Unbiased Reporting

What I post on this Blog does not mean I agree with the articles or disagree. I call it Unbiased Reporting!

Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly

Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly
Isabella Brooke Knightly and Austin Gamez-Knightly-ILLEGALLY Kidnapped and ILLEGALLY Adopted Out by the State of New Hampshire

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Commissioner: DSS must act within the scope of the law-Then Why Don't They?

Commissioner: DSS must act within the scope of the law

Carol Thompson 07-28-2010


by Carol Thompson

The Oswego County Department of Social Services has come under fire once again after it was discovered that a 19-month-old child was found allegedly in a neglected state by police during a recent burglary investigation in the City of Fulton.

Some residents have been critical of the county’s DSS for failure to check on the family who they claim were receiving public assistance.

Under state law, DSS caseworkers have no authority to inspect the homes of those receiving public assistance of any type.

“I think it’s important for the public to understand that any Social Service Department must operate within the scope of the law,” Oswego County DSS Commissioner Frances Lanigan said Thursday.

A case worker for Child Protective Services cannot simply drop into a home of any county resident unless he or she is acting on an active report passed down from the state, she noted.

Reports of suspected abuse and/or neglect must be made to the state hotline. A representative then makes a determination as to whether a report is to be passed on to the county’s DSS for investigation. If a report is passed down, a case worker will respond.

The only other instance when a case worker can enter a home is when they are contacted by local law enforcement.

Lanigan was unable to speak to the specifics of the Fulton child under confidentiality laws, however, she was willing to speak in generic terms as to the process the department must follow.

“We do not address publicly any specific family or case that may or may not be accessing services whether on a voluntary or involuntarily basis,” she said.

Since the time of the highly-publicized case of Erin Maxwell, the Palermo child who was found to be living in deplorable conditions at the time of her death, Lanigan and the county legislature have initiated a number of steps to better train case workers and alleviate their workload to more manageable conditions.
“Last year we added 25 case work positions to add capacity to investigation for CPS and for on-going service for those with longer term or complex needs,” she said. “All staff have received the required ‘core’ training from OCFS (state Office of Child and Family Services) and CPS response training. They also had a one day training with the State Police on investigative techniques.”

Lanigan said the case workers also have a minimum of an additional six hours training per year approved by OCFS.

“We have instituted a model called “Critical Thinking” that trained supervisors and case workers in an approach to investigations that ensures all aspects of the family are thoroughly assessed,” she said. “Supervisors have also had to attend OCFS training on what to be looking for and how to develop case worker skills.”

Along with the training, the legislature has established a child protection board comprised of members throughout the community who are involved with children.

The new board is modeled after a successful Pulaski-based program initiated several years ago by Legislator Shawn Doyle.

Despite the new training and safeguards, Lanigan said the department must continue to operate within the scope of state law.

“When someone applies for any type of assistance program such as Food Stamps, Medicaid or cash benefits we have no authority to go into the home to ‘check it out’,” she said.


- Valley News

http://www.valleynewsonline.com/viewnews.php?newsid=89204&id=1

Friday, July 30, 2010

New study highlights reduction in number of children in Tennessee’s foster care system

New study highlights reduction in number of children in Tennessee’s foster care system
JULY 16, 2010
by youthvillages
DCS, Youth Villages partnership cited in 34 percent reduction since 2000

Tennessee has reduced the number of children in its foster care system by 34 percent since 2000, while providing more effective help to families, according to a new study released by Casey Family Programs this week.

The study, by Casey’s Common Knowledge project, was conducted to share the examples of states and counties that have been successful in child welfare reform. The study outlines the way the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services has worked with Youth Villages, its largest private provider, to bring about reform.

“Tennessee is a jurisdiction that has achieved a significant and safe reduction in the number of children in the child welfare system,” the study concluded. The complete study is available at www.youthvillages.org.

“Child welfare leadership in Tennessee (including leadership by the legislature, DCS, and the lawsuit monitors/TAC) has been creative and responsive to implementing innovative strategies and supporting them with the performance-based flexible funding structure. Youth Villages has been a catalyst in this environment, but the environment has also allowed and encouraged the organization to be innovative and to expand. The partnership between DCS and Youth Villages has been mutually beneficial, as both organizations have worked toward improving services to children and families to safely reduce the number of children in the child welfare system in Tennessee.” – Tennessee and Youth Villages Common Knowledge Case Study, Casey Family Programs


“This is a tribute to the dedication and professionalism of our staff and our partners across the state,” said Dr. Viola Miller, DCS commissioner. “The hard work over the past few years required us to examine what we were doing well and where we needed to improve. We could not have achieved these gains without the diligence and vision of partners such as Youth Villages. Together, we are helping to ensure the safety and well-being of the children we all serve.”

