November 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
For the First Time Ever, a Prosecutor Will Go to Jail for Wrongfully Convicting an Innocent Man
Posted: 11/08/2013 4:12 pm EST Updated: 11/08/2013 4:38 pm EST
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Today in Texas, former prosecutor and judge Ken Anderson pled guilty to intentionally failing to disclose evidence in a case that sent an innocent man, Michael Morton, to prison for the murder of his wife. When trying the case as a prosecutor, Anderson possessed evidence that may have cleared Morton, including statements from the crime’s only eyewitness that Morton wasn’t the culprit. Anderson sat on this evidence, and then watched Morton get convicted. While Morton remained in prison for the next 25 years, Anderson’s career flourished, and he eventually became a judge.
In today’s deal, Anderson pled to criminal contempt, and will have to give up his law license, perform 500 hours of community service, and spend 10 days in jail. Anderson had already resigned in September from his position on the Texas bench.
What makes today’s plea newsworthy is not that Anderson engaged in misconduct that sent an innocent man to prison. Indeed, while most prosecutors and police officers are ethical and take their constitutional obligations seriously, government misconduct–including disclosure breaches known as Brady violations–occurs so frequently that it has become one of the chief causes of wrongful conviction.
What’s newsworthy and novel about today’s plea is that a prosecutor was actually punished in a meaningful way for his transgressions.
I give speeches about the Innocence Movement, and tell stories from real cases, all around the world. No matter where I am, when I finish speaking the first question usually is, “What happened to the police/prosecutors who did this to the poor guy?” The answer is almost always, “Nothing,” or worse, “The police officer was promoted and now is the chief of his department.” The adage that the powerful go unpunished is no truer or more visible than with police officers and prosecutors in America–even when they send innocent people to prison from their misconduct.
My client Roger Dean Gillispie of Dayton, Ohio, for example, spent 20 years in prison as a result of police misconduct. In 2007, we presented overwhelming evidence that the police officers, like Anderson in the Morton case, failed to turn over evidence to the defense before trial that would have cleared Gillispie. We also supplied the court with evidence that the police officer in charge had harassed and intimidated witnesses helpful to the defense, and had manipulated the evidence. Before going to court to clear Gillispie, we met with the local prosecutors, hopeful that they wouldn’t tolerate such misconduct and would do a thorough (and neutral) investigation to get to the truth. Instead, they simply denied everything in knee-jerk fashion, and fought to keep Gillispie in prison until a federal court finally found government misconduct and threw out his charges in December 2011. To this day, the police officer in the case has not been investigated by a neutral, independent body. The only thing he has received is promotions.
Rogue cops and prosecutors going unpunished is the rule rather than the exception. In Illinois, two police officers whose improperly grueling interrogation techniques led to the wrongful conviction of Juan Rivera and others were not penalized when their 3rd degree tactics came to light. Rather, they were recently hired at taxpayer expense to teach interrogation courses to other police officers around the state.
A recent study found prosecutorial misconduct in nearly one-quarter of all capital cases in Arizona. Only two of those prosecutors have been reprimanded or punished. This led the Arizona Republic to conclude:
There seldom are consequences for prosecutors, regardless of whether the miscarriage of justice occurred because of ineptness or misconduct. In fact, they are often congratulated.
Other studies/articles with similar troubling results can be found here, here, here, and here.
Fortunately, there is something very simple that judges across the country can do to eradicate this problem. All judges, state and federal, should issue the standing “ethical rule order” proposed by the Hon. Nancy Gertner and Innocence Project Co-Founder Barry Scheck. The proposed order requires prosecutors to disclose, pre-trial, all evidence that “tends to negate the guilt of the accused or mitigates the offense.” Details regarding the proposed ethical rule order, including all the justifications supporting it, can be found in this article by Barry Scheck.
The reason such standing ethical rule orders are important is that they allow prosecutors, like Ken Anderson, to be held in criminal contempt if they are later found to have engaged in misconduct. Anderson could be punished today only because such an order had been issued in the Morton case.
