Hurling Lap Dogs and Baking Babies : LUSENET : Xeney : One Thread

I saw today that the guy (Andrew Burnett) a.k.a. Road-Rage-Thrower-of-Lap-Dogs-into-Highway-Traffic got three years in prison.

In my city, in the last two months, two families have left their babies in parked cars by accident killing both of them. They won't be prosecuted.

Now if Andrea Yates (Texas Child Drowner) had been in her right mind, she could have come here and got rid of at least one, maybe even two of the kids while shopping at the K-Mart.


-- Anonymous, July 13, 2001


I think the dog-thrower got what he deserved. In regard to the baked babies, if they were truly accidents (neither intentional nor stupid neglect), then they probably shouldn't be prosecuted. But if the incident happened because somebody did something really dumb and careless, I'd say a 10-year sentence would be appropriate.

-- Anonymous, July 13, 2001

I was outraged by the lack of prosecution in at least one of those cases. The one I know about - father and mother drove around with the poor baby strapped in the back seat of a black SUV for hours. They were moving and they left the car parked in various places in full sun during the day and finally one of their other kids who had somehow survived to the age it could talk asked where the baby was. They completely forgot about the child and it baked to death. Isn't that at least criminal negligence or something!? Incredible!

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

I don't exactly see how forgetting where your baby is can be anything other than dumb and careless. I don't think there is anyway for this to be a 'pure' accident.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

Of course not. I don't know the stories behind the cases mentioned, so I allowed that if they were somehow honest accidents, they shouldn't be prosecuted, only because I'll admit that it's possible there is some set of bizarre circumstances I can't imagine that would make it so. But no, I don't see it as very likley that that's the case.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

I was just talking about the Burnett case with my friend Jin-Sae last night, and he said the guy's defense should have been "'s a dog!"

I know I'm the token non-animal-lover in these parts, but 3 years in prison sounds pretty extreme to me.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

Jen ... it's not a matter of whether you love animals or not. I'm not especially fond of the frou-frou lap dog breeds myself. (This was a bichon frise). But there are several factors in this case that make me think the penalty was appropriate, or even a little mild.

In the first place, he acted out of rage. He grabbed the dog through the open window, and even though he claimed he tossed it into traffic because it bit him, what was he doing grabbing for it? What if it had been a baby? Would his rage have blinded him enough that hed have done the same thing?

Road rage in general is extremely dangerous. In this case, he cut her off, cutting in front of her so close that she tapped his bumper (no damage), and for that he was furious at her when it was his fault. I think at least part of the punishment should be based on the fact that he over-reacted in an enormous way to a minor thing, because that's behavior that has to be checked.

Secondly, think of the dog as a piece of property. If she'd been wearing an expensive diamond necklace and he'd yanked it off her neck and taken it with him, he'd be on the hook for robbery, and that would possibly send him up the river for even longer. Even if you don't like dogs, you have acknowledge that the dog belonged to her and wasn't his to dispose of.

Third, the woman thought of the dog as a surrogate child. Now I find this a little disturbing in itself, but the emotional damage to her is significant, and that too is a factor.

Fourth, he fled the scene and . That's always going to be a factor in determining a penalty.

Fifth, according to the testimony of someone who had known him for a long time, Burnett had killed at least one other dog, beating it to death. The man obviously has some anger issues.

Sixth, domestic animals in general are protected by laws most every where against cruelty. While they're not afforded human status and can be euthanized, they're also not regarded as inconsequential. They are sentient beings with some degree of intelligence and emotion, and you shouldn't be able to just kill them with impunity.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

He's in doggie heaven now laughing, singing, no doubt yukking it up at the DogFather's right hand.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

gah, wish i could edit. Will we be able to edit in the new forum?

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

We actually had a similar discussion about animal cruelty before. (I'm not trying to shut down discussion here; just thought you might be interested in the previous debate.)

In regard to the parents who leave their children in the car, I think there is a very simple and human reason why so many of those cases aren't prosecuted: how in the world could you hope to punish someone any more harshly for a careless and horrible act of negligence? Finding your baby dead in the back seat as a result of your own brain lapse has to be the worst thing that could ever happen to a parent. Slapping a prison sentence on top of that just seems like a joke, and I think that's why you don't see those parents going to jail.

That said, I do think there are some pretty fucked-up charging decisions made in cases of parental negligence, and I think a lot of it comes down to racism and classism. Several years ago here in Sacramento, there were two cases that were in the news more or less simultaneously. One was a case of parents in a nice middle-class neighborhood who had left their newborn in the backseat of the car while they were bringing in groceries. The baby was outside for a couple of hours and died from the heat in the car. Obviously the only thing anyone had to go on was the parents' story, but they weren't prosecuted and it was generally regarded as a horrible and tragic accident.

At roughly the same time, a young black single mother had left her children in the bathtub while she went to answer in the phone. The kids were all very young, and I think there were three or four of them. She wasn't gone very long, but by the time she came back the children had been horrible scalded. A couple of them died; I think one lived but with very bad injuries. That was her story, anyway; she said that the two year old had been known to turn on the hot water. But the DA's office prosecuted her for murder, believing that she had deliberately held the kids under scalding water in order to kill them. Ultimately the facts didn't bear that out -- during her jury trial, the DA wound up backing down, saying that the evidence would not support a murder charge, and offering a plea bargain to a child endangerment charge. But this was after that same DA had spent a year telling the press about this horrible monster of a woman who tried to kill her own children.

Now, you don't leave toddlers unattended in the bathtub, ever, and you don't leave a baby alone in the backseat of a closed car, ever. Any of these parents could have (and maybe should have) been prosecuted for felony child endangerment, and I think there's a good argument that the babies in the bathtub was more egregious (because leaving them alone was intentional in her case, and accidental in the other). But look at the different spin and the different assumptions. It was assumed that the upper middle class family was devastated by the loss of their baby, and it was assumed that the black single mom had killed hers on purpose.

I actually don't have any problem with a humane decision that parents who make a terrible mistake have suffered enough and don't need to be further punished by society. That's part of the DA's job, even if it means that she occasionally chooses not to pursue cases she knows she can win. I'd just hope that those decisions were made fairly and evenly regardless of someone's feelings about which types of parents love their children and which types don't.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

Cory: yes, we will.

And just a response to the difference between leaving babies and animals in cars: I think the deal with these parents leaving children in cars is that it truly was an accident; they forgot the kids were there. Usually when people leave animals in cars, they do it on purpose.

I also think that's the biggest distinction between the two cases I described above (i.e., babies deliberately left in the tub, versus baby accidentally left in the car). I'm just don't think it's a big enough distinction to justify a first degree murder prosecution in one case and no charge at all in the other.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

People say the world, or at least this country, is going to hell in a handbasket because (fill in the blank with your favorite gripe here). Everything from abortion to daycare to too much violence on television to not enough sex ed in schools to ... whatever.

