Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Daily bread


Hearing all the stories about reductions in food stamps and cessation of unemployment benefits got me thinking about some kids I represented in juvenile court.  There were three or four of them, all boys, cute little freckle faced strawberry blond boys, like stair steps, youngest to oldest.   The cops picked them up when they shoplifted some bread and bologna.  They were apprehended as they were ingesting the evidence.  The officers were unable to locate the mother, so the kids got a free night at the Wayne County Hotel for Wayward Youth.  By the next morning, Mom showed up for the preliminary hearing.  Since the oldest kid was only twelve or thirteen, the referee ordered them released to the mother without any bond.  As the hearing concluded, the oldest kid whispered something to his mother.  She got the referee's attention, and told her "They want to know if they can stay for lunch." We all laughed at that.  ( Once I visited a client when they were eating lunch, and another kid came up and showed me his split pea soup, with a cockroach doing the backstroke.)
This whole situation triggered some concern for these kids.  The kids stole the food because they were hungry.  Cops could not locate mom.  They want to eat lunch at the youth home, maybe because they didn't know when they would get the next meal.  I got to talk to the kids, and gave the oldest one my card, told him to call me if he had any problems at home.
Turns out mom had an open neglect file with Children's Protective Services (CPS).   I found out who the social worker was and she explained that the kids had been returned to the mom not too long ago, after spending some time in foster care.  Mom had a heroin addiction, but she was supposedly clean at the time the kids were stealing their dinner.
A few weeks later, I get a call from big brother.  He says he wants me to come to their place, so he can show me the mom's "works" (syringes, tubes for tying of the arm, etc.).  He says she and live in boyfriend are back on the junk.  So I set up a time, go out.  Mom proudly shows my the fridge packed with food, and all the rooms neat and clean.  Then, as soon as mom is out of sight, my client, the boy, takes me to a closet packed with clean linen, and picks up a stack and shows me the syringe, etc.  So I told him to sit tight, I was going back to my officer to immediately call their worker.  They ended back in state custody.
I hated it.  They were so darn cute, and such sweet kids.