Today’s conviction of Ken Anderson stands out as an extreme aberration in a society where police and prosecutorial misconduct goes largely unpunished. But it is a step in the right direction. Hopefully, today’s result will deter rogue cops and prosecutors in the future from engaging in similar misconduct. But this will happen only if judges across the country do what the judge did more than 25 years ago in the Morton case: issue an order requiring that proper disclosure to the defense, or risk criminal contempt proceedings.
November 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Tuesday, September 23, 2014
Questions arise after DCFS ward charged with murder
Questions arise after DCFS ward charged with murder
Kadiedra Shontell Speed’s experience in Illinois’ child-welfare system has included being placed with adoptive parents who ended up abusing her, stays in psychiatric hospitals, addresses at four homes in the last five years and several arrests for fighting, according to court records and sources.
Posted by LK at 9:44 PM
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Labels: Child Protective, foster care, Illinois, murder, USA
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I am a 21 year police veteran and current police detective that has actively investigated hundreds of child abuse cases. I am also a victim of DCFS corruption. I offer the following advice: Do not ever speak to DCFS…When they come to your home, step outside and close the door behind you…Collect their business card and listen to the allegation against you…Then exert your right to reman silent and do so…Do not answer ANY questions. Do not allow them into your home. Do not allow them to see or interview your children. Do not sign anything. Do not provide them with ANY information about your children or family. If you have time, record the at the door encounter. If your children are old enough, teach them how to exercise their right to remain silent; children should exercise their right to remain silent if interviewed at school or if DCFS comes back to your home with an investigative warrant (school interviews can be avoided by home schooling your children). Any investigative warrant obtained solely on an uncorroborated anonymous allegation to the DCFS hotline is illegal; you should seek an attorney to file a federal civil rights violation lawsuit under 42 USC 1983 if DCFS serves an illegal warrant on your home.
Whom are all the bond holders,Share holders in our all the systems involved Courts and county and state actors the appearance we are missing the numbers and share holders of all the corporations that hide the guilty actors .
November 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Can’t get FOIAS on whom are the bond holders or share holders of all the agencies and all the llc of our appearance of government ? State,county,city, they all have dunn and brad st,ratings look for your city and county?
November 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Differential Response Dealt Heavy Blow
By Daniel Heimpel, June 24, 2014
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Credit: Children and Family Research Center, University of Illinois School of Social Work The cover of the Illinois evaluation, which was dated October 2013, but not made public until 2014.
Credit: Children and Family Research Center, University of Illinois School of Social Work
The cover of the Illinois evaluation, which was dated October 2013, but not made public until 2014.
The long delayed release of an evaluation of Illinois’ differential response program casts
new doubts on whether one of the country’s most popular child welfare reforms is safe for children and a smart way to spend limited resources dedicated to families on the fringe.
According to the report, children whose parents had benefitted from twice as much social work time, $400 stipends and a philosophy that stresses family strengths were more likely to be reported for child maltreatment and become victims of substantiated abuse or neglect.
This controverts 20 years of evaluations and assurances that children involved with differential response-type (DR) programs across the country were as safe or safer than children who received traditional child protective services.
“I was surprised,” said Tamara Fuller, the lead author of the Illinois evaluation. “We were all surprised. This is the first evaluation to see safety go in the opposite direction.”
Others in the research community had forewarned of the potential shortcomings of DR. While Illinois discontinued its differential response program two years ago because of safety concerns and budget strain, dozens of other states are still pushing ahead.
What is DR?
Over the course of the past year I have read scores of evaluations on differential response, position papers, presentations to public officials and news stories. I have also conducted scores more in-depth interviews with experts ranging from the front-line workers who investigate child abuse to child welfare researchers and elected officials.
What emerges is a picture of a reform movement grounded in the idea that traditional investigations of child abuse are too “police like,” which compromises social workers’ capacity to engage families and prevent children from entering foster care.
To fix this, the designers of DR argued that the child protective system should offer a “differential response” for families that show fewer risk factors when a call of child maltreatment comes into the hotline.