I tend to be an optimist. I tend to believe that people have always been people, that society has always been society, that we aren't worse and we're probably a lot better than some times in the past.

But the frequency with which parents are baking their babies to death has just about pushed me over the brink -- how do you get SO distracted that you forget to drop your kid off at daycare and leave them in the car while you go to work (which seems to be the most prevalent situation here). What kinds of pressures are so distracting that you can do that? Are the pressures of living in our society finally at the breaking point, when it's almost an epidemic that parents are killing their kids "by accident?" Not from emotional rage and distress, but from simply being distracted?

This is damned freaky.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

Beth wrote:
I do think there are some pretty fucked-up charging decisions made in cases of parental negligence, and I think a lot of it comes down to racism and classism.


It was assumed that the upper middle class family was devastated by the loss of their baby, and it was assumed that the black single mom had killed hers on purpose

Why make this about race? If it had been a black family that accidentally left their baby in the car and a white single mom involved in the scalding incident I have no reason to believe both cases wouldn't have been handled in precisely the same manner as they were.

By the way, the scalding accident could never happen in our house. I turned down the hot water tank to a more reasonable level. There oughta be some kind of law, as I can't see any downside to doing this.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

Dave Van: Are you an idiot or an asshole? For a while I've been trying to figure out which and this statement just has me stumped. Either you're an idiot who thinks that racism doesn't exist (maybe because you're canadian, I dunno), or you're an asshole who always has to play "devils advocate" on positions you don't even subscribe to just to... well, just to be the forum asshole.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

I have no reason to believe both cases wouldn't have been handled in precisely the same manner as they were.

With all due respect, you don't live in this country and you don't work in the criminal justice system. The fact that *you* have no reason to believe it just means you aren't paying attention.

As for turning down hot water heaters, I believe this woman lived in an apartment building, so that wouldn't have been an option for her. I'd hate to see that passed into a law, anyway -- our house was previously owned by a woman with two toddlers, and one of the first things we had to do was turn up the hot water heater. I don't have kids and I'd hate for the law to tell me I had to take lukewarm showers.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

Pooks (hi Pooks! long time no see), you would not believe how stupid people can be about their kids. I can remember working in a pediatricians' office where parents brought in horribly sunburned infants because they honestly did not realize that little babies need sunscreen too. (Lately there's been a lot more education about this particular issue, fortunately.)

Some people seem to operate in a vaccuum when it comes to knowing how to take care of their kids. Look at the "do not shake a baby" campaign. You would think that people would realize that you shouldn't shake a baby that hard.

I think there are people who actually don't realize how hot it gets in a car when you leave it closed, and that if you leave the baby in there he's gonna broil. Of course, there are also people who are just plain flaky and somehow forget that they had the baby in the car -- we can't blame lack of education about this on everyone, especially since there's been a strong campaign in the local news (at least around here) to demonstrate just how hot a car can get in the summer and why you shouldn't leave your pets in there.

I suspect some people also don't realize that you shouldn't leave the baby in the tub, or on the diaper changer, or in the bathroom with the toilet seat lid up, and so on, and so on. Hopefully as time goes on, some of this will sink in and some parents can pick up a few clues. At least these horrible instances of kids dying in parked cars does provide exposure to the problem and helps educate people NOT to do that.

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001


You know, David, I know I've probably responded to more of your posts than I should have, but the truth is I have to fight the urge to respond to every one. I managed not to respond to your vilification of Bill Gates, for example.

We appear to look at the world very differently. Rather than write me off as "either an idiot or an asshole," why not try to understand my point of view? I've certainly done that with you.

I have been the victim of undue police attention. When I was a teenager who drove a beater, hung around at arcades, and was often out driving around at 2:00 AM I was constantly getting pulled over by the police. So I do understand a little about this issue. But of course I'm white. So I guess there's no racism angle here, is there? But if I was black, it would clearly be racism, right? Riiiight.

There's no denying the black man has some legitimate complaints. Does racism exist? Of course. Does this mean every time something bad or unfair happens to a black person at the hands of the law it's the result of racism? No, it doesn't. That's an invalid conclusion. In the scalding baby case, do you really picture the following conversation going down at the DA's office?

(The following is entirely made up, of course.)

A: Well, what do you think?

B: There were 4 kids. How could she not hear them screaming?

A: She said she thought they were just fighting.

B: The kids were scalded to death. How could that happen if there was already lukewarm water in the tub?

A: Maybe they let the water out and then put the plug back in?

B: She's a single mom and she's black.

A: Say no more. Let's prosecute for murder.

I happen to believe that in this day and age the majority of people involved in law and order are not overtly racist. Therefore, when a mistake of some sort is made I assume it is just a mistake, and not the result of racism. I believe that more often than not this will be the case. -------------------

Beth, I did say there was no downside, and you can rest assured there are no lukewarm showers necessary. My wife likes her showers very hot, actually.

Fortunately, hot showers don't scald or kill toddlers. Water from the tap does not have to be hot enough to scald in order to enjoy a hot shower. (My kids happen to love hot tubs, incidentally.)

-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

Dave: Read this by Beth again:

"It was assumed that the upper middle class family was devastated by the loss of their baby, and it was assumed that the black single mom had killed hers on purpose."

Now, that's either racist or---marriage-status-ist? Given the history of the USA, which do you think is more likely?

I would agree with you that there are relatively few overt racists--- i.e., people who consciously hate people because of their race. Altough there ARE some, even in the best police departments, justice departments, and corporations.

There are plenty of people, at least in the USA, who make assumptions on the basis of race---in fact, for a while racial profiling has been quite the rage in many police departments. Assumptions are deadly---at least in the US.

Trust me on this. These assumptions, purely on the basis of race, are made quite frequently in the US. If it's not as bad as it once was, it's still nothing like it should be.


-- Anonymous, July 14, 2001

Beth, I'm not impugning your knowledge about events in your community, but I'm having a hard time fathoming the idea that either of those decisions were made purely based on assumption. There would have been investigations, interviews, questions, and the decision to prosecute or not would be based on what investigators found ... wouldn't it?

