Of the many cesspools of the criminal justice system, none is more troubling than what becomes of the children of parents deemed unfit for having engaged in crime, even if the same conduct isn’t a crime elsewhere. But the wounds that come from taking children from parents who cared for them with love because of state paternalism are rarely seen, and so the cesspool continues to fester because it all seems to make sense in theory.
The fear is obvious. A parent arrested for smoking marijuana in a state where pot remains a heinous crime, as opposed to those states where pot is now an acceptable thing to do, can’t be trusted to be a safe parent. After all, if the child was harmed, then all hell would break loose and the state would be excoriated for leaving the child in such a dangerous home run by criminals. They can’t have that, so the theory is that it’s better to remove the child from the evil parents’ home.
Except when the state removes a child from the parents’ home, the child has to go somewhere. So the state created another fiction, that foster homes would be better, safer places. But then there is the question of venal people who take in children for the money paid by the state for their care, but who really aren’t loving people and who really don’t have a safe home for children the state has ripped away.
But that can be fixed by doing background checks on potential foster parents, thus assuring that while they may be less than loving, at least they will be safe. After all, the state distinguishes good and bad by whether people adhere to the state’s rules, so if the foster parent hasn’t violated the state’s rules like the loving but evil parents did, then they are, by the state’s definition, safe for the child.
Yet someone has to determine that there has been no rule breaking by the potential foster parents, so the state offers to pay businesses to do background checks to make sure they aren’t rule breakers who fail to fit the state’s concept of a safe home for a child. And the businesses that contract to do so are, well, businesses, and they exist to get paid rather than make sure that a child is placed in a loving and safe environment. Businesses have a greater tolerance for failure, because nobody’s perfect, you know. Businesses have no tolerance for not getting paid. But if they fail to fulfill their mandate, they can always issue a refund. That’s how businesses function.
Joshua Hill was a bad parent according the State of Texas. After he put his 2-year-old daughter, Alexandra to sleep, he would smoke some dope. The state was outraged and took Alex away from him.
Hill admits they were smoking pot when their daughter was asleep.
“We never hurt our daughter. She was never sick, she was never in the hospital, and she never had any issues until she went into state care.”
But the state didn’t care that Hill loved his daughter and took good care of her. The state only cared that he was an evil pot-smoker, and that was against the rules. So the state whisked Alex away from her parents, from her home, and put her into the safe environment of foster care.
For two months, Alex was placed in a home that Hill says was dangerous.
“She would come to visitation with bruises on her, and mold and mildew in her bag. It got to a point where I actually told CPS that they would have to have me arrested because I wouldn’t let her go back.”
But the state is not unfeeling, and moved Alex to a new foster home, one that would be safe. They knew so because the new foster parent, Sherill Small of Rockdale, had been thoroughly checked out by the state’s contractor, and they found no evidence that Small broke the rules.
Hill got the call Monday night that his daughter was in a Temple hospital.
“They wouldn’t tell me what condition she was in or what was wrong or what had happened. The only thing they would tell me is I needed to be there. When I got there, I found out that Alex was in a coma.”
For two days, they held out hope she would regain consciousness but on Wednesday night Alex was taken off life support.
Police explained that Small’s explanation of what happened didn’t match Alex’s injuries, and have charged Small with Alex’s murder. What the injuries matched was a toddler beaten to death.
On paper, the system worked exactly as intended, as mistakes were understood to happen and the state was capable of fixing them to make sure that no child would be harmed. Every precaution was taken, and they had all the cogs aligned. And yet Alex is dead and Joshua Hill will never again hold the daughter taken away from him by the State of Texas for her own safety.
H/T Jonathan Turley