An 11-member Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice has been created to identify “those who knew but failed to speak” and “those who saw but failed to act.” The commission, which held hearings in Wilkes-Barre this week, faces a daunting task, because complicity in the scandal goes beyond even the lawyers, elected officials, school administrators, teachers, probation officers, and prosecutors charged with protecting the children who were victimized.
The parents of the victims are also to blame. They had a responsibility to ask why Ciavarella did not allow legal representation for their children. If they couldn’t afford counsel, they should have demanded that the court appoint a public defender, which is a constitutional right. And they should have appealed when their children were incarcerated for what didn’t even amount to a misdemeanor.
The reasons for their negligence are deeply rooted. They are products of a regional culture that emphasizes deference to public officials and retribution for those who challenge authority.
The Legislature on Friday revised an unusual law permitting parents to hand children up to age 18 over to state custody without prosecution, instead limiting its reach to infants up to 30 days old.
The original law, enacted earlier this year, was intended to protect newborns from being abandoned or killed by panicked young mothers. But since Sept. 1, to the shock of officials and the public in Nebraska, 35 older children, many from 10 to 17 years in age, have been dropped off at hospitals. Most were left by desperate parents who said the children were uncontrollable and violent and needed more counseling or psychiatric services than they could find or pay for.
More and more families are facing homelessness. According to Reuters, Wal-Mart customers are delaying buying necessities till payday, including infant’s formula. It wasn’t that long ago I can forget, where I was living payday to payday, check cash to check cash. But I didn’t have a family to support back then. It would be a terrible struggle to be in such a place in this day and age.
Imagine a place where in two short years a budget surplus has been magically transformed into a deficit. A place where millions of people are jobless, many of them laid off in the past 24 months. Homelessness is steadily increasing, millions of children go to bed hungry and terrorists have recently attacked, killing thousands.
Then imagine that this country’s king decides to deny government workers scheduled raises and new government workers civil service protection, but confers upon the appointed members of his court bonuses of up to $25,000.