Granted it's nearly 5 a.m. and maybe I shouldn't post until I've had some sleep, but it just doesn't track for me.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2001

Al, Beth just made that up.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2001

Absent enough information, I wouldn't say Beth "made it up." But it does sound like an oversimplification.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2001

I really think we are WAY off track here (and there is no way to teach Dave about institutionalized racism via this forum, but feel free to start another thread if you'd like to discuss it). But briefly: I didn't make it up, and I'm only oversimplifying a little. In each case there was really only the word of the parents because there weren't any other witnesses and it all happened very quickly. And perhaps you aren't aware of how very, very unusual it is for a prosecuting attorney to completely and publicly back down from a charging decision the way that one did in the scalded baby case. She prosecuted the woman for murder, talked about it incessantly in the press, and basically got the entire town riled up about the case. Then in the middle of the jury trial, she apologized, conceded that the evidence didn't support first degree murder, and offered the woman a child endangerment charge -- in other words, conceded that it was negligence, not an intentional act. A complete 180 from everything she had said for the past year.

Yes, DAs offer plea bargains all the time. They hardly ever do it in the middle of the jury trial, after a bunch of time and money has been spent on the case. And they don't apologize and say, "Oops, we made a mistake." It was extremely clear from her statements that she had made an overzealous charging decision and was about to lose her case because the evidence wasn't backing her up. She knew what her evidence was going into the case; she just couldn't back down for some reason.

I'm not entirely extrapolating this from the media reports, although it was pretty clear from the interviews what was going on. I also knew someone who worked on the case, and way back when the woman was first arrested he told me how unbelievable it was that they were prosecuting her for murder and letting the press run wild with the case with absolutely nothing to back the charges up except a feeling that she must have done it on purpose. And that -- basing criminal charges on a hunch about whether or not someone is the type of mother who would try to kill her kids on purpose -- is where racism matters.

Anyway, back on topic, okay?

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2001

Thanks for the additional information. That makes it much more clear.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2001

Okay Michael, how about, "that's just Beth's interpretation and not to be taken as fact." Al took it as a given.

Comparing two completely different crimes (the only similarity, really, is that a baby died) and saying they somehow prove racism is nothing but deceptive. For example, perhaps the woman who was charged with murder changed her story 4 times. That would be a classic reason for prosecutors not to believe a word you say.

Anyway, before Beth starts up with the "drop it and move on"s I had better say somesomething about the almighty holy topic.

Hmmm. I dunno. Three years does seem a little excessive if you compare it to the sentences people get for other crimes. But, you know, throwing a dog into traffic could cause people to get hurt, or worse. Swerving to miss an animal is a common cause of accidents. And in addition to the items on Michael's list the guy showed absolutely no remorse. I hate that. No, in the final analysis I'm happy with the three year sentence. He'll only serve what, a year? I just hope this helps the guy find a little self-discipline in the future.

-- Anonymous, July 15, 2001

I'm okay with the sentencing in both the dog throwing and kid baking cases.

In the first, I think someone who'd so something like that is dangerous. This time it was a dog - it could have been a kid. Or if the lady hadn't had a dog on her lap, he might have punched her. Someone who'd succumb to that kind of road rage is dangerous. Also, a lot of people start with hurting animals and move on to people (that doesn't apply so much her as it does to serial killers.)

In the second, I agree with Beth - what more punishment can you give to people who've accidentally killed their own child? And I think that in most cases, it truly is an accident. People are stupid / flaky / distracted / you name it.

I don't think there's more of this going on, I think it's just more widely reported.

These laws against things like leaving children alone in cars annoy me. They seem stupid and unnessary. 99.99% of the time the kid is perfectly fine when the parent leaves it in the car to run in and get the dry cleaning or whatever. Our parents did it and most of us turned out okay.

I truly think Andrea Yates is psychotic and should get treatment, not punishment.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

Cory wrote:
In my city, in the last two months, two families have left their babies in parked cars by accident killing both of them. They won't be prosecuted.

The thing is, people are never prosecuted for accidents (regardless of skin color, I might add). If you mow someone down in the street and it's an accident you are not prosecuted. It has nothing to do with the level of emotional distress you are feeling.

Cases involving negligence are a very different matter. My feeling is that cases involving negligence should always be prosecuted, as a matter of principle. It helps establish a pattern for any potential future cases of neglect (or even abuse). It ensures the person is punished. How do we know the person involved is really grieving? Allowing a prosecutor to make a judgement call in problematic. And finally, it's just plain justice.

But, you know, maybe the prosecutor's energies are best directed elsewhere. The justice system is one of limited resources, after all.

I don't have a problem with laws against leaving children in cars. How can anyone do such a stupid thing? All it takes is for the wrong person to come along and you're looking at a world of grief.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

Dave, you're not defining your terms. An negligent can be (and almost certainly is) accidental. An accident can involve negligence. Negligence is almost never considered criminal; the criminal justice system mostly deals with intentional acts. There are exceptions, and the majority of those exceptions involve crimes against children.

I'm sure that all those people currently in prison for vehicular manslaughter would be interested in your theories about mowing people down in the street, though.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

The problem is that "accident" isn't a legal term. Negligence has to do with a breach of a duty of care: if you're in a situation in which you are required to exercise a certain amount of care, and you fail to do so, and someone gets hurt, you are probably liable in civil court. In the few cases in which negligence can be prosecuted in the criminal system, the negligence generally has to be worse: "gross" negligence, or reckless disregard for human life, etc. So maybe not just failing to stop at a red light, but instead going through that same light at 100 miles an hour.

If there is a law that prohibits leaving a baby unattended in a car for any length of time, that wouldn't be a question of negligence if you left the baby in the car on purpose -- that would be an intentional act. If you forgot and left the baby in the car with the groceries, that would be a negligent act and I doubt it would violate that statute. I could envision a situation in which accidentally leaving a baby in a car might make you guilty of involuntary manslaughter, though.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

Hmmm. Beth, you're right. I was thinking the word 'accident' implied an absence of negligence. In my own personal world, when somebody gets drunk and mows somebody down with their car, I think it's too generous to call that an accident. However, as you have rightly pointed out, that's not part of the definition. Accidents may, or may not, involve negligence. (I think Cory got what I meant, though.)

To clarify what I meant to say, people are not (knowingly) prosecuted for an accident in the absence of negligence. If you're driving down the street doing all the right things and a kid runs out in front of you and you mow them down, there is no prosecution.

Which of course makes Cory's question more interesting. Is it possible to leave a kid in a car and not have negligence involved?

I would say yes. Parents are often very busy people. It is easy to imagine a situation where a miscommunication leads both parents to assume the other was going to take care of the baby. (In fact, it seems that my sort-of misapplication of the word 'accident' would be a good example of how miscommunications happen. Something that is in my head might not be in yours.) In these cases where the excuse is "I forgot" it's a little less clear. Forgetting the baby? That sure sounds like negligence.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

Criminal negligence is an uncomfortable animal, and the law governing it is a little irrational. We usually only impose a criminal penalty on someone who had an awareness of the thing he or she did. There are very few crimes that don't include as an element of the prosecutor's proof that the defendant had a guilty mind, or mens rea. Possession of weapons or controlled substances and statutory rape are the only exceptions I remember from law school.

