The recording begins with the sound of a child’s voice. It belongs to a little girl and she is clearly bewildered and distressed.
At one point she begins to cry. At other times she is sobbing uncontrollably. ‘Have you seen the judge yet?’ she can be heard asking pitifully in between the tears before pleading: ‘I want to go home with [you] Mummy and Daddy.’
The recording – and dozens of others just like it – was made during a supervised meeting between the youngster and her parents after their daughter was taken away from them by social workers.
They are known as ‘contact visits’ in the soulless vernacular of the care system, and took place in a room with a table and chairs and a few toys.
One hour. Once a month. That’s the extent of the relationship now between this little seven-year-old girl and her traumatised parents.
There are some parents who do not deserve to see their children more than once a month. Irresponsible parents. Neglectful parents. Abusive parents.
According to care workers, the mother and father of this little girl were found to fall into this category after their home was raided by the RSPCA and at least 18 police officers to deal with a complaint about supposed mistreatment of dogs.
But what if social workers have got it wrong? In the light of Baby P and so many other scandals, it’s hardly impossible is it?
Certainly, the recordings stored on a computer at the family’s home on the South Coast seem to contradict the damaging claims by social services that the girl, whom we shall call Jenny – the girl’s real identity has been suppressed by the courts – did not wish to return to live with her parents.
Jenny’s father spent months taking down every word of the recordings by hand, only to be told by a judge that they had to be professionally transcribed.
By the time they were, it was too late. Moves to put Jenny up for adoption were under way.
This week, after 74 separate court hearings over two harrowing years, the family finally lost their fight to have Jenny returned to them.
The Court of Appeal in London ruled that their daughter must be given up for adoption. If and when she is, they may never see her again.
It was a little before 8 at night when the breaker went out at Emily Milburn’s home in Galveston. She was busy preparing her children for school the next day, so she asked her 12-year-old daughter, Dymond, to pop outside and turn the switch back on.
As Dymond headed toward the breaker, a blue van drove up and three men jumped out rushing toward her. One of them grabbed her saying, “You’re a prostitute. You’re coming with me.”
Dymond grabbed onto a tree and started screaming, “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy.” One of the men covered her mouth. Two of the men beat her about the face and throat.
As it turned out, the three men were plain-clothed Galveston police officers who had been called to the area regarding three white prostitutes soliciting a white man and a black drug dealer.
All this is according to a lawsuit filed in Galveston federal court by Milburn against the officers. The lawsuit alleges that the officers thought Dymond, an African-American, was a hooker due to the “tight shorts” she was wearing, despite not fitting the racial description of any of the female suspects. The police went to the wrong house, two blocks away from the area of the reported illegal activity, Milburn’s attorney, Anthony Griffin, tells Hair Balls.
After the incident, Dymond was hospitalized and suffered black eyes as well as throat and ear drum injuries.
Three weeks later, according to the lawsuit, police went to Dymond’s school, where she was an honor student, and arrested her for assaulting a public servant. Griffin says the allegations stem from when Dymond fought back against the three men who were trying to take her from her home. The case went to trial, but the judge declared it a mistrial on the first day, says Griffin. The new trial is set for February.
“I think we’ll be okay,” says Griffin. “I don’t think a jury will find a 12-year-old girl guilty who’s just sitting outside her house. Any 12-year-old attacked by three men and told that she’s a prostitute is going to scream and yell for Daddy and hit back and do whatever she can. She’s scared to death.”
Since the incident more than two years ago, Dymond regularly suffers nightmares in which police officers are raping and beating her and cutting off her fingers, according to the lawsuit.
Griffin says he expects to enter mediation with the officers in early 2009 to resolve the lawsuit.
We’ve got calls in to the officers’ lawyer; we’ll let you know if we hear something.
Update: This is from the officers’ lawyer, William Helfand:
Both the daughter and the father were arrested for assaulting a peace officer. “The father basically attacked police officers as they were trying to take the daughter into custody after she ran off.”
Also, “The city has investigated the matter and found that the conduct of the police officers was appropriate under the circumstances,” Helfand says. “It’s unfortunate that sometimes police officers have to use force against people who are using force against them. And the evidence will show that both these folks violated the law and forcefully resisted arrest.”
