Here is a story that makes me think this whole country is just losing its mind: Mother to face charges for unusual punishment.
What did she do? Make her 10-year old walk to school.
OK, it was 4.5 miles to the school.
Valerie Borders’ son, Nequavian, had his bus privileges suspended because of yelling on the bus. So she made him walk to school since he could not ride.
This did not go over well with the Jonesboro, Arkansas Police department. From the Yahoo story:
“There were a number of things that could have happened to the child,” said Lyle Waterworth, a spokesman for the Jonesboro Police Department. “The child could have been injured, abducted.”
How? How would he have been more likely to be injured than just playing? And abducted? Kids these days are safer than ever. Just read Free-Range Kids.
And here’s the most disgusting thing. She mother was charged with endangering the welfare of a minor in the second degree.
I looked that up for Arkansas. Here it is:
5-27-206. Endangering the welfare of a minor in the second degree.
(a)(1) A person commits the offense of endangering the welfare of a minor in the second degree if he or she knowingly engages in conduct creating a substantial risk of serious harm to the physical or mental welfare of another person known by the person to be a minor.
(2) As used in this section, “serious harm to the physical or mental welfare” means physical or mental injury that causes:
(A) Protracted disfigurement;
(B) Protracted impairment of physical or mental health; or
(C) Loss or protracted impairment of the function of any bodily member or organ.
This is an outrage. Allowing a kid to walk to school (even for that kind of long distance) is knowingly creating a substantial risk of serious harm?
Heck, when I was in junior high, I got my bus privileges suspended for 3 days. I walked 3 miles. Big deal. It simply is not a substantial risk. But this is where things are going.
And I am afraid that this sort of ridiculous, overblown concern could lead to similar charges if parents allowed their kids to go barefoot. I can just see some ignorant functionary (similar to Ohio Statehouse functionaries) decided that simply allowing a kid to play barefoot presents a substantial risk of serious harm.
Of course, they would have to ignore (just as the Jonesboro police did) the fact that kids, not that long ago, would go barefoot all summer long (just as they would walk long distances to school).
This sort of overwhelming ignorance just drives me nuts.
Even worse, you can be sure this mother doesn’t have the financial resources to mount a vigorous defense to these ridiculous charges. The whole system these days is stacked against it, where defending oneself from any change, particularly one this serious, can bankrupt just about anybody—so they don’t do it.
Instead, because of the severity of the charge, she will be offered a plea deal of some sort (standard legal crap these days), and because of her financial situation, her lawyer (probably a poorly-paid public defender) will have to counsel her to take it. (And even if she has a non-public-defender, she will have to carefully weigh just how much time she wants her lawyer to put into the case; she’ll only get as much justice as she can afford.)
And if she does want to have a jury trial, that requires even more money. Did you know that in most states you have to put up a bond to pay for juries, in advance?
That’s how the justice system works (mainly) these days.
Let me just add: if there is ever a case of a parent being charged with child endangerment because the kid is barefoot and the cop just doesn’t understand that that is not dangerous, and you are a lawyer who comes across this entry who needs an expert witness, call me. Maybe we can educate a jury together.