Because of the preconception that crimes should have a "mens rea" component, courts usually insert a degree of awareness into their application of criminal law to negligence. As a practical matter, if you can convince a prosecutor that you never perceived a risk, you likely won't be prosecuted. For example, sober people who run a red light at, but not over, the speed limit can claim "I never saw it," and face no prosecution. Drunk drivers or informal drag racers, on the other hand, are more likely to be treated as having knowledge of the danger they caused (because you know when you decide to drink and drive that you might miss a signal that a sober person would not, and you know when you drag race that you might not be able to stop in time).

Same thing with the child endangerment scenarios discussed above. Say you're engaged in a lawful activity like moving your house and become understandably distracted from life's other duties, with the horrifying consequence that you let your child die of heat exhaustion in a car -- you're likely to be treated as not having a sufficiently guilty conscience to face criminal prosecution. If you do the same thing when you're high or drunk, you're more likely to face involuntary manslaughter charges. If you do it while robbing the U.S. Mail at gunpoint, it's likely to be treated as first degree, or "felony" murder, because the courts will transfer your guilty intent -- intent to rob the mail -- to the unintended consequences -- being away from your car for too long. Like I said, it isn't altogether rational.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

Are you sure about that red light?

Running a red light in Canada is not a criminal act. It is covered under the motor vehicle act. Many motor vehicle offences are deemed, "absolute liability" and running a red light is one of them. What this means is that it doesn't matter what your excuse is, it only matters if you did it.

Surely there must be something similar down there. Otherwise, how on earth would they prosecute for speeding? Everyone would just say they forgot about their speed.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

So, I see I used the word "stupid," in describing leaving children in the car. Lest anyone become offended, let me clarify.

I wouldn't call it stupid to leave a carseat bound child in a car if the temperature is okay, and they keys are removed, and the door is locked, and the car remains in sight at all times, and you are only gone for a minute or two. Heck, I've done that myself. I'm certainly not going to carry my kids into the gas station to pay for gas.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

It's true that most traffic offenses are more or less strict liability. But they also aren't really criminal offenses. That probably varies by state, though.

-- Anonymous, July 16, 2001

Yeah, on that earlier post about running I traffic light I somehow deleted the part about assuming that running the red light causes a fatality. In New York, the sober, speed-limit-abiding driver who somehow didn't see the light would likely not face manslaughter charges, while the drunk would.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

I confess to only grazing what's going on here, but I hope that the references to traffic offenses is only intended to be an example of other cases of criminal negligence, rather than to regard leaving the child in a hot car long enough to kill it as a traffic offense.

The car is just the location - the negligence is forgetting where it was. It could have been left out in the rain before going to bed. It could have been left in the grocery cart before going home. Bottom line is you aren't allowed to forget where you put your baby!

In terms of negligence (and granting that I've learned more about law from Beth and others here than I'll ever pretend to know otherwise, negligence has to do with engaging in a major deviation from the level of care that any reasonable person should take, and it becomes criminal when that deviation results in death and that any reasonable person would expect that it would result in death.

Please don't tell me we're becoming a world where it seems 'reasonable' to become so busy that you forget where you put your child? I'm sorry, but that comes with parenthood - you're committing to never blinking or breathing for the next few years without considering that other human being's well being. You don't GET to forget, and just because you're an SUV driving yuppie success instead of a poor single parent, that doesn't mean you should get greater leeway for this.

I probably WAY off legally here, but the 'they've suffered enough' rule only seems to apply if they're nice middleclass suburbanites. If these cases were a poor minority or single parent struggling, not only would the parent be prosecuted but any other kids would be getting yanked away because it's been confirmed that the parent is so neglectful that they forgot they were parents long enough to end their child's life.

I don't think jailtime for something like this does any good - but it DOES happen to certain segments of society and not to others, and I don't think it should be without legal penalty of some sort. I don't feel real sympathetic for someone who can say 'oops, i forgot they were there' about their own kid. We all get tired and have a lot to think about... it's not an excuse.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Yeah, Lynda, you're right. And the "certain segment of society" that sees the most grief is males. 90% of the prison population is male. The way you people tell it this isn't the men's fault, it's the fault of our bad, bad, disciminatory justice system.

Poor people commit more crime!
Black people commit more crime!
Men commit more crime!
That's why they, you know, get prosecuted more.

I agree that "I forgot" is an outrageous excuse. And since Alleline has said there are crimes (like statutory rape) that don't require intent, then why can't this be one also?

As for the traffic offences, we were talking about just leaving the kid in the car unattended, regardless of the outcome. There are traffic laws against this in many states. The problem, I am told, is that traffic laws don't apply to parking lots. Which seems strange to me. Does this mean that I can feel free to ignore Stop signs in parking lots? It would sure be fun to run one right in front of a police officer. ;-)

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Parking lots are generally private property. The vehicle code applies to public roadways.

Um, black people do not commit more crimes than white people. Stop watching so much television. And they aren't treated the same by the U.S. justice system, either. Why don't you worry about Canada and stop spouting off about a country that you clearly don't understand?

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

(Sorry. Didn't mean to offend any other Canadians on the forum. Just this one.)

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Yeah, Beth, I knew that. But does that really mean we can ignore traffic directives in parking lots? It just seems too good to be true.

Can you please point me to which part of that page backs up your claim? There are all sorts of statistics that back up my claim. For example, a black person is 6.5 times more likely to go to prison in their lifetime. (But I suppose you'll claim that's all due to racism.) Of course these statistics must be tempered by the fact that black make up only 12% Would it make you feel better if I clarified by saying, "blacks commit proportionately more crime?"

I'm wondering why, Beth, in every response you feel it is necessary to attack the messenger. Your claim that I couldn't possibly understand the situation because I don't live there is poppycock. It's just a cheap shot and is exactly the kind of comment you might censure where is coming from other forum participants.

You have yet to cite one shred of evidence that the disproportionate number of black people convicted by your justice system is due in large part to anything other than the fact that they commit more crimes.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

I've created a new topic for the racism stuff.

Isms in the American justice system

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Dave, the reason why you so often appear to be either a troll or hopelessly ignorant is because you insist on arguing things regarding the U.S. that aren't even in question for anyone who lives here.

Racial profiling and a disproportionately harsh way minorities and poorer people are handled by the U.S. legal system isn't in question - it's so. You may still find some gits who think that's just fine and dandy, but even the rednecks don't claim it's not the truth.

Yeesh. As to evidence, start with Amnesty International's report on it and then do the research from there if you're interested in doing more than looking stupid. It's not difficult to find.