In Illinois, and in other public child welfare administrations, calls that meet the legal threshold to warrant an investigation are broken into two tracks. Those cases deemed less risky fall into the “DR track.” In these cases, workers are instructed to forgo fact-finding investigations for softer, “strengths-based” and “family-centered” assessments. Parents are then offered voluntary services. This is unlike traditional investigations, where families can be compelled to follow a service plan or risk losing their children.
Credit: Casey Family Programs This 2012 “report provides a snapshot of considerations to help child welfare jurisdictions in planning and communicating the Differential Response (DR) approach to stakeholders.” It includes instructions on how to assuage DR skeptics’ fears about child safety.
Credit: Casey Family Programs
This 2012 “report provides a snapshot of considerations to help child welfare jurisdictions in planning and communicating the Differential Response (DR) approach to stakeholders.” It includes instructions on how to assuage DR skeptics’ fears about child safety.
A report published by Casey Family Programs, a charitable foundation that has poured money into DR expansion from California to Illinois, said the following of the practice’s superiority over traditional, forensic investigations. “Due to the non-adversarial approach of DR, its focus on identifying root causes behind parenting difficulties, and provision of family related services, DR has demonstrated improvements in family engagement, child and family outcomes, and some cost savings over time,” the report read.
The perceived benefits of this “non-adversarial approach” are echoed in analyses of social worker surveys found in many of the major evaluations of DR to date. One of the most widely cited of these evaluations is the final report on Minnesota’s DR pilot published in 2004. In it, the Institute for Applied Research, a Missouri-based research firm that has conducted the lion’s share of major evaluations on DR, concludes that:
“Generally, according to workers, AR [another name for DR] builds more positive relationships between families and themselves as well as changes [the] adversarial view of child protection system.
Workers tended to like the fact that AR is not as ‘punitive,’ ‘intrusive,’ ‘threatening,’ ‘labeling,’ ‘blaming,’ ‘shaming or antagonistic’ as the traditional approach, which focuses on investigation, documenting incidents and making determinations.”
Propelled by popularity within the child welfare ranks, glowing evaluations and continuous promotion by some of the most powerful players in the field, DR took off. Since 1993, when differential response was first launched in Missouri and Florida, it has spread to as many as 30 states, sometimes in clusters of counties and, in others, state-wide.
But soaring regard for DR has been tempered of late with criticism from some in the research community.
The September Issue
In September of 2013, Ron Hughes and Judith Rycus of the Ohio-based North American Resource Center for Child Welfare (NARCCW) launched the first major broadside on the evidence base that has been used to speed the adoption of differential response in jurisdictions across the country.
Credit: Research on Social Work Practice The September (2013) Issue.
Credit: Research on Social Work Practice The September (2013) Issue.
In a special issue dedicated entirely to DR that ran in an academic journal called Research on Social Work Practice, Hughes, Rycus and colleagues claimed that the evaluations consistently cited to sate nerves over child safety and tout DR’s overall effectiveness were at best inconclusive and at worst marketing tools used by “knowledge monopolies and research cartels” bent on proliferating the growth of an unproven practice.
They took aim mostly at Tony Loman and Gary Seigel, the principals behind the Institute for Applied Research, and authors of seminal evaluations of differential response in Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada and Ohio.
The rest of the September issue was filled with responses to Hughes and Rycus’ paper. One peer hailed Hughes and Rycus for writing what “may be the most important article in the child welfare arena in the past 15 years.” A trio of researchers from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency’s Children’s Research Center wrote:
“This is an important, compelling critique of an initiative that has enjoyed near universal support and has been adopted by child welfare agencies nationwide. Points made throughout their review raise serious concerns about nearly every aspect of the DR movement, ranging from conceptual framework to the evaluations that support its effectiveness.”
Loman and Siegel fired back a testy response: “Each of the points made by Hughes et al., we contend, misrepresents our work; together they seem designed to impugn our integrity.”
In an interview conducted shortly after the September issue was published, Tony Loman minimized Hughes’ and Rycus’ assertion that his firm was promoting DR in any way.
