ALWAYS go out of my way to help people who seem to need it. Please, don’t generalize about a place. There is good and bad in every place and in every person.
    I’ve lived all over the country and I wouldn’t live anywhere else but the Valley of the Sun….
    And, again, I would be happy to watch this woman’s kids anytime she needs it. (BTW, I am a professional Nanny and Preschool Teacher).

  59. rdeke April 22, 2014 at 12:33 pm #

    I think this is absolutely absurd she should be charged and her children need to go to the state where they can be taken care of, regardless of race or income you don’t leave children in a car to go attend a job interview, I’m glad she was looking for a job but it’s not societies problem to take care of people that can’t care for themselves or their children.

  60. EricS April 22, 2014 at 12:56 pm #

    Just like the system. Doesn’t provide assistance to people in this situation (and I’m sure there are many), but quick on punishing them for doing what they can of a bad situation. That’s the stupidity and arrogance of society. Especially those of authority, who cannot, and probably will never know what they other side feels like, and what they go through. Making bad situations even worse for people.

    Stupidity at it’s finest.

  61. beowolfe April 22, 2014 at 1:58 pm #

    For BL and Mike in Virginia……please say you’re kidding. I don’t want to believe that you’re so out of touch that you believe what you posted.

  62. sharon April 22, 2014 at 1:59 pm #

    At least the mom was trying to help her family, I know she shouldn’t have left the kids in the car, but she was trying to get them shelter by getting a job. Give her a break she is trying.

  63. CrazyCatLady April 22, 2014 at 2:29 pm #

    Donna, yes, their job is to enforce the law, BUT they are also supposed to help the community. Sorry, that was the expectations that I was raised with. Remember how when you were in grade school you were told to go to a police officer to ask for directions if you got lost? How you were told they are there to HELP?

    And they DO NOT have to charge a person with a crime every time they see something illegal. Like the officer that gave me a warning for the cracked windshield in my older minivan. Or the officers who pour the beer down the drain when they found the underage kids with it (the first time. Yes, that happened some in the community that I grew up in as well.)

    These officers COULD have had a little compassion for a woman trying to do the right thing. That would have been the right thing for them to do on their part. But no, they had to be hard asses about it and put her in jail and take her kids away. Even though they doubtless knew of a church, a program or something that could have helped her out right then. Nothing in that day’s work to be proud of that I can see.

  64. Joseph Boscoe April 22, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    How many of the people in the below comments are homeless with NO One to help with their children. I think that there should be a better awareness for people trying to improve their lives to not be ridiculed for this mistake. God Bless all of us even the one’s who have nothing.

  65. laurie April 22, 2014 at 2:39 pm #

    I still want to know who she thought was going to watch her children while she worked? If she had no babysitter for the interview how was she going to have childcare for the work time? not a very responsible mother. I feel sad for the children but have no sympathy for her sorry

  66. jcr April 22, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

    If one or both the children would have died-would the public be donating to a fund for this “MOM”. Only a poor excuse for a human being would EVER leave her children in such danger. Anyone asked if she’d done this before? Who was going to care for the children if she did get a job? Now she is rolling in money. Hope none of it goes to the baby “sperm donors”. 1st on the agenda-find someone to care for your children & invest in a tubal ligation.

  67. Donna April 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm #

    “BUT they are also supposed to help the community. Sorry, that was the expectations that I was raised with.”

    Just because they are the expectations that you were raised with doesn’t mean that it is actually true or actually reality.

    “Remember how when you were in grade school you were told to go to a police officer to ask for directions if you got lost? How you were told they are there to HELP?”

    Help with directions? Sure. Help with finding your mother if you get separated? Yes. Just like any other government employee would do. Asking the metermaid is equally reasonable. Help with finding you housing and getting you a job? NO! That is a social worker’s job, not a cop’s job. A police officer’s job is to enforce the laws of the state. That is it. Their job is 100% not to help you solve your life problems.

    I get this all the time and it makes me just want to slap people. Weekly I get weepy mothers and wives on the phone asking me to help their son in jail “I didn’t want my son/husband arrested, I just wanted to get him to get help.” Never, ever, ever ever (I cannot put enough evers on there) call the police if you don’t want someone to end up in jail. That is what police are there for – to take criminals to jail.