Some of the key findings from the study:


For a reduction to occur more quickly, the number of children exiting out-of-home care must consistently outpace the number of children entering out-of-home care for a sustained period of time. In Tennessee, entries were higher than exits until FY06. The overall number of children in out-of-home care has been declining over the last several years. Between FYs 2000 and 2009, the number of children in care has decreased by 34 percent.

http://www.youthvillages.org/PDF/2010/TN-YV-Common-Knowledge-Case-Study.pdf

Read the entire article at:http://youthvillages.wordpress.com/2010/07/16/new-study-highlights-reduction-in-number-of-children-in-tennessee%E2%80%99s-foster-care-system/

Ohio Supreme Court: Rights of Biological Parents ‘Precious and Fundamental’

Ohio Supreme Court: Rights of Biological Parents ‘Precious and Fundamental’Posted on July 27th, 2010 by Glenn Sacks in All News, Ohio News, US NewsRead 860 times.

The following is an article by Fathers & Families Board Member, Robert Franklin, Esq.:

This case out of the Ohio Supreme Court does little but suggests much (Leagle, 7/22/10). Reading the court’s dicta, i.e. the verbal embroidery with which it decorates its actual holding, fathers’ rights in adoption cases just got a huge boost.Back in July 2005, Susan Tuttle gave birth to a child. She was married to Jeremy Tuttle at the time and his name was placed on the birth certificate. The court’s recitation of facts leaves us to guess at just how and why certain events transpired, but, a month later, DNA testing on the baby had been performed. It showed that Tuttle was not the child’s father; Gary Otten was. Just who asked for the testing to be done is anyone’s guess. Whether Otten requested the testing or whether he even knew it had been done, the court doesn’t tell us.Whatever the case, not surprisingly, Jeremy Tuttle divorced Susan in November of that year. A little over a year later, Gary Otten filed a suit to establish his paternity rights and presumably to get some sort of a custodial order. But then Susan married another man, Kevin Crooks, who filed a petition to adopt the child who was then almost two years old. In order for Crooks to adopt the child, Otten’s parental rights would have had to be terminated by the probate court.At this point, it’s a good idea to recognize an important fact. There are two types of adoptions - stranger adoptions and non-stranger adoptions. Stranger adoptions are the kind most people tend to think about when they think about adoption. They’re the ones in which a couple adopts a child they don’t know, a child, in other words, who is a stranger to them.

Crooks wanted to do the other type of adoption. He knew Susan Tuttle’s child; he was married to Tuttle and wanted to formally recognize his parental relationship with her child and tie himself legally to the child should the pair ever divorce. That’s a non-stranger adoption.

In the United States, there are about 125,000 adoptions completed each year. Of those, about 75,000 are stranger adoptions and about 50,000 are the non-stranger variety.

Why does it matter what kind of adoption this was? If a stranger adoption doesn’t go through, it may well be that the child will have no parents at all, or at best a single parent. The child may sit unnoticed in an orphanage. If a non-stranger adoption doesn’t go through because the biological father asserts his rights, the child will still have two parents - a mother and a father - the same as if it had gone through. From the child’s standpoint, then, nothing is lost by allowing the dad to assert his rights.

When it comes to terminating fathers’ rights, the adoption industry often likes to pretend that all adoptions are alike, and therefore that if we allow the biological dad to prevail, the child will miss out on having two parents. That can be true in a stranger adoption case, but not in a non-stranger one. It’s an important distinction that those who make money off of completed adoptions often prefer to overlook.

Back to the case. The Ohio Supreme Court held that, because Otten is the biological father, Crooks can’t adopt the child (and terminate Otten’s rights) unless he can show that Otten is unfit.

One important thing about that holding is that Otten had never registered with the Ohio Putative Father Registry. So according to that law, he wasn’t entitled to notice of the adoption proceeding. The Court of Appeals held that his failure to register foreclosed his paternity suit. The Supreme Court said that’s not so. Essentially, a biological father who’s asserting his parental rights can stop the adoption of his child whether he’s filed with the Putative Father Registry or not.

It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of the court’s language in this case. First, it focuses on core principles of parental rights - principles long acknowledged but often ignored. For many years now, I’ve written of my astonishment at the U.S. Supreme Court’s calling parental rights “far more precious than property rights” and then approving the most bald-faced deprivations of due process in cases construing the rights of fathers. Significantly, those are often in cases involving putative father registries.

Here’s some of the court’s dicta:

[T]he right of a natural parent to the care and custody of his children is one of the most precious and fundamental in law…

Few consequences of judicial action are so grave as the severance of natural family ties…

[W]e have held that any exception to the requirement of parental consent (to adoption) must be strictly construed so as to protect the right of natural parents to raise and nurture their children.

Finally! Here’s a court that sees the obvious - that the rights of biological fathers have legal importance, and that courts and legislatures must respect them for the welfare of all concerned. Not only that, as important as parental rights are, in termination proceedings, states’ rights are virtually nil until a parent has been proven to be unfit.

the parent’s interest is fundamental but the State has no legitimate interest in termination unless the parent is unfit, and finding that the State’s interest in finding the best home for the child does not arise until the parent has been found unfit.