You know, you'd be a lot better at debate if you wouldn't choose such ridiculous things to try to debate about.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Dave, I personally attack you because I wish you'd go away. I didn't think there was any mystery there.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Ouch. Well, Beth, I'm sure he gets the point... and just so you know, I've never been north of Boston, don't like Maple Leafs, and think that Alanis Morrisette can go to hell as well.

And speaking as the board's "Redneck-in-Residence"... I would agree with you that any sane person in the U.S.A. (as well as our northern annex) -would- agree that racism (much of it overt) is alive and well here. As an off-topic note, I believe that so much racial profiling is done, I've been a long-time supporter of requiring the police to simply indicate the race of any subject they interact with, to therefore allow for tracking of the officer's habits. If you work in East L.A., it will, of course, make sense for you to pulled over more Latino's than not. If you work in Anaheim, it will not make sense if you are pulling over more non-whites than not.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

In the interest of full disclosure... I, ah... well, I -do- like Barenaked Ladies. But I think that they spend more time here than there sooo... uh, ahem.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

You can call me all the names you want, but the basic problem here is that I'm right and you're wrong. I'm not saying that racism doesn't exist. I never said that racism doesn't exist. (In fact, I've already acknowledged that it does, see above.)

My position is that the reason African-Americans are disproportionately prosecuted has more to do with the fact that they commit a disproportionate number of crimes and less to do with the color of their skin.

This, in turn, would be the result of their lower socioeconomic status (which is not their collective fault). People living in poverty tend to commit more crimes. The average African-American family makes just half of the average white family. The plight of the African-American people elicits my sympathy. However, it is just plain wrong to assume that people are being prosecuted just because of their skin color. Yes, on occasion, it can happen. I would argue that is the exception rather than the rule. In the majority of cases, people are prosecuted because they commit a crime.

I was all set to cite figures and whatnot but you people just aren't worth the bother. Clearly your minds are already made up.

And Beth, I'm pleased to see you finally admit it. It is clear from the Valvis debacle and now this that you just can't stand it when people you don't like disagree with you. And when people don't agree with you that causes you to not like them even more. When you can't win an argument you resort to insults. It's a sad cycle, and I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine the underlying psychosis.

I'm still waiting for that evidence.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

What do you mean you're glad I finally admitted it? Have I made a secret of the fact that I wish you'd stop posting here? Jesus Christ, Dave, get some help. You've lost any right you ever had to expect me to be polite to you or put up with your crap, and the fact that you keep forgetting that makes me think you're seriously delusional. The amazing thing is that I let you post here at all instead of deleting your posts as soon as they appear.

You started a thread for the racism discussion; please leave it over there. Or go away. Whichever makes you happy.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

"However, it is just plain wrong to assume that people are being prosecuted just because of their skin color."

Dave has obviously never visited the state of Louisiana. Or any of the American South for that matter.

I better go laugh about this in the other thread before I get in trouble too. But ... geeeeeez ...

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Jette, you took that sentence out of context. I've made it very clear I am not saying it never happens. What I meant was, "When an African- American is prosecuted, it is wrong to assume it is on the basis of skin color." Because there are, you know, much more reasonable explanations.

Anyway, I'd have posted this in the new thread but the link above is wrong. Let me try again.

Isms in the American justice system

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Parents are entrusted with the duty and obligation to care for their children - no matter what. Negligance of children, be it intentional or an "oops! I forgot!" kind of scenario, ought not ever be tolerated.

When a helpless little one is dependent upon the parent for every single need and that parent "forgets" about them and the helpless child DIES, their parental ass ought to be in jail. It's absolutely INSANE to me that these people use being too busy as an excuse for the death of their child and walk away. Yes, I know their hearts must ache, but it's THEIR fault. If the nanny left the child in the car and "forgot," you'd bet his/her butt would be in jail in a heartbeat with the parents wailing on, "how could he/she forget about our child?"

If you can't tell, this one enrages me.

Oh, and three years for killing a dog? Jeezus. No wonder our nation is screwed up. Parents can forget their kids, THEIR KIDS, and kill them as a result and that's fine. A man kills a dog because he's pissed one day and he's in prison for three years.

Our collective priorities are so far gone, it's amazing.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

I know I'm a relative newcomer to the whole parenting thing, but I'm a little surprised to read people who I know are parents taking such a tough line. I know that at least one of them is, by their own admission, guilty of allowing their children on several occasions to injure themselves through lack of supervision. And I suspect we all have little stories that we could tell if we weren't so embarrassed, of turning to get a towel just as the baby leans back and slips under the water for a moment, or walking into a room to find a child playing with something that could hurt them.

I have always felt nothing but sympathy for the parents who make mistakes like this that cause injury or death to their own kids. Yeah, it's a stupid and fucked up mistake. I am convinced, however, that given the right amount of stress and distraction, there's not a parent on this board, or anywhere else, who isn't capable of making a horrific mistake like that.

You tell me if prison time is even a punishment after accidentally killing your own child. There's punishment that makes sense, and there's punishment that is silly. What's the point of putting that parent in prison? To keep them from doing it again? To make sure they pay for their crime? I'd think waking up every morning would be payment enough.

As for the dog-killer, I think the case is more complicated than most people seem to be making it. The guy obviously had bigger problems than killing one dog, particularly a predisposition for violence and cruelty. I imagine that was taken into account when he was sentenced.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Rob, everyone on this board is capable of all manner of things that hopefully most of us also have made a firm commitment never, ever to do.

Athena puts is the best I think - if this were a caregiver other than a parent, they'd be prosecuted for the sort of forgetfulness that led to the death of a child under their care. It is somehow MORE understandable that a parent - more committed in everyway possible to the wellbeing of that child - is somehow less responsible for not being forgetful to the point of causing death?

I think the parents are taking a harder line precisely because we ARE aware of just how tired and distracted one can get - and just how important it is to not allow that to result in harm to your children.

None of the parents that have done this were under any extraordinary pressure - it was a normal, hectic day in their lives. They weren't in a war zone, they weren't being shot at - they weren't doing anything except having a typical day in their life. Under those circumstances, I can't find any excusable reason why they would forget the existance of their kid for long enough to kill it. That's some seriously fucked up priorities.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

I have no sympathy for parents who, through negligence, cause the deaths of their own children. However, I agree with what Beth said, waaaaaaaaay back up at the top of this thread (before Dave Van managed to hijack yet another interesting discussion -- why do people keep responding to him?): namely, if you're the parent of a child, and through your own negligence you allow that child to die, you've already been punished. What's the point of sending someone like that to jail? It's not going to deter anyone else from committing the same crime, because it's not a crime anybody WANTS to commit. It's a crime of negligence. I mean, if anything, we should punish these people by taking away their right to have further children. (I'm not suggesting that we should do this, just that it's the only appropriate punishment I can think of.)

