More Moms Charged With Crimes

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Mom puts three-year-old down for a nap. Mom lays down for a nap herself. Three-year-old gets up, lets herself out, wanders around the neighborhood. Naturally, the local law enforcement idiots charge mom with a crime, in this case child endangerment. Lenore Skenazy comments:

Sounds more like the mom underestimated her child — didn’t realize the girl could or would get up and go!

So how about giving the mom some of those babyproofing thingies that make it hard for a child to open a door? Or an alarm that sounds if the door is opened? In other words, how about helping the mom — and child — rather than making this sound as if the mom is a no-good parent who needs to be punished? As it doesn’t seem like there was any evidence of drugs or alcohol, sounds to me like we’re talking about a parent who simply had something go wrong, which can happen to even the “best” of us.

When we criminalize the ups and downs of normal life, we start making it seem as if living that normal life (which inevitably involves some mistakes and surprises) is criminal.

I think we’re already there.

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35 Responses to “More Moms Charged With Crimes”

  1. #1 |  Marty | 

    within the last week, a Maryland Heights, MO police officer’s 3 yo son killed himself with the officer’s gun. While I’m not hoping he’ll be charged in this tragedy, I am watching to see if he gets equal treatment to these parents…

  2. #2 |  Danny | 

    Everybody around here is always bitchin’ about the “Nanny State,” but I think I’d prefer a nanny state to the status quo, which seems to be a “bash-your-head-against-the-curbstone-for-being-in-the-wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time” state.

  3. #3 |  M. Steve | 

    @#2 Danny

    Yup. At least Nannies usually have some care and compassion for their charges.

  4. #4 |  God's Own Drunk | 

    I’m expecting my first child this September, and am really worried about how things are going to go when our parental styles meet society at large. I’ve seen too many stories of parents getting in legal trouble, or at least roundly shamed for what I consider normal parenting (based on what I and all my peers grew up doing). I’m only 35, and it is really scary to see peers my age who are parents absolutely buy every scary news story about predators out to get their kids and therefore not let their children do anything that was completely normal when we were kids. And their reasons are always the same- “It’s not like it was when WE were kids/You just can’t do that these days with all the predators”. Never mind that things are statistically SAFER than when I was a kid.

  5. #5 |  Steve Verdon | 

    I think we’re already there.

    No Radley, we’ve been there for a very long time.

  6. #6 |  John P. | 

    The systems is irreversibly broken. The cops and the prosecutors broke it when they started using it to their own personal gains…

  7. #7 |  John Jenkins | 

    I’d say that police officer is a hell of a lot more culpable than either of the two mothers in this post and the last. There is no way a loaded firearm should be anywhere a three-year old can get to it.

  8. #8 |  Mattocracy | 

    No victim, no injury, no crime.

  9. #9 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    John P.,

    Nonsense. When enough people decide that they have had Enough. Of. This. Sh*t. things will change. They will change even if the State has awarded itself unlimited power forever, because the State CANNOT do that. No matter how swell these swine think they are they cannot defy natural law, cannot enforce the unenforcible, cannot ignore gravity.

    And if you have given up and are angsting in a corner, you won’t get any chance to affect that change.

  10. #10 |  Leah | 

    Yep, definitely already there. I’m not a paranoid parent, but my two huge fears are 1.) car accidents (so I take precautions, use safety seats to max limits, etc) and 2.) DCFS will come up with some stupid reason to take my kids. Perhaps someone sees me letting them play in the yard while I’m cooking dinner, or stay in the car on a cool day while I pick up dry cleaning… The only way for me to take precautions there is to start helicoptering and both impede my kids’ normal childhood development and make myself overworked and miserable (hauling three kids 4 and under in turns a 3 minute errand into a 20 minute one). My only consolation is that I live in an urban neighborhood where people are relatively less helicoptery, they let their kids walk to school pretty young and play in the front yard.

  11. #11 |  Difster | 

    How does a 3 year old even pull a trigger?

    A cocked double action pistol is easy to pull, but not an un-cocked double or a single action.

    And Danny, it’s the Nanny staters that want women like this prosecuted. Furthermore, the nanny state IS the status quo.