Second, I believe that the Ohio Supreme Court is signalling a change of direction in adoption matters. That’s because in two instances it cites, not the majority in U.S. Supreme Court cases, but dissents. That suggests to me that Ohio court is ready to break with the past. I believe that it is ready to turn away from the notion, clung to for so long by so many jurisdictions, that any adoption is a good adoption even though it’s unnecessary. When a fit father wants to be a parent to his child, there is no legitimate state interest in denying him his parental rights.

This case can be viewed as extremely limited and many will argue for that reading of it. But courts often prefer to obscure the full impact of important cases. Judges fear being tagged “judicial activist.” Given the language of the case, I would not be surprised to find it holding unconstitutional Ohio’s Putative Father Registry law at some time in the not too distant future. Either that or so limiting its scope as to render it all but impotent.

And let’s not forget that, just last month, right next door in Kentucky the state Supreme Court ruled that biological parents rights were “inherent and equitable.” Here’s my piece on that case. It too suggested a significant expansion of parental rights based solely on biology.

It’s important to understand what this case does not do. Somehow, Otten learned about his child and was able to assert his rights. Thus the case deals only with a father who was able to make a timely claim. This case does little or nothing to protect a father from whom a mother successfully keeps his child. What if Otten had found out he was the father, not a year later, but five years later? Could he have asserted his rights then? The case doesn’t say because that’s not what happened.

Some day, that case will come before the court and it will have an opportunity to decide whether a father’s rights can be prejudiced by the fraud of the mother. That happens frequently in adoption cases as I’ve reported on before. But this is a court that says it respects the rights of biological parents. We’ll see how far that goes.

But remember that Kentucky case. That’s exactly the issue it ruled on and it held that a father who’d been kept in the dark about his paternity until the child was three years old, could not be denied his parental rights.

As Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a-changin.’”

Robert Franklin, Esq., is a board member of Fathers & Families, America’s largest family court reform organization. To learn more, see www.fathersandfamilies.org.

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http://www.bloggernews.net/124988

Judicial Corruption Exposed-Dr Stephen Baskerville Part 2



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bknxX6As5Xg

Judicial Corruption Exposed-Dr Stephen Baskerville Part 1



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-X16ObZ5FHU&feature=player_embedded#!

Most of the family court judges in america are corrupt pedophiles

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT, AND SELF-HELP

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
SYMPTOMS, TREATMENT, AND SELF-HELP

If you went through a traumatic experience and are having trouble getting back to your regular life and reconnecting to others, you may be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). When you have PTSD, it can seem like you’ll never get over what happened or feel normal again. But help is available – and you are not alone. If you are willing to seek treatment, stick with it, and reach out to others for support, you will be able to overcome the symptoms of PTSD and move on with your life.
IN THIS ARTICLE:
What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD?
Symptoms of PTSD
Getting help
Finding a therapist
Treatments for PTSD
Self-help and support
PTSD and the family
Related links


What is post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)?
Wendy’s Story
Three months ago, Wendy was in a major car accident. She sustained only minor injuries, but two friends riding in her car were killed. At first, the accident seemed like just a bad dream. Then Wendy started having nightmares about it: waking up in a cold sweat to the sound of crunching metal and breaking glass. Now, the sights and sounds of the accident haunt her all the time. She has trouble sleeping at night, and during the day she feels irritable and on edge. She jumps whenever she hears a siren or screeching tires, and she avoids all TV programs that might show a car chase or accident scene. Wendy also avoids driving whenever possible, and refuses to go anywhere near the site of the crash.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a disorder that can develop following a traumatic event that threatens your safety or makes you feel helpless. Most people associate PTSD with battle-scarred soldiers – and military combat is the most common cause in men – but any overwhelming life experience can trigger PTSD, especially if the event is perceived as unpredictable and uncontrollable.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can affect those who personally experience the catastrophe, those who witness it, and those who pick up the pieces afterwards, including emergency workers and law enforcement officers. It can even occur in the friends or family members of those who went through the actual trauma.

Traumatic events that can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) include:

War
Rape
Natural disasters
A car or plane crash
Kidnapping
Violent assault
Sexual or physical abuse
Medical procedures (especially in kids)
PTSD is a response by normal people to an abnormal situation
The traumatic events that lead to post-traumatic stress disorder are usually so overwhelming and frightening that they would upset anyone. When your sense of safety and trust are shattered, it’s normal to feel crazy, disconnected, or numb – and most people do. The only difference between people who go on to develop PTSD and those who don’t is how they cope with the trauma.

After a traumatic experience, the mind and the body are in shock. But as you make sense of what happened and process your emotions, you come out of it. With post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, you remain in psychological shock. Your memory of what happened and your feelings about it are disconnected. In order to move on, it’s important to face and feel your memories and emotions.

Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Following a traumatic event, almost everyone experiences at least some of the symptoms of PTSD. It’s very common to have bad dreams, feel fearful or numb, and find it difficult to stop thinking about what happened. But for most people, these symptoms are short-lived. They may last for several days or even weeks, but they gradually lift.

If you have post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), however, the symptoms don’t decrease. You don’t feel a little better each day. In fact, you may start to feel worse. But PTSD doesn’t always develop in the hours or days following a traumatic event, although this is most common. For some people, the symptoms of PTSD take weeks, months, or even years to develop.

The symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can arise suddenly, gradually, or come and go over time. Sometimes symptoms appear seemingly out of the blue. At other times, they are triggered by something that reminds you of the original traumatic event, such as a noise, an image, certain words, or a smell. While everyone experiences PTSD differently, there are three main types of symptoms, as listed below.

Re-experiencing the traumatic event
Intrusive, upsetting memories of the event
Flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again)
Nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things)
Feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma
Intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating)
PTSD symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing
Avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma
Inability to remember important aspects of the trauma
Loss of interest in activities and life in general
Feeling detached from others and emotionally numb
Sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career)
PTSD symptoms of increased arousal
Difficulty falling or staying asleep
Irritability or outbursts of anger
Difficulty concentrating
Hypervigilance (on constant “red alert”)
Feeling jumpy and easily startled
Other common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder
Anger and irritability
Guilt, shame, or self-blame
Substance abuse
Depression and hopelessness
Suicidal thoughts and feelings
Feeling alienated and alone
Feelings of mistrust and betrayal
Headaches, stomach problems, chest pain
Getting help for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
If you suspect that you or a loved one has post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), it’s important to seek help right away. The sooner PTSD is confronted, the easier it is to overcome. If you’re reluctant to seek help, keep in mind that PTSD is not a sign of weakness, and the only way to overcome it is to confront what happened to you and learn to accept it as a part of your past. This process is much easier with the guidance and support of an experienced therapist or doctor.

It’s only natural to want to avoid painful memories and feelings. But if you try to numb yourself and push your memories away, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) will only get worse. You can’t escape your emotions completely – they emerge under stress or whenever you let down your guard – and trying to do so is exhausting. The avoidance will ultimately harm your relationships, your ability to function, and the quality of your life.

For the entire article:
http://helpguide.org/mental/post_traumatic_stress_disorder_symptoms_treatment.htm

Texas man gets death penalty for beheading 3 kids

Texas man gets death penalty for beheading 3 kids
By CHRISTOPHER SHERMAN
The Associated Press

EDINBURG, Texas – A jury sentenced a south Texas man to death on Thursday, four days after convicting him of capital murder for beheading his common law wife’s three children in 2003.
It is the second death sentence for John Allen Rubio, who was convicted of killing the children all under the age of four – smothering, stabbing and ultimately decapitating them – in a windowless Brownsville apartment.
Jurors deliberated for about four hours before returning the sentence.
Before entering the sentence, Hidalgo County District Judge Noe Gonzalez asked Rubio if there was anything he would like to say.
“I thank the jury for giving me a chance to show what I could,” Rubio said quietly.
Gonzalez, who said he had sentenced more people to death than any judge in south Texas, said he recognized that a lot of people went through what Rubio did, citing his abusive and troubled childhood.
“I don’t know what happened, but I know what this jury found,” Gonzalez said. “I have never seen a crime like this.”
Jurors on Monday found Rubio guilty on four counts of capital murder – one charge for each child and one for the children together.
Rubio was previously convicted of the murders in 2003 and sentenced to death. But a state appeals court overturned his conviction in 2007 because statements from the children’s mother – Angela Camacho – were wrongly allowed as evidence during the trial. Camacho pleaded guilty and is serving a life sentence for her role in the slayings.
At his current trial, Rubio pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity, but the jury rejected his defense and convicted him.
Rubio’s attorneys did not deny Rubio killed the children. But one of them, Nat Perez, said something must have gone terribly wrong in his client’s life for him to have done so. As a final indignity, no family members came to support Rubio, Perez said. “And we called them yesterday to come testify and they didn’t show up,” he said.
Rubio showed his only emotion of the nearly three-week trial during Perez’s closing statement Thursday.
At one point, Perez asked Rubio to stand up and face the jury. Rubio stood, but did not look at the jury with his reddened eyes.
“He’s a child of the Valley, too,” Perez said, referencing Cameron County District Attorney Armando Villalobos’s comment earlier in the trial that Rubio’s crime tore at the very fabric of the Rio Grande Valley.
During the sentencing phase, prosecutors called witnesses who portrayed Rubio as a remorseless killer. Even inside prison, Rubio would continue to be a threat to others, witnesses said.
Rubio’s attorneys argued that it’s unlikely that a man convicted of killing three children would pose a threat in prison. With the exception of setting several fires while on death row, Rubio never attempted to assault inmates or guards, they said. Their experts testified that Rubio’s childhood – filled with violence at home, “toxic” parents, drug use and prostitution – damaged him developmentally and set him on a path for failure.
After being flagged down by Rubio’s brother, police found the bodies of 3-year-old Julissa Quesada, 14-month-old John E. Rubio and 2-month-old Mary Jane Rubio on March 11, 2003, in the apartment Rubio shared with Angela Camacho.
At various times since the crime, Rubio claimed the children were possessed and that he was the “chosen one” intended to save the world. Defense experts diagnosed Rubio as suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, a determination rejected by prosecution experts.
Prosecutors pointed out that in the midst of the murders, Rubio had sex with Camacho, telling her it would likely be their last chance. They were in the process of cleaning up the crime scene when Rubio’s brother and girlfriend stopped by.
The first police officer on the scene testified that after he saw the decapitated body of one child in a back bedroom, Rubio held his wrists out and said, “arrest me.”
The apartment was a step up for a family that had lived on a park bench and in an abandoned building. The state had taken away the children and returned them when Rubio and Camacho enrolled them in government assistance programs.