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Actually, Jan, Beth raised the race issue.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

I'm not saying it's excusable. I am saying that proscecuting someone for making that horrible of a mistake seems pointless. It doesn't bring the child back, it doesn't protect society from anything or anyone, and it certainly doesn't teach the parent anything that the memory of their child isn't going to.

I don't know. People make mistakes, ones that they should never ever allow to be made. I know my own love for my daughter, how it is the most powerful thing in my life, how nothing else comes close. I like to think that this love will always keep my from doing irresponsible things in her life, but realistically I think I'd be better off hoping that when I DO fuck up, the consequences are not so extreme.

I do think that the whole "Well, I could NEVER screw up like that!" line of thought is flirting with some serious bad juju...

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

I have nothing to back this up with, but I suspect that very very few of these parents have more children, at least not with the same spouse. Just my gut feeling...

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

I agree that thinking one is incapable (or 'could NEVER do that') is asking for trouble... and I kinda bet that those that did it felt that way. I'm posing just the opposite - that most parents run about a million scenarios for what could happen every single day, and constantly remind themselves to be watchful to ensure that they don't happen. As frazzling as that can be, *that* is what due care is when it comes to kids (and I know I'm preaching to the choir here).

I'm curious why you think they don't have other children? At least in the one case that Beth (i think) mentioned, one of the kids had to finally ask the parents where the baby was.

And no, I already said I don't think jailtime is appropriate - but prosecution is. Other sentences can be imposed, and this would be a good one for some community service time, maybe at parenting classes.

I still have a tough time with the 'they feel bad so be gentle' idea. Why does that work in this scenario, but not in so many others? Why doesn't it work when the parent in question isn't an upstanding upwardly mobile type? Is it just because people are personally relating on an emotional level to what it would feel like than they would if this were someone in far different economic straits or did something we could NOT imagine doing ourselves?

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

I don't know. I think it could happen. I think it's wishful thinking to think that you could never fuck up like these parents did. I only know the facts of two of these baby-in-the-car cases. In one, the parents each assumed the other had taken the baby in and put it to bed (assumed it without really thinking about it, I think), and in the other one, dropping the baby off at daycare was one of a long list of things the father had to do that morning. None of you has ever forgotten to pick your kid up from soccer practice (not even to the point of just getting on the wrong freeway exit, and then remembering)? Remember, none of these were situations where anyone was thinking about death as a potential consequence.

And of course it's negligence. Of course you owe your children that duty of care. But I'll be damned if I want my tax dollars spent on imprisonment that doesn't result in deterrence or any other benefit to society, and in this case I don't see how that's possible.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

You know I love you muchly, Lynda, but I do think that "they feel bad so be gentle" is a gross oversimplification of my point. I think of it more along the lines of "they are destroyed, so what's the point of prison?" I guess the most important point for me is that last one. What purpose does it serve? Is it worth further stretching an overburdened prison system?

And I should have been more clear, I meant that I doubted these parents went on to have any further kids.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

But prosecution does have a benefit to society. It would hopefully discourage the likes of Andre Yates from getting rid "of the kids while shopping at the K-Mart," as Cory so eloquently put it.

Whether that deterrence is worth it is another matter. But it does have some value.

-- Anonymous, July 17, 2001

Apples and oranges, Dave. You are talking about two toally unrealted issues, unless you believe Yates killed her kids by accident.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

But if Yates arranged to drop her kids off at a daycare while she enjoyed an afternoon at the movies, and then "forgot" to drop them off and let them fry while she watched her movies, how would we know it wasn't an accident?

The argument that "losing the kids is punishment enough" assumes that the parent doesn't actually want to lose the kids. People like Yates prove that sometimes parents do want to get rid of their children.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

About eight years ago in Albany, NY, when I spent a sumer there, a father left his 8-month old baby in the car and she died (not positive about the gender). He had put her in the carseat, then driven straight to work without going to the daycare center. By the time the daycare tracked him down to see where the baby was, it was too late. New York didn't prosecute him, essentially because the Albany DA felt the father had troubles enough.

I've often thought about the prosecutor's decision, and never been able to say whether it was a wise or unwise use of his discretion. Admittedly, at trial the father would be as sympathetic an accused as you can imagine. A conviction might be near impossible. On the other hand, how can you not call it negligent homicide?

I guess I'd like to know more about parallel accidental killings. Does anybody know how prosecutors deal with it when a person walks off his or her job in the hospital and a patient dies as a result? Prosecute or not? How about other accidental killers? Does the woman who left her keys in the car get prosecuted when a 5-year old starts the car and rides it into a pond?

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

I'm not sure where the negligence lies in those sitations, but isn't negligence usually a "civil" issue and not a "criminal" one?

Like if my dad goes into the hospital and dies the State won't prosecute the hospital, but I can bring a wrongful death suit against them in civil court. (Lawyers, clarification?)

Of course, personally I'd love to see stockholders and CEOs tried for manslaughter when their profiteering leads to industrial accidents. Of course, some low-level manager would end up taking the fall.

-- Anonymous, July 18, 2001

Adding to the "they've been through enough" argument: A Utah father was charged with negligent homicide for leaving his 2-year old in his pickup truck while the father scouted for good hunting locations. The boy got himself out of the truck, wandered away and was found several days later. He had frozen to death.

The father pleaded no contest and was sentenced Tuesday to 30 days in jail. When he didn't show up Wednesday at the jail, they went searching for him. They found him in the same mountains his boy's body had been found in. He had shot himself in the head with his hunting rifle.

The judge said he regretted his decision if it was indeed a factor in the man's suicide, but it still would not change his decision to sentence him to jail.

The father did intentionally leave the boy in the truck, but he obviously didn't do it so the child would die. You have to wonder, did he kill himself because he couldn't live with that mistake? Then why didn't he kill himself earlier? Maybe he agreed he should be punished, but didn't think 30 days was harsh enough for what he'd done?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

There's little doubt in my mind that he was planning to kill himself all along. Thirty days in jail hardly seems like the thing to make the difference after spending nine months waking up to the realization all over again about what he'd done. I suspect he was just waiting to see the whole court thing through. I try to imagine my own feelings if I had done what he did, and all I can think is that he's a stronger man than I am for NOT committing suicide until now.

If he'd been exonerated of any blame (not terribly likely), I suspect he still would have driven out to that mountain and killed himself. Police say he left no note. Well, no kidding. What else was there to say?

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

If I had to guess (and really, how can you guess?) I'd guess that he might not have killed himself had they given him a lengthy prison sentence. No one kills themselves over a 30 day jail sentence. He killed himself out of guilt, no question, but maybe he waited because some part of him was hoping for an "out" -- i.e., some kind of punishment that would have made him feel like he was paying for what he did.