    We need to dial it back a LOT.

    What do we have the mentality that for every bad thing that happens, someone must PAY?!!!

  12. #12 |  Wavemanns | 

    When my wife and I took in my mother in law who had Alzheimers I stayed home as the primary care giver for a couple of years. We tried to give her as much freedom as possible, we let her keep smoking as long as she did it outside in the back yard which was fenced in. She ended up accidentally setting the deck on fire while I was in the basement. I’m sure if I lived in the USA instead of Canada they’d put me up on arson charges.

  13. #13 |  Jay | 

    #10, Difster

    They position the gun such that they can push DOWN on the trigger with all their might. That’s why they end up shooting themselves; a three year old cannot pull the trigger unless he has the gun pointed at himself.

  14. #14 |  Jay | 

    Woman with slurred speech due to stroke is asked by police to step outside her house, and then is arrested for public intoxication.

  15. #15 |  Sean L. | 

    It’s about the incentives.
    1) Divorce success from conviction rates
    2) Eliminate absolute immunity
    3) Direct ALL funds/assets seized away from law enforcement control (I’m thinking a victim’s fund, butthere may be better ideas)
    4) Require all lab work be done by independent lab of defendant’s choosing

    You -really- want to make things interesting? I say let private companies compete with the police. Grant arresting power and assign 711 and 811 so I can call the best/cheapest option.

  16. #16 |  Marty | 

    #12 | Jay- I’m sure you’re right, but it put a horrible picture in my mind. heartbreaking.

  17. #17 |  TC | 

    And if she used a comfort cage?

    you know just so the kid could not like escape so easily?

  18. #18 |  samsam von Virginia | 

    #4, God’s Own Drunk

    For a reference point, I suggest you watch an episode of the TV show “Dragnet” from 1954 called “The Big Crime”. It’s got child abduction, sex offender registries, and everything. It’s eerie how modern it appears.

    If a popular TV show dealt with this subject, then it must have been something on peoples’ minds. And yet, kids managed to survive without being bubble-wrapped. The only thing that’s changed is there’s no Red Scare, so we gotta freak out about something else… God, I miss the Commies.

  19. #19 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @15- Oh yea, how much for arresting my enemy this week?

  20. #20 |  ktc2 | 


    It’s already “free” now. How many homes broken into, vandalized and people shot on “anonymous tips”?

    Private companies would face real losses and the personnel real penalties for false arrests and botched raids, unlike the current goon squad.

  21. #21 |  PaultheCabDriver | 

    There is a solution: A very practical one that many in repressive countries have been engaging in for years. Don’t have children. This is the attitude being adopted in our own country now, and has been the norm for years in nanny states and oppressive regimes from Japan to Europe to Russia. This is contributing factor to why the birth rate in most Western European countries is dropping like a stone. It is now below replacement levels in many Western countries. It’s ironic how all of these “laws” to “protect the children” have ended up contributing to the complete demise of Western civilization.

  22. #22 |  Kristen | 

    Yet another example of how it’s way too risky to have children, and it’s not worth risking my own life and liberty to have one. Seriously – fuckit.

  23. #23 |  Joe in Missouri | 

    There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. — (paraphrased: Page 406 of Ayn Rand’s, Atlas Shrugged )

  24. #24 |  solinox | 

    I’m with #10. My biggest fear is child services. I’ve seen them take kids from friends for no good reason, and as a homeschooling non-Christian mother of six children, 4 of whom are visually impaired, from what I’ve seen all it takes around here is getting their attention at all and we’re doomed. How pathetic is it that I base many of my parenting choices not on what is best for my children, but on what will keep the government from taking my children away?

  25. #25 |  JOR | 

    “Private companies would face real losses and the personnel real penalties for false arrests and botched raids, unlike the current goon squad.”

    That would depend on what legal privileges they had and who their customers were. If you take away the legal privileges and immunities then they’re no longer professional law enforcement as we understand it (which is fine with me, but then we’re not really talking about ‘privatizing police’). This idea that we even need a special caste of super-important people with unilateral arrest powers and legal immunities is itself a recent development, and it’s caused nothing but trouble. I’d rather just get rid of that system and anything connected to it, not privatize it. If a law can’t be trusted to enforcement by free and equal individuals in the community, it probably shouldn’t exist.

