This will be a rather short post, but the topic, I think is important, and worth mentioning. I’ve posted numerous times on the problematic legal and Constitutional issues resulting from Texas’ raid on the FLDS community; however, I think the bad public policy behind this fiasco now emerges:
(Update) NPR’s Nation Today (Hat Tip mmiles)
FLDS The Victim That Wasn’t John T. Floyd, Huston Criminal Lawyer Hat Tip William)
Following the Precedent (By Tracy M over at BCC–absolutely spot on!)
The Salt Lake Tribune reports of some of the FLDS children, after removal from their families and homes are now being hospitalized:
At least three children taken from a polygamous sect’s ranch are in the hospital and attorneys for their mothers say they have received little or no information about their conditions.
Attorneys for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid (TRLA) are working to identify the children, the hospitals, and to arrange for their mothers to visit the children.
“We can’t seem to get anyone on the phone with authority to make that happen and the mothers don’t even know the seriousness of the situation,” said Amanda Chisholm, a TRLA attorney.
The legal aid society, which represents 48 mothers, said one 2-year-old child lost a severe amount of weight while staying at the San Angelo Coliseum.
TRLA said the organization was told two days ago that the child was in shock and lethargic, but has received no new information since then about where the child is or regarding her current health situation.
The mother is not being allowed to be with this child or her other nursing children, Chisholm said.
“We don’t seem to be able to get in touch with anyone who can tell us,” she said. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services said Friday that one child had been hospitalized because of dehydration. Attempts today to contact CPS authorities were unsuccessful.
Of course, I don’t speak for Utah or Arizona; but, this type of easily foreseeable result could very well be one of the reasons Utah and Arizona do not make the same ill conceived public policy decisions Texas made of literally throwing the baby out with the bath water.
Of course, Texas, in its continuing brilliant execution of this debacle, still keeps the mothers and children apart–even those now lying seriously ill in the hospital. What will it take to illuminate the poor public policy implications to Texas officials? Do one or more of these children have to die?
The Deseret News is also reporting the possibility of two lost children, supposedly in state custody:
SAN ANGELO, Texas — As children from the Fundamentalist LDS Church settled into new foster homes this weekend, the whereabouts of two young boys remains uncertain.
Child welfare workers in Texas say they’re not worried. But the mother of the boys and attorneys representing the mothers are not sure whether they should be or not.
“We just don’t know where they are,” Cynthia Martinez told the Deseret News Saturday.
Martinez, the communications director for Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which represents 48 FLDS mothers, said they had information on where the boys were supposed to be taken but can’t confirm anything to emotional parents. It’s indicative, she said, of the fear and confusion the parents of the 467 children taken from the YFZ Ranch continue to feel.
Meanwhile, an FLDS member sent a letter to the governor of Texas on Saturday, accusing child welfare officials of “some of the most horrific violations of human rights that have ever been allowed on American soil.”
It’s pretty clear Texas is not worried about these children. That was evident in the way they have been treated since being forcibly removed at gun point from their homes and families. Yet, the cavalier attitude of these child welfare workers is to say the least obnoxious.
Finally, this troubling article from USA today about another FLDS community in South Dakota, now under that state’s scrutiny:
PRINGLE, S.D. — Just down the dirt road that passes Cookie Hickstein’s home, an isolated group of neighbors has drawn intense interest here in the sparsely populated Black Hills.
The Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS) has put roots on 140 acres of rugged territory. It is the same sect as at the ranch near Eldorado, Texas, where the practice of men taking multiple wives and allegations of sexual abuse of underage girls have sparked a custody battle over more than 400 children.
No such allegations have been made here, but local police worry about whether they can do their job when many of the people in their jurisdiction live in a closed, secretive society.
“It’s difficult,” Custer County Sheriff Rick Wheeler says. “They don’t just open their doors. It’s a locked-down operation, a locked fence. … I don’t get precise answers, and yes, that concerns me.”
South Dakota is among a handful of states where the FLDS has set up polygamist compounds. The others are in Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Texas, and in the Canadian province of British Columbia.
No reports of complaints
Hickstein and other locals were suspicious of the outsiders, who kept to themselves and made it clear with fences and an observation tower that they wanted to be left alone. Sheriff Wheeler is aware of the allegations against the group in Texas, but he says absent complaints or a legal reason to search the compound here, the sect members have a right to privacy.
“It is a delicate balance,” says Custer County State’s Attorney Tracy Kelley. “We need to treat them like we would any other citizen in our county. If we get a valid complaint, then law enforcement authorities with the sheriff’s office would investigate that.”
Sara Rabem, spokeswoman for South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long, says Long “cannot confirm or deny whether there’s an investigation” of the sect in Pringle.
“We haven’t raided the Pringle compound or received any criminal complaint or report of criminal activity,” she says. “It’s something that obviously everyone is watching kind of closely.”
No one for the FLDS or its South Dakota settlement could be reached for comment. Two lawyers for the sect, Rodney Parker of Salt Lake City and Gerald Goldstein of Houston, did not return telephone calls. A visit to the compound found the gate locked and no one to talk to.
Hickstein is uneasy but can’t say exactly why.
“They’re not bad neighbors. I just can’t condone what’s going on in there,” she says.
So, where do we go from here. Just to be safe, since according to Texas officials there is systemic widespread child abuse rampant in the FLDS culture by virtue of their religious belief, should South Dakota compound this problem, perpetuate Texas’ poor public policy position? Should South Dakota raid this FLDS community simply because of unfounded rumor and speculation? There haven’t been any complaints. Still, there are those pesky allegations in Texas–the vast majority of which appear to be untrue.
The sacrifice of fundamental constitutional rights upon the altar of poor public policy should scare all rational thinking Americans–whether they belong to popular main stream religious communities or not. The reverberation of this story across this country will be something to behold.
A couple of other posts worth reading:
MSM Meets FLDS (Dave’s Mormon Inquiry)
A Diabolical High Pressure Marriage (Kevin Barney at BCC)
Raid on FLDS should raise alarms (Statesman Journal Op Ed)
NPR Interviews: NPR recently conducted two interviews, one with an FLDS mother who lived at the Texas Ranch. The other with a CPS official. Have a listen and feel free to comment on the public policy implications of what we are hearing.
Where’s The Evidence of Abuse (Dallas Morning News Op Ed–Hat Tip John F)