    “Like the officer that gave me a warning for the cracked windshield in my older minivan. Or the officers who pour the beer down the drain when they found the underage kids with it”

    A cracked windshield and some beer is a HUGE difference from FELONY child endangerment. They are NEVER going to walk away from that.

  68. Amanda April 22, 2014 at 3:30 pm #

    I do understand that she thought leaving them in the car for a job interview was the best option she had at the time. Granted it was a bad call. But as for everyone who is upset that the police and CPS are punishing her you have to consider the precedent they would be setting if they didn’t. Yes she was homeless, yes she was going to a job interview BUT what happens to the next person who leaves a toddler and an infant in a hot car? What if they do it because they are getting their hair done, or watching a movie, or shopping, the danger the children are in remains the same, regardless of the reason behind it.
    If you don’t punish this woman for the basic issue, which is leaving two children locked in a car, simply because she was in a bad situation then how do you punish the next person that does it?

  69. Andy April 22, 2014 at 3:51 pm #

    @CrazyCatLady Cops are neither trained nor equipped for general community help. Some of them may do it on personal basis, but not more likely then employees in any other job. Maybe even less, given what their real work is.

    Neither are cops trained or equipped to decide what is and what is not neglect. From all government institutions that could possibly decide this, cops are probably one of the worsts.

    If you are a kid, asking cop for directions may be a good idea, cops tend to know where is what better then random citizens.

    Cracked windshield or underage drinking are a crimes? At least in here both are in different category. First warrants fine at worst and warning only is still legal punishment (eg law does not require fine). In second case, pub that sold alcohol to teenagers could loose license, no one would be charged with anything.

    Generally speaking, it is not legal for cops to ignore crime. And I doubt they would use such power for social help or similar things. People being what they are and power having effect it has, I would expect such cops to play favorites with groups or to be easier to corrupt.

  70. BL April 22, 2014 at 3:59 pm #

    “For BL and Mike in Virginia……please say you’re kidding.”

    Since my snarky humor has been misunderstood before, I added (Rolls eyes) this time. Isn’t that clear enough?

  71. Mrs. Grunion April 22, 2014 at 9:04 pm #

    There was a crisis nursery in the vicinity that accepts kids 24/7. This lady could have kept her kids safe, avoided an arrest, and maybe even gotten that job if she paid a visit to social services to ask for help or just popped in to the public library and googled.

  72. SOA April 22, 2014 at 9:16 pm #

    I just wish I knew all the details or I can’t really have an opinion on this either way. Like is she one of those mothers that won’t leave her kids with anyone but family or does not trust other people to watch her kids? Or could she really not find anyone willing to watch them? Because I have met people like my friend who won’t let anyone but family watch her kids even people more qualified than her family and so I don’t feel sorry for her when she can’t find a sitter.

    Then you have to wonder did she have these kids knowing she would be a single mother in bad financial situation or did she have them in a decent situation and then became hard up for money afterwards for some reason? I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people that have kids when they have no money and no support system. Its not smart. Its one thing to have kids and then lose a job or your man leave you, but knowing you have no money from the get go and still having them is just not smart and good decision making.

    I do applaud her wanting to find a good job and get off government assistance. For that I think she should be commended. It is just a shame about the rest of it though.

  73. SOA April 22, 2014 at 9:27 pm #

    And I am going to argue the kids are not better off in foster care. In foster care they will have a roof over their heads, food on time in their bellies, go to school regularly, etc. There are some bad foster homes but there are many decent ones too. I am able to say some kids are better off not with their actual parents if their actual parents cannot provide a nice life for them. I would give up my own kids if I could not give them a decent life. I would rather someone else who can give them a decent life take them. Because its not about me. It is about what is best for them.

  74. SKL April 22, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

    SOA, kids need continuity of relationship with their #1 caregiver, preferably the parent who loves them. It cannot be overstated how important it is *for the children* to keep loving families together. There are plenty of ways to get food into a child and a roof over his head. It’s also cheaper for the state if the child is raised by his own mother.