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/news/worldnation/809352-227/texas-man-gets-death-penalty-for-beheading.html

Thursday, July 29, 2010

San Diego County Grand Jury Cites Further CPS Misconduct

San Diego County Grand Jury Cites Further CPS Misconduct

Oregon Court of Appeals rules mother who tested positive for marijuana shouldn't lose kids

Oregon Court of Appeals rules mother who tested positive for marijuana shouldn't lose kids
Published: Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 4:17 PM Updated: Wednesday, July 28, 2010, 4:52 PM
Helen Jung, The Oregonian

The state cannot take children away from a mother who tests positive for marijuana use without evidence that shows her drug use endangers the children, the Oregon Court of Appeals has ruled.

In a decision issued today, the court reversed a Marion County juvenile court ruling that the state Department of Human Services had jurisdiction over two children, a 19-month-old and a 6-month old. The state had argued that the mother's marijuana use "presented a reasonable likelihood of harm to her two children."



But the appeals court agreed with the mother's argument that the state failed to provide any evidence connecting her behavior with risk to the children.

The children and the mother are identified only by their initials in the case.

The state first became involved with the children in October 2009 when it received a report that a man was selling methamphetamine at the family's home.

DHS workers visited the home and met the father, who appeared to be "under the influence of a controlled substance." The agency later learned that the father was a registered sex offender. The mother arrived home later and denied using drugs.

At the time, the workers found that the home was clean, the children had appropriate food to eat and they appeared "happy and healthy," the appeals court wrote in its decision. A DHS worker also had testified that the mother "appears to have appropriate parenting skills."

The parents agreed to have the two children stay with their maternal grandmother while DHS checked to see whether the father had completed his required sex offender treatment. During that time, a urinalysis from the mother came back testing positive for marijuana.

The mother admitted using the drug at a party a week or two earlier but said she did not use it frequently and never used it around the children. A test taken a few weeks later came back negative for marijuana and other drugs.

But the state had trouble getting in touch with the mother, who did not have a working phone and did not show up to a December 2009 meeting, according to the appeals court decision. She eventually did meet with DHS but failed to submit another urinalysis as requested.

It was "the accumulation of things" that led the juvenile court to conclude that the mother had a chemical abuse problem and find that the state had jurisdiction over the children.

But in reversing the decision, the appeals court said "the record lacks evidence showing that mother's use of marijuana, her 'chemical abuse problem' as found by the trial court, is a condition or circumstance that poses any risk to her children. That evidence is necessary to establish jurisdiction over the children."

The case goes back to the juvenile court, said Holly Telerant, attorney for the mother. She declined to comment on where the children are living currently. The Department of Human Services did not immediately have comment.

-- Helen Jung

http://www.oregonlive.com/pacific-northwest-news/index.ssf/2010/07/oregon_court_of_appeals_rules_mother_who_tested_positive_for_marijuna_shouldnt_lose_kids.html

Child Welfare Experts Urge Congress to Expand Title IV-E Waivers Hearing focuses on impact of more family preservation services

Latest News
Child Welfare Experts Urge Congress to Expand Title IV-E Waivers
Hearing focuses on impact of more family preservation services
(July 29, 2010)
by Patrick Boyle
The federal government should expand a flexible funding program that helps states and counties reform their child welfare systems and keep more children out of foster care, a panel of experts told a congressional committee Thursday.

States participating in the demonstration program, known as the Title IV-E wavier, which allows federal funding to the state to be shifted into different services, have improved their child abuse and neglect prevention and family preservation, the witnesses told the House Subcommittee on Income Security and Family Support, under the Ways and Means Committee.