But my hunch is it wouldn't have worked, anyway.

-- Anonymous, July 19, 2001

For some reason I'm reminded of Arlo Guthrie saying, "You think I'm gonna hang myself for littering?"

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

There also seems to be a difference in these cases--the legitimately "forgot" the sleeping child in the back seat, versus the "I only had to get a few things at the grocery store and didn't want to wake him". The first could be a complete accident, while the second is a deliberate decision (like the guy who killed himself) that results in death. Perhaps it's the second situation that deserves to be punished.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Five years ago I would have completely agree with Rob but it's become such a disturbing trend over the last few years. Each summer seems to carry at least one if not two or three cases. I'm not surprised anymore, shocked yes, but not surprised. It's become all too common. Because of that I wonder if leaving a parent to their grief really is enough.

And I do find the act of leaving your child in the car for hours to be grossly negligent, much more negligent than turning your back for a moment to grab a towel. The idea of completely forgetting my child (or any child in my care) is hard for me to comprehend. I could actually see myself making a stupid choice (i.e. answering the phone when a child is in the tub - one that I have to consciously tell myself not to do if the phone rings while bathing my two year nephew, answering the phone is so instinctive) far before actually forgetting I had a child with me.

Prison sentances seem of no value to me, but I do agree with Lynda that some sort of prosecution should take place. And it is true that if this had happened while the children were in someone else's care there would be no hesitation to prosecute.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

it's become such a disturbing trend over the last few years

I'm not sure it has. I'd have to be convinced. The case in Sacramento was several years ago and it didn't make the national news. For some reason the media has been picking up on these stories lately like they're a new thing, but I'm not sure they are at all. Just like carjacking wasn't actually invented in the early nineties, I'm not sure parents suddenly started forgetting their kids in cars in 1999.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

I feel particularly ambivalent about about this issue; you see, my father forgot me in the back seat of his car. It was a hot summer day in Italy, and he'd driven to the commisary. At 11 months of age, I always fell asleep when I was riding in a car, so he completely forgot I was there when he got there. Luckily, he'd only been in the store for maybe 15 minutes when he remembered I was out in the car. I was fine, still asleep.

But I don't think he's ever forgiven himself for those fifteen minutes.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

I'm torn about this, also. The idea that a parent who negligently kills a child has already inflicted the worst possible punishment on himself/herself appeals at a gut level. On the other hand, leaving a child in the hot car for several hours is shocking negligence.

Rob's point that we parents should be careful of the karmic boomerang when we criticize other parents for leaving their kids is well-taken, but I don't think that means no parent can criticize any other for carelessness. I think Tammy is right to distinguish between leaving the kids in the bathtub for five minutes to answer the phone and leaving a child in a car for several hours. Somewhere in there, and I'm not sure where, there is a line to be drawn.

For myself, when I'm responsible for my kids safety I check on them frequently. Sure, they could still die. In the ten minutes that I'm making breakfast in the kitchen, my son might revert to baby habits and chew on the electric cord to the TV in the basement that he's watching, or climb over the gate to the laundry area and drink bleach. When he's taking his evening bath, he could slip under the water just as I step out to check my voice mail or e-mail (a 3-minute thing I often do when he's in the bath) and by the time I come back he could be dead.

And if one of those things happened, I would blame myself and I would expect others to blame me. When I'm making breakfast or checking e-mail, I know I'm sort of playing with disaster. At the same time, what am I supposed to do, never eat or check my messages from the time the kids get up until they sleep?

I still think this is very, very different from entirely losing track that you have care of the children, and spending hours without at least mentally checking up ("I wonder what Sammy's doing right now? Is he enjoying day care? Damn, no he's not, he's in the effing car").

I'm still not comfortable prosecuting the parents, somehow, although I'm not sure if this is a rational position. But I don't think the parent who takes a call while the tub is filling and lets her child get scalded has done anything comparable to leaving the child in the car for several hours.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

I take exception to the claim that leaving a child in a car in the summer for several hours is worse than leaving a child in the bathtub for five minutes. Both actions could result in the death of the child . And dead is dead, if it takes five minutes or five hours. Leaving a young kid unattended in (eg the tub)or near water (eg a pool) is never a good idea. The messages will be there when the bath is over, the person will call back if it was really important.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

While I feel deeply sorry for this man in Utah, the problem here doesn't seem (to me) to be so much the tragedy of the boy getting out of the car and dying, but the fact that the parent made a conscious choice to leave a two year old child unattended in a car -which is a big, big mistake.

This just seems way less 'accidental' to me than the man who unknowingly left his baby in his car (heartbreaking), or all the examples of parents who look away for an instant only to turn back and see something dreadful happening to their child.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Just to clarify: I don't mean to imply in the above post that it's likely that a child would survive five hours in a car on a hot day. I just mean that both situations are life-threatening.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Also, I don't mean to imply that giving a child a bath is a life threatening experience.

I think I'll just give up now. Definitely looking forward to the new forum and the ability to edit posts.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

I can see that the media coverage could cause the last few years to look as if there is an upward trend. It'd be interesting to find statistics over the last ten years.

Oh and just to clarify, I don't think one risk less negligent than the other (comparing the car situation to the bathroom situation). But, for myself I have to consciouly remind myself _not_ to jump up and answer the phone when bathing a child in my care (I need a cordless) and could see that as an accident I'd be more prone to create. It's hard for me to understand the other, the kids are always in the back of my mind... so I don't know. I guess I am saying that I don't see forgetfulness as a usable excuse. Though I do consider the risk to child as equal.

Okay, now I must take deep breaths because I am deathly fearful of Rob's karmic boomerang. Knowing that I'm just as capable as the next person to make such a mistake is terrifying.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Just read over my first post and I also have to say that I don't feel turning your back to grab a towel is grossly negligent but running to grab the phone while the child is in the tub is.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

I guess I just don't understand how you can legislate against forgetfulness. I'm an extremely forgetful person, and there is only so much I can do about it. I can leave myself notes -- but I have so many notes lying around that any one note is likely to get lost in the mess. I can force myself to think about not forgetting, but I can tell you how that works out 100 percent of the time: I remember that I'm not supposed to forget, but I don't actually remember. (Unless you, too, are experiencing premature senility, you may not be able to grasp that concept.)

And God, no, you should never forget your kids, but I bet I would. I've forgotten some pretty massively important things in my life. And if I were dropping a sleeping baby off at daycare every single day, I'm sure that at least once I'd miss that freeway offramp and go on to work, and then I'd just have to hope I remembered to look in the back seat. (Which is reason number 3,893 why I don't have kids.)