Yay war on prostitution! Keeping the fatherland safe.
The most recent political book I’ve read is Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches: The Riddles of Culture on loan from Blog of Bile’s very own xyz. It is a collection of short essays in the field of anthropology and sociology. Each essay attempts to shatter preconceived notions and explain in greater detail human actions which the author has deemed befuddling. Amongst the topics discussed are cows as sacred animals, pig lovers and haters, primitive warfare, the idea of an aggressive male, extreme consumption and extreme donation, cargo cults, a history of messiahs, the violent origins of Christianity, early witchcraft and witch trials, and the contemporary resurgence of disdain for objectivity.
The book is a relatively easy and quick read, only slowing down at the end where the author feels it necessary to defend himself from the hordes of sandal-wearing druggies that are going to attack him. The author is selling his theories as to why certain anomalies in culture exist. Unfortunately due to the imperfect nature of his science the results are quite subjective. Despite Mr. Harris’ ardent pleas for objectivity at the end of the book I find some of his explanations to be lacking in sufficient evidence to support his claims of causation.
On a positive note, he does an excellent job of introducing the history surrounding these topics. There is a lot of good information in the book, mostly revolving around things that are not easily disputed such as recorded history. This book is an excellent catalyst for debate.
Rather than go through each topic, here are some of the highlights that stick in my mind:
- A good analysis of childbirth and war are used to attempt to explain why males are dominant in most of our societies.
- Some interesting history of egalitarianism, reciprocity and “the big man” in primitive societies.
- A decent early history of Christianity, including the movements leading up to it and Paul’s initial reformation of the church following the death of Jesus.
- A scathing essay on the futility of modern movements attempting to change society by changing individual consciousness. Scathing is an understatement, perhaps scalding, blistering or even face-melting would be more appropriate. I think this is the essay bile would enjoy most.
Here are some problems I had with the book:
- He starts with a good premise, “I hope to present probable and reasonable solutions, not certainties.” But by the end of the book he is so wrapped up in defending himself he comes across like an early evangelical minister telling “God’s honest truth”.
- Don’t quote the King James translation of the bible when entering into debate over the origins of Christianity. Sometimes Mr. Harris addresses the original Aramaic, but at other times he seems to disregard the translation process that led to the quotes he chooses to use. This part of the book could use bolstering.
AUSTIN, Texas – A $5-per-customer fee on strip club patrons dubbed the “pole tax” has been declared unconstitutional.
A state district judge ruled that clubs can’t collect the fee. The charge went into effect in January and was expected to raise about $44 million for sexual assault prevention programs and health care for the uninsured.
Judge Scott Jenkins wrote in the March 28 decision that the fee, “while furthering laudable goals, violates the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and is therefore invalid.”
I originally intended to post this as a follow-up, but discovered the original, related stories never made it to the blog. I’ve listed them below for reference:
…the Lone Star State will require its 150 or so strip clubs to collect a $5-per-customer levy, with most of the proceeds going to help rape victims.
“This is an industry that largely employs women, and this gives them an opportunity to raise funds for a crime that affects women,” said state Rep. Ellen Cohen, a Houston Democrat who sponsored the legislation. “I’ve been told the fees to get into these places can be $10, $15. I don’t think another $5 is going to prevent someone from going.”
Um, maybe that’s your problem, Ms. Cohen, you don’t think.
San Francisco’s 68 controversial anti-crime cameras haven’t deterred criminals from committing assaults, sex offenses or robberies – and they’ve only moved homicides down the block, according to a new report from UC Berkeley.
Researchers found that nonviolent thefts dropped by 22 percent within 100 feet of the cameras, but the devices had no effect on burglaries or car theft. And they’ve had no effect on violent crime.
Mayor Gavin Newsom called the report “conclusively inconclusive” on Thursday but said he still wants to install more cameras around the city because they make residents feel safer.
“When I put the first cameras in, I said, ‘This may only move people around the corner,’ ” he said. “But the community there said, ‘We don’t care, we want our alleyway back.’ No one’s actually had a camera up that they wanted torn down in the community.”