  26. #26 |  irish red | 

    and another one…

    “Perry County mother charged with unlawfully entering school bus to help a son she thought was ill”

  27. #27 |  Mike T | 

    You -really- want to make things interesting? I say let private companies compete with the police. Grant arresting power and assign 711 and 811 so I can call the best/cheapest option.

    Just go back to the way it used to be.

    1. Anyone could carry out an arrest.
    2. Invalid arrests were kidnapping unless the person executing them had an extremely good story about why they thought it was valid.
    3. Perfectly lawful to arrest any factually invalid or unlawful arrest with force, including deadly force if the person effecting the arrest uses dangerous or lethal force.

  28. #28 |  And They Wonder Why the Jails are so Full …. | Truth and Justice For All | 

    […] while you’re at it, read this from Radley Balko that recounts a nightmare that could visit any of you with young […]

  29. #29 |  Sean | 

    Three years back here in a neighborhood just outside the city limits sheriff’s deputies found a toddler roaming the streets at three AM in the morning. They handled it by going around to EVERY house in the neighborhood and pounding on doors at 3:30-4 am in the morning trying to find where the little girl belonged. They probably scared the bejezus out of all those people, and all for no good reason. If I saw cops on my doorstep at 3-4 am my first thought would be that a relative was dead, or that I was about to get a “wrong door” raid. Yet in the comments section of the local paper’s website everyone was praising the sheriff’s office for their “good work.” I suspect those people didn’t live in that neighborhood though …

  30. #30 |  pierre | 

    Apparently I did this exact same thing to my mom when I was two. I decided to go for a nice walk all over the east side of Milwaukee in the nude.

    My mom woke up, and frantically started looking for me. She found me on the lap of Frank Balistrieri, having a coke outside of his condo on Prospect Ave. This was just a few years before he was indicted for racketeering.

    He bitched her out for a few minutes and sent us on our way. Or so I’m told.

  31. #31 |  Cyto | 

    #14 Jay

    The most remarkable thing from your article:

    Police Chief David Brown apologized to the family and said they shouldn’t have been arrested.

    I’m stunned…

  32. #32 |  JOR | 


    Precisely. Incidentally I think that the libertarians who think that everything wrong with the police state and police behavior traces back to the drug war have it backwards. The drug war is a separate problem but if anything it’s more a way to legitimize the inevitable behavior of cops than vice versa. Of course drug prohibition would still be a huge problem even if we went back to citizen law enforcement; but the cops won’t suddenly start behaving themselves overnight if drugs are legalized and, practically speaking, they would (and do) fight legalization at every step – because drug laws give them an easy excuse to do what they want to do anyway.

  33. #33 |  Maggie McNeill | 

    #27: The Drug War is just the latest step in a long series of laws against what used to be considered private behavior; the trend started with the “social purity” movement of the late 19th century, a strange brew formed from the mixture of decaying first-wave feminism, Protestant Christian missionary zeal and a misguided view of “progress” which held that humans could be “improved” as technology could be. The social purity movement (sometimes positively labelled the “Progressive Era” in the United States) was the first broad push for laws against private behaviors and resulted in the proliferation of laws against alcohol, homosexuality, prostitution, masturbation and a number of other things which had not previously been considered concerns of the State. Of course, when government creates “crimes” without victims, it’s necessary to empower the police to spy on people, invade their privacy and do all the other stuff we now associate with them. This is also the time period when police started wearing uniforms, using military ranks, etc.

  34. #34 |  pam | 

    at least they can’t blame it on being a teenage mom or a gay parent or some other type of societal outcast

  35. #35 |  ramster | 

    Yesterday, my 3 year old and 2 year old boys woke up about half an hour before me and my wife. We finally wake up and as I groggily go downstairs, I notice that the front door is wide open! It turns out that they had been in front of our house checking up on our garden. The 3 year old assured me, “dada, we were very careful, we stayed on the sidewalk and didn’t go onto the road”. It never occurred to me that this could get us tossed into jail.