“The waiver has shown dramatic impacts,” said George Sheldon, secretary of Florida’s Department of Children and Families. For example, he said, the number of children in out-of-home care has dropped by 36 percent in the four years since his state was granted a waiver.

He and others told the subcommittee that expanding the waiver program to other states should be part of a larger reform of child welfare financing that would focus more on family preservation and permanency placement for youths removed from their homes.

Under the waiver program, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) allows specific states to spend funds they get under Title IV-E of the Social Security Act on efforts to keep children out of foster care. Normally, Title IV-E money is spent on services and administrative costs for youth in foster care.

Experiments began under the Clinton Administration in the late 1990s in Indiana, North Carolina, Ohio and Oregon, and have since expanded. The waivers vary by state and typically are not statewide. Studies have found some promising results in reducing out-of-home placements and the duration of placements that are made, and in increasing permanent placements for youths who had been removed from home.

Several child welfare advocates, such as Casey Family Programs, want Congress to give HHS authority to grant IV-E waivers to more states, which prompted yesterday’s hearing, chaired by Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.).

McDermott’s own state is trying to institute new reforms while facing a state budget crunch and cutbacks in federal funding. “We really feel this waiver would help us,” said Washington State Rep. Ruth Kagi (D), because it would allow the state to use some IV-E money for services to keep families together.

Another reason it might help: The waiver in Florida required the state to maintain the level of child welfare funding in effect at the time the waiver was granted, and provides for small annual increases. Those provisions keep the state from using the federal money to replace state expenditures. Casey CEO William Bell told the subcommittee that for future waivers, “I would suggested that we absolutely maintain the ‘maintenance of effort provision.’ ”

A recent report from Casey supports the waivers and reviews their impact in several states.

Fred Wulczyn, a research fellow at Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago, testified that the most consistent positive effects of the waivers involve using the money for subsidized guardianship, under which relatives are paid to help care for children who have been removed from their parents.

While the advocates focused on the cost-neutrality and potential savings of the waivers, because they allow existing funds to be shifted to different services, Rutledge Hutson of the Center for Law and Social Policy (CLASP) appealed for more funding.

“We’ve got to have a infusion of funds,” especially for preservation services, said Hutson, director of child welfare policy at CLASP. “The current financing structure is at odds with achieving the outcomes we want to achieve.”

“If we really want to improve the outcomes, we have to take on comprehensive finance reform,” Hutson said.

The witnesses’ prepared testimony and a link to the hearing are here.

http://www.youthtoday.org/publication/article.cfm?article_id=4188

Child Welfare Advocates Clash Over Rhode Island

Child Welfare Advocates Clash Over Rhode Island
YouthWorkTalk


Posted by
Patrick Boyle Home

– Child Welfare Advocates Clash Over Rhode Island
7/26/2010
With Rhode Island’s child welfare system facing a lawsuit by one advocacy group, another advocate has taken aim at both the state and the plaintiff.

Richard Wexler, head of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, held a news conference in Rhode Island Thursday to issue a 64-page report calling the state “the child warehousing capital of America.” The report, State of Denial: Why Rhode Island’s Child Welfare System is so Dismal – and How to Make it Better, says the state removes children from their homes 80 percent more frequently than the national average, and places them in the poorest of group homes and institutional care.

Children’s Rights, a New York-based advocacy group, also believes Rhode Island’s child welfare system is a mess, and in 2007 joined a class action lawsuit by the state’s child advocate, Jametta Alston, against the state Department of Children, Youth and Families in an effort to force reforms. In June, the federal First Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the lawsuit, which had been thrown out by a lower court. The case is now awaiting reassignment to a judge.

Wexler charged that reforms pushed by Children’s Rights in other states rely too heavily on continuing to remove children from their homes, and that any settlement in Rhode Island would probably “exacerbate” that practice. He called for a settlement emphasizing “safe, proven alternatives to taking away so many children in the first place.”

Susan Lambiase, associate director of Children’s Rights, replied via e-mail that Wexler’s report “identifies issues we have been trying to get Rhode Island officials to address” through the lawsuit, including “the growing number of children placed in large, unsafe institutional settings.” She said lawsuits by Children’s Rights in other states led to changes that include reducing foster care populations.

The nonprofit National Coalition for Child Protection Reform advocates alternatives to removing children from their homes. The nonprofit Children’s Rights has brought class actions lawsuits against several states to reform their child welfare systems.

http://www.youthtoday.org/talk/comments.cfm?blog_id=377

DCF Secretary to testify in D.C. on foster care

DCF Secretary to testify in D.C. on foster care


THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The head of the state's child welfare agency will testify in Washington D.C. about how states can use federal funds to keep children out of foster care.
Florida's Department of Children and Families was the first to accept a federal waiver that allows unprecedented flexibility in funding abuse prevention services, which include parenting classes, substance abuse and mental health treatment and even emergency cash assistance.
The flexibility allows the department to keep more families together by offering them help up front, instead of removing the children first. DCF has reduced the number of foster children by 36 percent since 2007.
DCF Secretary George Sheldon will speak before a U.S. House Subcommittee on Thursday.