But not all city officials think it’s wise to spend money on public safety measures if the best thing that can be said about them is they have a placebo effect for worried residents.”In their current configuration they are not useful, and they give people a false sense of security, which I think is bad,” said Police Commissioner Joe Alioto-Veronese. He added that previous studies of security cameras in other parts of the country have also shown that they do not deter violent crime.
I’m amazed such logic came out of a police commissioner. You don’t get that very often.
The cameras have contributed to only one arrest nearly two years ago in a city that saw 98 homicides last year, a 12-year high. The video is choppy, and police aren’t allowed to watch video in real-time or maneuver the cameras to get a better view of potential crimes.
The only positive deterrent effect was the reduction of larcenies within 100 feet of the cameras. No other crimes were affected – except for homicides, which had an interesting pattern.
Murders went down within 250 feet of the cameras, but the reduction was completely offset by an increase 250 to 500 feet away, suggesting people moved down the block before killing each other.
That stat about the murders is just wonderful. You can be sure that some pols are just going to twist that to push for 100% camera coverage.
Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who has long been a critic of the cameras, said the report is further proof they’re not improving public safety.
He said they’re no substitute for attacking the causes of crime and said money would be better invested in community-based policing, anti-violence projects in schools, and services that help ex-prisoners readjust to life in society so they don’t commit more crimes.
How about looking at why they commit crimes in the first place? How many of those crimes are a result of the black market and prohibitions?
I like some of the comments:
Actually fatsengalla – they DO work – I have first hand experience of this from the UK…… BUT and it’s a big one… THEY HAVE TO BE USED PROPERLY, which appears to be the problem, and not have their use hampered by bogus claims about privacy and other such rubbish.
The fact that the cameras are stopping crime in the areas in which they are located indicates that, contrary to the story’s headline, they are working. The big problem with the way SF is using the cameras is that they are much too visible, the police are not allowed to view them or change their direction which is idiotic and there aren’t enough of them. The idea that cameras that are in public places somehow violate ones right to privacy is madness. How about all the cameras in banks, stores and other public places?
I know… we should put cameras in newcastle’s home just in case he commits a crime. Those UK cameras worked so well in helping stop those guys who blew up those buses a few years back. Oh and catching that Brazilian
terrorist plumber the London police decided needed bullets implanted in his skull. Same goes for froggy_08. Obviously since people come and go in their home it’s a “public” place. At least one pointed into the yard. It’s not like banks and stores are private property or anything and those in their are volunteering to be seen on camera and pay for their operation.
Really what we should do is a setup a network of cameras which cover every inch of land which a crime could be committed on. We link them all up to high powered computer farms which use facial and movement recognition software to track every single object in the cameras view. We feed that into a giant database which is analyzed in realtime for suspicious individuals and alert the police. It can watch what you get at the store or what food you’ve purchased and if anything bought could be used for malisious actions you will be flagged. If you have ingested too many calories or fatty foods the NHS will be alerted and you’ll receive a fine for possibly costing the government more than your share of healthcare costs.
At some point criminals will just start wearing clothing with surface mount IR LEDs on them which will blind the cameras.
Japanese officials are questioning a US army servicemen over an alleged sexual assault, adding to a series of recent accusations which have made locals more hostile to American troops.Japanese and US authorities said an unidentified servicemen was accused of attacking a Philippine woman at a hotel on the southern island of Okinawa.
Last week a US marine from the same area was arrested on suspicion of raping a 14-year old Japanese girl.
The incident compounded local anger at the heavy US military presence on the island.
A series of recent crimes such as drunk driving and trespassing have been blamed on American servicemen, and locals have for years complained of crowding and noise.
The latest case comes a day after American forces indefinitely banned 45,000 troops, civilian employees and their families from venturing off army bases, except to travel between work and off-base homes, in attempt to cut down on crime.
I thought our presence in other countries wasn’t a problem? We are their great protectors right? We’re the USA. How could we possibly upset anyone by having 45K troops in their homeland for 60+ years. Don’t these people understand we are there to help them. The Wilsonians told me they were fine with this. Perhaps these protesters are just confused.