I once drove 20 miles out of my way to go "home" to an apartment and city I hadn't lived in for five years, okay? I'm also known for checking a clock seven times in a row without actually seeing what time it is. (My thought process, as far as I can tell: I need to know what time it is. A clock will tell me that. Oh! There's a clock right there! I'll look at it. Yep, that's a clock all right. Five minutes later: I need to know what time it is ...)

And you know what? This discussion has absolutely guaranteed that if I ever have a baby, I absolutely *will* leave it in the car, because every time I get in the car I will worry and worry about leaving the baby in the car, which will leave me no time at all for actually dropping the baby off at day care. I hope you're all happy; my mom wanted more grandbabies.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Oh, and for the record, my parents forgot me all the damn time. They forgot to pick me up at the skating rink, they forgot to pick me up when I stayed downtown after school (we lived too far in the country for me to walk), they forgot to pick me up after drama practice, whatever. I haven't asked them if they ever forgot and left me in a car when I was too young to remember. Maybe I don't want to know the answer.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

And to go back to the start, a guy in SF quite deliberately ran over a motorcylcist, and got less time I believe. (3 years tops, I think time served will be no more than 9 months).

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

And for that matter, I wonder how many kids will be forgoten because you cannot have them in the front seat in most cars? Yeah, sure, they are not quite as safe up front (asuming no air bag goes off), but you have a much easier time keeping them happy, you are less distracted because you are not reaching around behind you (yeah, I can put a pacifier in the mouth of my baby while she's in the back seat, and I'm driving, but I've got long arms, am flexible, and am trained enough that my eyes don't leave the road).

And all the people who will die becaus the parent was reaching around, and not watching the road.

I'll miss the old car not having airbags, so when I'm alone, I can have my little girl up front, where I can keep her happy. Safer for everyone.

Frankly, my wife is so paranoid about leaving the kid unatened that I doubt we'll do it, not in the bathtub, kitchen, car, what have you.

-- Anonymous, July 20, 2001

Alleline wrote: Does anybody know how prosecutors deal with it when a person walks off his or her job in the hospital and a patient dies as a result?

Just thought I'd toss an example into the mix. Several months ago, a woman bled to death after having an abortion. She bled to death because the doctor refused to come in and check on her, even though a nurse's aide tried to tell him that the woman was in trouble. He left.

If I remember correctly, both he and the head nurse were convicted and sentenced. As you can see, my memory of the details is fuzzy at best, so I will try to find and post a link to an article about it.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2001

I knew I'd find what I was looking for:

Abortion Doc Guilty in Woman's Death.

The doctor was convicted of manslaughter, and the clinic administrator got negligent homicide.

This is the paragraph I'd been thinking of: Prosecutors also charged that Biskind provided little care for the patient as she bled and left for a tailor shop sometime after performing the abortion, even though there were no doctors or registered nurses at the clinic at the time.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2001

Probably off topic (but the real topic depresses me anyway), but next time someone you know is having a baby, do your part to make sure no one forgets the baby - there's a lovely cheap item (a couple bucks) that helps naturally scatterbrained people like me. It's a little 1 1/2" curved stickon mirror you put on your center rear view that lets you see the entire backseat.

Also great when the kids are a little older and and you want to tell them to stop doing stuff without turning around.

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2001

You know, the first time I heard about this phenomenon of people leaving their children in cars was when I was about three years old. My grandmother took me to the bank, and when I asked to wait in the car (I hated banks, I always seemed to get in trouble at them) she patiently explained that babies *died* when they were left in cars on a hot day.

Jeez. Talk about giving a kid nightmares...

-- Anonymous, July 21, 2001

unlurking -

I don't have kids . . the whole "I could forget the little tyke in a hot car" thing just confirms all the reasons why aside from the fact that I just really don't like kids on a basic level. That said, it's just totally surprising to me that TPTB figure that these parents have been punished enough. Could a parent who'd forget their baby for HOURS also forget to feel guilty about it? I'd hope at the very least that if the parents have any other children, those children are removed from the home and any chance of future children is eliminated. Yeah, it's a harsh sentiment but if someone can 'forget' the baby in the car for HOURS, do they really need to be raising any more children? I'm trying to imagine what it's going to be like for the remaining children in these families. How would you feel? What would your life be like?

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2001

"Take away the kids" sounds good until you get to the "and then do what with them" stage. Foster homes? Wards of the state? Is this really the best answer for them? And what if there are more than one of them? Do they get placed together? Are there a lot of foster parents out there taking on multiple children? I'd say the chances of foster care being an improvement in the lives of these kids would be hit or miss at best, unless they were lucky enough to have some celebrity comedienne take them under her wing.

The "not allow them to have more kids" is also a tempting idea until you start to look at that for what it really means: the State (big "s") sterilizing people against their will. Decide carefully if that's a path you'd like to start down...

-- Anonymous, July 22, 2001

Hmmm...did the man hunting "forget" his child was in the car or did he knowingly leave the child in the car thinking "oh, I'll be back in 45 minutes, my child will be fine..." Because those are two completely different scenarios. I can see forgeting or unintentionally leaving a child in a car. Just in Minnesota (where I'm from), a man accidently forgot to drop his child off at daycare and left the child in the car (who later died from the heat.) Now this was accidental, this is something that could happen to anyone. However, if the man said "well, I was only going to be at work for 8 hours and I thought my child would be okay if left alone in a car..." well, that's's's negligent.

Also, for those that think the dog-killer getting 3 years is extreme, it's been proven that people who kill or torture animals (hunters excluded) have been known to have problems. For example, Jeffrey Dahmer and other numerous serial killers were all known for killing and torturing cats, squirrels, rabbits, and other small animals when they were young children and in their teens. This man did the same thing. Is that the actions of a sane and healthy person? Would you really take someone's dog and throw it into oncoming traffic because you were angry? No? Why not? Because you KNOW it's wrong. This man didn't. These people scare me and I feel if they are capable of willingly murdering small animals, they can be capable of doing more.

And accidents DO happen, people. Unfortunately, in the cases of children being accidently left in cars, the punishment is the DEATH of your child. By golly, that seems worse than a life sentence.

If you were driving down a residental street and a small child ran out in front of you and you hit the child accidently and it died, should you be put in jail for 20 years?

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2001

Our receptionist was just saying that a child she knew died last week. He was 11, taking a bath. While his mother was on the phone, he undid one of those bath poufy things (the netting ones) wrapped it around his head, wrapped the cord around his neck, and the other end around the faucet. Whatever happened next, he ended up strangling himself. Horrifying.

-- Anonymous, July 24, 2001

Baking kitties. Guess that's full-circle, huh?

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2001

Way to make me cry. Meanie.

-- Anonymous, August 01, 2001

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