Read more: http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/07/29/1751848/dcf-secretary-to-testify-in-dc.html#ixzz0v5JTyyYB

Couple in custody after 8 dead babies found in plastic bags Infants' corpses buried in village in northern France

Couple in custody after 8 dead babies found in plastic bags
Infants' corpses buried in village in northern France

Luc Moleux / Reuters
Police outside the home of a couple who was expected to appear in court Thursday after police found the corpses of eight newborn babies in their village in northern France.
msnbc.com staff and news service reports
updated 7/29/2010 4:29:27 AM ET
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A French couple was expected to appear in court Thursday after police found the corpses of eight newborn babies in a village in northern France.
A judicial official said the corpses were found in two places in Villers-au-Tertre, a village of about 700 people not far from the city of Lille.
"Two people are being held in custody. They are the mother and father of the children," public prosecutor Eric Vaillant told Reuters.
French newspaper Le Figaro reported two of the bodies had been hidden for more than 20 years.
"What is certain is that the new born babies all had the same parents. They were stuffed inside plastic bags and then buried," an unnamed detective told the U.K.'s Daily Mail.
They were being held on suspicion of concealment of a corpse and failing to report a crime, the BBC said, adding that the couple were due to appear in court Thursday.
The couple had two grown-up daughters, reportedly in their 20s, and were grandparents, a local resident told Agence France Presse.

'Wouldn't harm a fly'
One teenage girl said the couple's daughters were nice girls and described the mother as a simple, quiet woman "who wouldn't harm a fly," AFP reported.
"These are attractive, helpful, polite and courteous people," a neighbor, a man in his 50s, told the news service.
They had done nothing to suggest that they might be capable of abnormal behavior, he said. "The husband was even elected to the town council," he added.
Radio France International said the man worked in the building trade was and his wife was a nursing assistant.
Police cordoned off the house with yellow-and-black tape and the house stood with doors and windows shuttered Wednesday night. The prosecutor for the Nord region was planning a news conference Thursday.
An initial report by French radio that the mother had admitted to "systematically" killing her babies without telling her husband was later rejected by a police source, the U.K's Guardian newspaper said.
Pregnancy denial
France has seen a string of cases in recent years of mothers killing their newborns and saving and hiding the corpses.
In one case, Celine Lesage was sentenced in March to 15 years in prison after acknowledging in court that she killed six of her newborns, whose corpses were found in plastic bags in her basement in northwest France.
Another Frenchwoman, Veronique Courjault, was convicted last year of murdering three of her newborn children.
Her husband discovered two of the corpses in a freezer while the two were living in South Korea.
During the trial, psychiatrists testified that she suffered from a psychological condition known as "pregnancy denial."
Germany also has seen similar cases. In one, a woman was convicted of manslaughter in 2006 and sentenced to the maximum 15 years in prison for killing eight of her newborn babies and burying them in flower pots and a fish tank in the garden of her parents' home near the German-Polish border.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/38462248/from/toolbar

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Two young parents face off against DHS to regain custody of their twin boys.


Two young parents face off against DHS to regain custody of their twin boys.
By Michelle Andujar
from WillametteLive, Section News
Posted on Wed Jul 28, 2010 at 09:35:17 AM PDT

Alyssa and Chris Weber had the same kindergarten teacher but they didn't meet until grade school. They started dating when she was a junior in high school.

"We used to hit each other over the head with a pop bottle," recalled Alyssa. Soon after, he proposed: "He did a knee slide up to me in the cafeteria and asked me to marry him with a ring and everything," she said.

"I didn't have a rose in my mouth. That was the only off key," added Chris.

The Webers married in 2008 at Stayton Pioneer Park. Alyssa had just found out she was with child. "We were both happy ... and shocked, and kinda scared because of the fact that we were homeless," she said. They hadn't been able to make the rent and were living in their Chevy Lumina for a few weeks. Upon receiving the news, they moved in with Alyssa's grandmother until their twin boys, Aiden and Zander, were born. Soon after, they found a place of their own.

"Two weeks after we moved out, DHS took our kids," said Alyssa, who was eighteen at the time.

She had noticed two-month old Zander was fussy and wasn't moving normally. Concerned, she rushed him to the emergency room. An x-ray revealed he fractured his clavicle, but an ER doctor explained that this kind of injury is common in babies, often caused by the birth process, and that they may go undetected because children so young don't move around very much. Zander's fracture was left to heal on its own.

At the time, the Webers didn't know what could have caused the fracture.

The hospital called the child abuse report hot line in March '09. "It is our policy [that we report] any child up to age two with any fracture that is not associated with a motor vehicle accident," said Julie Howard, Salem Hospital spokesperson.