“Marketing is a funny term anyway to use with this,” Loman said. “Because it implies that there is some kind of financial gain. And there is not. If you want to make money, you don’t do evaluations of programs like this.”
The Cost of Re-Directing Limited Funds
Beyond disassembling Loman and Siegal’s methodology and interpretation of data, Hughes and Rycus further argued that DR requires a siphoning of limited resources from higher to lower risk cases.
“You only have so much money, so it has got to come from somewhere,” Hughes said in an interview. “Right now, most goes to high risk cases; and they [the proponents of DR] are saying, ‘Take that money and put it into low-risk cases.’ To do that is harmful.’”
While the exact proportions of funding redirected from higher risk cases to lower risk cases on the DR track are hard to fully discern, reports from child welfare monitors in Connecticut and Los Angeles County indicate stress to traditional child protective services when DR is implemented, and potential danger to children.
Connecticut, under a consent degree stemming from a 1989 class action lawsuit lodged against the Department of Children and Family Services, has a court monitor who issues quarterly reports on the child welfare system.
In October of 2013, Court Monitor Raymond Mancuso issued a report stating that:
“Front line staffing levels are inadequate given the complexity of cases that now make up the pool of investigation and ongoing service cases that social workers have on their caseloads since the implementation of the Differential Response System (DRS). DRS results in the diversion of low-risk cases from workers’ caseloads, leaving staff with caseloads made up of only complex cases.”
Three months later, in the following report, Mancuso wrote that the “the situation has worsened.”
In February of 2013, The Los Angles Times published a confidential report that had been written by County Counsel’s Children’s Special Investigative Unit in 2012.
The report detailed the systemic failings that contributed to 14 deaths and one “critical incident” wherein an eight-week-old boy was thrown against a wall and sustained near fatal injuries. “Front-end” services, including under-informed investigations and an over-reliance on L.A.’s differential response experiment called Point of Engagement, contributed to the majority of the deaths, according to the report.
“In recent years, the focus on utilizing voluntary services and safety plans as a means of keeping children at home has clearly conveyed the message that DCFS wants to ‘reduce reliance on out-of-home care,’” the report’s author Amy Shek Naamani wrote. “Like the classic ‘game of telephone’, overtime, the message ‘morphed’ and was understood by the workers and managers as simply ‘do not remove/keep the numbers down.’”
The agency’s primary goals, including shorter paths to permanence and improved child safety, were lost in the shuffle, Naamani wrote. “Individual offices and leadership celebrated as their number of detentions decreased and individual social workers were praised for low detention numbers; all while more children were dying while left in their parent(s) care.”
In Illinois, the Department of Children and Family Services made explicit this tension over limited resources. On Dec. 18, 2013, then-acting director of DCFS, Denise Gonzalez, sent a letter to State Sens. Mattie Hunter and Julie Morrison explaining the rationale behind eliminating the differential response program in 2012. Hunter had introduced the legislation creating DR back in 2009, and Morrison serves on a Senate subcommittee focused on DCFS.
“The program was cut to allow DCFS to preserve funding for programs that were more critical to child safety,” the letter reads. DCFS analysis showed that “children whose families were diverted to DR were no safer than families that received safety services through traditional child abuse investigation assessments and procedures.”
Further the letter contends: “DR required transferring staff out of frontline child protection positions and into the DR pilot, creating vacancies in investigations that DCFS was unable to fill, and thus driving up caseloads for investigative staff that contributed to high caseloads that put children at risk.”
Gonzalez went on to reference the DR evaluation conducted by Fuller and her team that had, by this time, been completed but not yet published.
“Subsequent analysis by the University of Illinois in a report that will soon be released found that over the 18-month period following the closure of a family’s initial report to the department, families in the DR pilot program were more likely to experience a reported recurrence of maltreatment,” Gonzalez wrote.
The Illinois Evaluation
Credit: Children and Families Research Center, University of Illinois Tamara Fuller
Credit: Children and Families Research Center, University of Illinois
Fuller, the director of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Center on Child Welfare Research, had been commissioned in December of 2010 to conduct the Illinois DR evaluation as part of a massive federal research grant promising a three-site evaluation of differential response. Of the three state reports submitted, Illinois’ was the first.
