Friday, May 30, 2008

400 children harmed by the Texas government.

GOOD MORNING FLINT! BY Terry Bankert 5/29/08
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REFLECTIONS: The State actors we rely on to protect children can harm them. To read more from the perspective of parents caught up in child protective proceeding see:[trb]

400 LITTLE LIVES SHATTERED! The Texas Supreme Court ruled Thursday that more than 400 children taken from a polygamist sect's ranch nearly two months ago should be returned to their parents, saying child welfare officials overstepped their authority.[d] The decision was issued in response to an appeal by the state Child Protective Services (CPS) of the April ruling of Austin's Third Court of Appeals against state custody of the children from a Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) ranch. The appellate court had ruled that evidence was inadequate to prove that the children were in danger of sexual abuse. [A] When a Texas court ruled last week that state child welfare authorities were wrong to seize more than 440 children from a polygamist sect, it certainly wasn't the first case in which welfare officials were accused of overstepping their bounds. Sadly, it probably also won't be the last, either.[t]

THIS CASE IS ABOUT RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION AND THE HYPOCRISY IN AMERICAN GOVERNMENT Just hours before the ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a friend-of-the-court brief siding with the FLDS mothers, expressing concern that Texas was targeting a religious culture. A Dallas child-abuse lawyer filed her own brief supporting Texas.[des] The results of DNA testing to determine family relationships are also expected back today or next week, the Texas Attorney General's Office said. A criminal investigation remains under way, with Tom Green County prosecutors saying they are considering a number of options — including a bigamy prosecution. Jessop called it a "war on religion."[DES]

CPS WORKERS WITH TOO MUCH POWER, TO LITTLE ACCOUNTABILITY MAKE BAD CALL The court affirmed an appeals court decision last week that said Child Protective Services failed to show an immediate danger to the children living on the Yearning For Zion Ranch.[d]

A MICHIGAN EXAMPLE OF CPS ABUSE ON A FAMILY..DO NOT THINK THIS CANNOT HAPPEN TO YOU! The Texas case brought to mind an incident in April in which a man temporarily lost custody of his son for buying him a lemonade at a baseball game.[T] Maybe you've heard this one. If not, the incident involved a University of Michigan professor of archaeology who was watching a Detroit Tigers game with his 7-year-old son when the boy asked for something to drink.[T] The professor, Christopher Ratte, went to a concession stand and asked for a lemonade. He received a product known as Mike's Hard Lemonade, which contains alcohol.[T] Ratte said he didn't know he'd purchased what amounted to a mixed drink, and there's been no evidence to suggest he was lying. Seems he spends more time reading books and visiting archaeological sites overseas than watching TV commercials touting alcoholic beverages.[T] But after Ratte gave the drink to his son, a security guard saw the boy drinking it and called the police.[T] This is where the story gets particularly disturbing. Because even though a police officer who interviewed Ratte thought the professor made an honest mistake, the welfare system kicked into gear and common sense went out the window.[T] Following protocol, the officer's supervisor insisted that the case be turned over to Child Protective Services. The welfare authorities who were assigned to the case took custody of the boy even though they apparently agreed with the police officer that Ratte didn't do anything intentionally wrong.[T] Again, it was a matter of protocol. But it led to a series of events that included the boy being taken away from his parents for a day and a half, then being allowed to go back home only on condition that Ratte stay somewhere else. Finally, after about three days, the family was reunited.[T] Granted, Ratte made a mistake. But was his error so terrible that he had to face the awful possibility of losing his child over it? Seems like few people in the system thought so, but the system itself wasn't able to draw a distinction between an accident and an intentional case of harming a minor.[T]

THE JUDGE WAS WRONG, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN..... The Texas Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that it was an abuse of judicial discretion to take hundreds of children in what has become the nation's largest-ever child custody case.[des]

A CALVARY OF LAWYERS TO THE RESCUE...GO BROTHERS AND SISTERS, GOOD JOB! Lawyers for dozens of FLDS mothers challenged the court's decision. The 3rd Court of Appeals sided with the mothers, saying that the state failed to show the children were in immediate danger and ordered them to be returned to their mothers immediately. Texas child welfare officials appealed, saying the children were in danger of abuse in a culture that groomed little girls to become child brides and boys would grow up to become sexual perpetrators.[DES]

CHILDREN TO BE RETURNED, WHAT HARM TO THE CHILDREN HAS BEEN CAUSED BY THE STATE The ruling directs a lower-court judge to reverse her decision putting the children into foster case. The appeals court ordered the children returned to the parents, but it's not clear when that will happen.[d] "End this nightmare and end this torture that they're putting these families through," he said Thursday. "These children have suffered enough at the hands of the state of Texas. It is time for the children to come home."[DES] "There has been a catastrophic, physical and emotional trauma to these families, permanent damage that will be left on them for a lifetime. Two wrongs do not make a right and this court has an ability to load these children up and return them to the families and I can assure you we can figure out who mothers and fathers are," said the FLDS member.[W] "One of the clear messages from the court is that CPS has got to stop treating these people as a crowd," he said. "The clear message from the court is it's time for these kids to go home now."[DES] A polygamist sect elder says parents are excited about a state Supreme Court decision today but will remain apprehensive until they get their children back.[K]

ONE PROBLEM IN CHILD PROTECTIVE PROCEEDINGS (cps)IS THAT CHILDREN ARE TAKEN TOO QUICKLY In its ruling, the high court said that state law gave the lower court broad authority to protect children "short of separating them from their parents and placing them in foster care," including removing the alleged perpetrators from the home and preventing the removal of a child from the jurisdiction of the investigating agency[DES] CPS is a bureaucracy filled with over worked undertrained poorly supervised good people who on occasions such as this do harm to children. What can be learned here? We should look at the protocols in all states are we taking children too quickly from the home? Yes is my answer. Does our system of child helper on occasion become child harmerS? Yes. Has American given too much unchecked power to the agents of a state government who some times are private contract worker? Yes is my answer.[trb]

Posted here by Terry Bankert ... 5/29/08
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—WHERE DID THIS STUFF COME FROM-- [DES] Deseret News,5143,700230321,00.html [d] Detroit Free Press [T] Topeka Capitol Journal [W] WBKO [K] WKDBC [TRB] Comments of Terry Bankert to include CAP headlines [A] AHN 58170

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