This sad story is getting a lot of attention, which is great. A 24-year-old Youngstown, Ohio, mom was working her shift at a pizza parlor when someone alerted the cops to her kids, unsupervised, in their hotel room. When the cops knocked, the 10-year-old explained their mother would be home by 10. The cops then went and arrested the mom. She was thrown in jail.
Basically…for being poor.
Over at Let Grow I discuss the case, but I’d also highly recommend reading this piece by Let Grow’s legal consultant, Diane Redleaf, asking the authorities to stop mistaking poverty for neglect. She mentions one particular case where the kids were removed from a family:
Take, for instance, Norman v. Johnson, a federal class action I worked on from 1989 until 1996. The suit challenged the Illinois’ removal of children from parents for reasons of poverty (homelessness, lack of food) and its simultaneous demand that, in order to get the children returned, the parents needed to get two- or three-bedroom apartments and prove they could “adequately support” their kids. In other words, the courts were ordering parents to stop being poor.
Let Grow is supporting bills in five states that would narrow the definition of neglect to parents who show blatant disregard for their children’s safety. Not parents who take their eyes off their kids because they want them to go Free-Range, nor those who have to work at the pizza place and are juggling as best they can.
And if you’re wondering about your own state’s neglect laws, Let Grow has compiled a map of them. Click here.