    In this case, of course, there needs to be some investigation / monitoring because the mom made a big mistake. Someone needs to determine whether she has a pattern of neglect, or whether this was just one thing and she thought 75 degrees was cool enough for the kids to be safe in the car. If it turns out that she has a significant pattern of neglect, then maybe the kids need to be removed. Even then, it is going to hurt the kids emotionally and probably mentally (severe trauma of disruption impacts the brain permanently). One only hopes that the benefit outweighs the harm.

  75. CrazyCatLady April 22, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

    Andy, true, a cracked windshield would get a fine. I got a verbal warning, nothing written up.

    And yes, in every state, those under 21 are not allowed to be in possession of alcohol (except with parents in some states.) The store that sold the alcohol could also be in trouble as could the person over 21 who may have sold the beer to the minor.

    I don’t think that the cops having compassion for the mother would be ignoring the “crime.” I think it would be a good use of tax payer money and their time to ensure that this did not happen again. And I call bullsh** to the police not knowing where services are offered. They do. I have worked with police in my job doing drug and alcohol prevention. They know where services are offered because they actually work with the people that offer those services. Just like I did. And I wasn’t the only agency that they worked with.

  76. Donna April 23, 2014 at 8:42 am #

    “I think it would be a good use of tax payer money and their time to ensure that this did not happen again.”

    Again, it isn’t their job. You want to conflate two different positions – cop and social worker. A cop enforces the laws and social worker tries to ensure that you have what is necessary to never do it again. I know both cops and social workers and they are not sitting around all day doing nothing and so desperate for things to do that they need to start doing each others jobs.

    “And I call bullsh** to the police not knowing where services are offered.”

    Of course they know where the services are offered. Getting her into them is simply not what the city pays them to do. It is something that they can choose to do in their own free time, but when on the clock they have to do what the city pays them to do. Just like I have to do what the state pays me to do and not just go of rogue doing whatever the heck I want to do.

    I’m not saying that society couldn’t have designed the cop position to be one part social workers and one part crime stopper. But it didn’t. Social work is 100% NOT what their employers want them to do and, like any employee who actually wants to keep his job and not end up homeless himself, they need to do the job their employers want them to do. The city wants the police force to investigate crimes and enforce the laws, not take on social work responsibilities that it already pays other people to do.

    This isn’t just a matter of not following a stupid rule like not letting a kid in to use the bathroom against policy. Not arresting this woman is completely contrary to their total job description. If you don’t want to arrest women who leave their kids in hot cars for 40-70 minutes, cop is not the job for you.

  77. Jen (P.) April 23, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    @rdeke – “it’s not societies problem to take care of people that can’t care for themselves or their children.” Who exactly do you think is going to care for the kids if they’re removed?

  78. Mrs. Grunion April 23, 2014 at 1:11 pm #

    Apparently she was neither homeless nor unemployed. She listed an address on her court papers and also put down part time employment in her application for a court appointed lawyer. The children were placed with her family members. Also, it was reportedly 100 degrees inside the car, and the children were each wearing two shirts. The little one was covered by a blanket as well. You have been played, people.

  79. Donna April 23, 2014 at 6:34 pm #

    “She listed an address on her court papers and also put down part time employment in her application for a court appointed lawyer”

    As I explained before, she HAS to put an address down on court papers or they won’t let her leave jail. They have to have an address to send notices. They are not going to send deputy around to every place that homeless people hang out to find her and give her a personal invite to come back to court so she needs an address.

    It doesn’t have to be an address where she lives, just an address where she can get mail and it certainly doesn’t need to be an address where she lived BEFORE being arrested. About half my clients somehow manage to change addresses between being arrested and bonding out of jail (occasionally they even decide to share this information with their attorney so that I don’t have to spend weeks hunting them down).

    And it is possible to have a part time job and still be homeless. In fact, I can pretty much guarantee you that a single mother of two WILL be homeless with only a part time job unless it is a damn good job. I assume that she was trying to get a FULL TIME job so that she would not be homeless.