While it is dated October 2013, it was not released until January 2014. Fuller and DCFS say that the release was delayed by the high turnover of child welfare directors in Illinois during the past year.
The study zeroed in on 7,584 families who were eligible for DR services from November 2010 through May 2012. Forty-one percent of (3,101) families were randomly assigned to receive differential response services, while the others received a traditional investigation.
Families in the DR track were assigned two social workers, one from DCFS and the other from one of 14 private agencies contracting with the department. Children not on the DR track only had one county-employed social worker assigned to their case.
Caseloads, a critical component in the quality of services given by social workers, were lower for social workers in the DR track.
This was so pronounced that Fuller and her colleagues made note of it in a 2012 report following a site visit the year before. “The lower caseloads and the lower severity of the types of cases being handled by the DCFS DR specialists were highly visible to the DCFS investigators working the traditional track, which often led to resentment,” they wrote.
The disparities did not end there. Families on the DR track had more frequent visits from the private social workers acting on behalf of DCFS and consistently received more services aimed at alleviating the socioeconomic conditions that are thought to contribute to heightened risk of maltreatment. This included cash stipends to pay for car repairs, food and clothing, utilities, furniture, appliances and home repairs.
On most measures it appears that families assigned to the DR track were given more attention, and more resources to mitigate perceived safety risks. Of the 25 percent of DR track families that filled out a survey on their experience with DR, versus the 20 percent who responded to surveys on the traditional track, differential response was the clearly more popular.
“Families like it better,” Fuller said. “We have definitively answered that. In that sense it works fine. If you look at safety you may have a different answer.”
While Fuller and other researchers I interviewed were quick to point out the large size of the sample and how that can make small differences seem more significant, the Illinois evaluation showed that children in the DR track were less safe than their peers in the control group.
Eighteen months after a DR case was closed, 18.8 percent of children received a new report of child maltreatment, compared to 14.7 percent in the traditional track. After the same amount of time, 6.1 percent of children in the DR track were substantiated as victims of abuse or neglect, as compared to 4.7 percent in the traditional track.
And while removals of children from the DR track 18 months after their cases had been closed was only 0.2 percent higher than those who received a traditional investigation, it took, on average, 49 days longer to make the decision to remove.
Of the 3,101 families who ended up on the DR track, only 1,389, or 44.8 percent, would complete the services.
In Illinois, twice as much social work, car payments and a sincere effort to change the face of DCFS did not significantly induce engagement. Instead, less than half of the families made it through the program and the children in the DR track were less safe. All while impeding the traditional system’s ability to respond to higher risk cases.
When asked if Fuller still believes in DR, her answer was fast and earnest.
“Absolutely,” she said. “It’s a promising practice. If you look at totality of the research as a whole; if you look at every evaluation I still think it is a promising practice.”
Daniel Heimpel is the founder of Fostering Media Connections and the publisher of The Chronicle of Social Change.
TAGS: Alternative Response, Casey Family Programs, child abuse, Child Maltreatment, child protective services, Child Removal, child welfare, Daniel Heimpel, DCFS, Differential Response, foster care, Gary Siegal, Illinois DCFS, Institue for Applied Research, Judith Rycus, NCCD, Research News, Ron Hughs, The Child Welfare System, The Foster Care System, Tony Loman
November 21, 2014 § Leave a comment
Teenager Isaiah Rider Speaks Out After Being Taken From His Mom In Medical Kidnapping Case
Isaiah Rider Speaks Out
“I just want to be back with my mom… she never did anything wrong.” That is what teenager Isaiah Rider told the Inquisitr in an exclusive interview. His mother committed the “cardinal sin” of asking for a second opinion, and now the 17-year-old is at the center of a custody battle between the woman who has loved and cared for him since birth, and a hospital and CPS in Illinois — a state he only visited for the purpose of surgery for his rare medical condition, called neurofibromatosis, a rare condition which causes painful tumors on the nerves.
While the media and lawyers have discussed his “case,” Isaiah’s voice has been ignored, yet it is HIS life that is being decided.
The Inquisitr recently reported on the disturbing trend of children being removed from their parents’ custody over differences in medical opinion. Isaiah is one of those victims. According to Isaiah, Luries Children’s Hospital in Chicago “was trying to say that she medically abused me, but she didn’t.” He says that she was just doing what any parent would do. When his mother, who is a nurse by trade, saw her child in severe pain which continued for weeks following his surgery, she wanted the doctors to do something to help him with his pain, reports the Kansas City Star.
After the staff was unable to do anything about his pain or the seizures that began during surgery, Michelle asked for a second opinion and tried to transfer his care to a facility that might be able to do something for him. For that, Luries called in CPS and seized custody. Both Michelle and Isaiah report that this came out of nowhere. Never before, during years of Isaiah’s health problems, had anyone ever accused her of any wrongdoing in his care.
When his mother was told at the hospital that she couldn’t see her son anymore, Isaiah had no idea. He said that the hospital had him so drugged up on medications that he didn’t even realize what had happened at first. He was shocked when they told him that he wasn’t allowed to see his mom. The doctors blamed his mother, he says, saying that she medically abused him.
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That charge of medical abuse is still being fought in court. Dr. Marc D. Feldman is considered to be the world’s leading authority on medical abuse and Munchausen by proxy. He told Health Impact News that he recently testified on Michelle’s behalf that medical abuse by the mother “did not happen.” Medical child abuse is a term that means that a parent is doing things to cause or exacerbate medical problems. Isaiah’s mother only wanted the doctors to help her son with a condition that he has and was suffering greatly from. The seizures at Luries began during surgery, while Isaiah was under general anesthesia.
“My mom had nothing to do with that.”
Further, Dr. Feldman states that “there appears to be literally no consideration of Isaiah’s desire to return home to his mother.”
Isaiah says that he is “still surprised” that they would do this to him and his family. He doesn’t understand why they are doing this. Isaiah and his mom have “always been close,” and he loves her very much. When asked if he thought the doctors considered how this would affect him emotionally, he said, “I don’t think they cared.”
“This has totally affected our whole family. There was no need for this. We have all been deeply affected by this separation. It would have been better if this wouldn’t have happened.”
Isaiah has not been permitted to testify on his own behalf. He has asked a number of times to speak, but has been silenced at every turn. He says he has a legal right to be at the hearings, but he has not even been permitted to be in court, even though this is his life they are discussing. His requests for a new guardian ad litem have been ignored. The reason that Isaiah made that request is because he doesn’t believe this person who is supposed to represent him is speaking for his best interests, acting one way with him and completely differently in court, according to Isaiah. He wants the state to “leave us alone; leave my mom alone.”
Despite everything he has been through, Isaiah still tries to be positive. His pictures from childhood up show a happy kid with a great smile. He misses being at home with his mom and having his room at his own house. He has been allowed to return to his home state of Missouri, but he isn’t at home yet.
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He plans to go to college when he graduates high school. He told the Inquisitr that he wants to go into medicine in the future.
“I want to help people, just like my mom does.”
But he doesn’t want to be the kind of doctor that “lies to save their jobs” at the expense of the families they serve. Isaiah wants to be what he hasn’t seen recently, and take the very things that have been used to harm him and use them for good. He wants to see good come out of all the trauma that has come to him and his family. After all that he has suffered, Isaiah Rider believes that “God has some really good plans for me for the future.”
Team Isaiah is the Facebook page that has been set up by supporters working tirelessly to bring attention to Isaiah and Michelle Rider’s story. Sadly, there are many more families that are experiencing the devastation of medical kidnapping, such as baby Kathryn, the two Deigel sisters and Jaxon’s family‘s family. Many times the parents simply want a second opinion. Children whose parents are doing the best they can to secure help for their kids when they are sick increasingly find themselves battling the system as well as the illness. Their voices, like Isaiah’s, deserve to be heard. Isaiah Rider is a teenager who wants what any normal kid wants: to be home with his mom.