The Marion County child abuse expert ordered full body x-rays of both boys, which revealed a possible fracture on Aiden. When investigators could not get a clear answer of how either injury may have happened, DHS [Department of Human Services] took custody of the twins, suspecting child abuse.

Soon after, it was confirmed that Aiden never actually suffered a fracture, but by then it was too late.

"We all sat around and thought what could've caused Zander's fracture. Within a week after they were taken, we figured it out," said Alyssa. "We were on our way to go pick up my mum and go shopping. She would help us out with what we needed that we couldn't get with food stamps. I noticed the car seats were a little snug but we were already late to pick her up. We almost rear-ended someone. I slammed on the brakes to avoid an accident."

The day before the almost-accident, the boys had received shots and Alyssa was expecting them to be fussy, which is why she said she did not noticed he was hurt.

"We told DHS what happened and they still said the cause was undetermined," she said. "We didn't agree with that report."

Authorities dropped all criminal abuse charges but DHS founded them for neglect because of the 'unexplained' injury.

As part of the DHS investigation, the Webers submitted to DHS psychological tests. A DHS-appointed psychiatrists diagnosed Alyssa with depression, anxiety and ADHD. Chris was diagnosed with PTSD and ADHD, and was told he needed to "grow up and mature."

"When they found out it wasn't child abuse and that we were gonna do everything possible so that it didn't happen again, they told me that I wasn't mentally stable enough to care for twin boys when I was doing it fine before," she said. "I only made one mistake which was not loosening up their car seats before leaving the house."

The Webers did say they have been sad.

"It's hard enough every morning waking up and not seeing the boys in our house. We stored all their toys in her grandma's house so we didn't have to see them," said Chris.

Two weeks after the call to the hot line, a juvenile court judge granted DHS temporary custody of the children, while DHS stated they would "continue to seek jurisdiction of the children." The conditions for return included the parents' cooperation with treating their mental health issues and them proving they had the knowledge and ability to parent.

"How do they know that I can't parent when they haven't even given me the chance to try and I'm a first time parent?" questioned Alyssa.

The twins have been in foster care for the last sixteen months. During this period, the Webers found an infected gouge on one of the boys' heads, it was revealed that they had received a double dose of vaccines, and the kids were taken out of state, they said.

"I didn't see anything stating that they had permission from the judge. They went to a wedding for a family that wasn't even their family and we missed a home visit over it," said Alyssa.

Since the boys were taken, the Webers have been allowed to visit them a couple of hours a week in a DHS location supervised by a note-taking observer.

In August'09, DHS had noted the parents' strong bond with the babies. Yet by December, the Webers failed to meet many of the DHS workers' standards. They stated a lack of bonding with the children; they commented on the Webers' appearance, which was "unkempt;" they made "little eye contact" and they claimed the children made less vocalizations and attempts to stand up when around their parents than with the foster parents.

They stated: "Both children are very attached to their foster parents ... both children do not appear to have a strong bond with their parents."

The Webers agree. They say the time spent away, the limited visits and the children's young age have contributed to their lack of proper bonding.

"Other DHS kids may seem like they are bonding better with their parents because they are older," said Alyssa.

"Our boys don't look at us as parents, they look at us as the Monday babysitters," said Chris, adding that a joyful DHS employee told him one of the boys said "hi dada" to the foster parent. "It was good news because they're talking but it was a slap in the face, it was like saying 'Guess what, your kids don't believe in you."

Alyssa said, "It hurts. It doesn't feel right. I carried them for practically 9 months. We're the ones who created them. I went through the c-section and the recovery time. I spent all those nights taking care of them and I make a single mistake and someone else gets to have my kids."

In order to improve their bonding skills and meet DHS requirements, the Webers took a class called "How to bond with your child," which recommended parents to "use your babies as weights to benchpress" among other things. They also had several meetings with parenting counselors.

Their efforts were in vain. DHS stated that they had failed to demonstrate their newly acquired skills; for example, by not using the DHS toys. "We used the toys. And we have recorded every visit until DHS told us we weren't allowed to record anymore," said Chris.

In the first part of 2010, the State's plan continued to be returning the kids to their home and the couple had made some progress in DHS' opinion: Alyssa was engaged in counseling and taking medication, and they had taken parenting classes. They were ready for Aiden and Zander to come home. "We baby proofed our whole house," said Chris.

Then, in June '10, there was an unexpected turn of events: DHS recommended that the plan for Aiden and Zander be changed from return to parent to adoption, based on visit observations and the fact that Chris had failed to get a job and attend counseling.

"It all changed when the foster parents said they wanted to be permanent guardians for the boys," said Chris. "DHS always had their mind set on adoption," added Alyssa.

Indeed, a May 2009 court document stated that adoption was a concurrent plan. "It doesn't seem right when it says that that early," said Chris.

They believe that their boys are very desirable candidates for adoption because they're younger than most kids who enter the foster care system and they're identical twins.

"They won't remember their parents if they're adopted out now. On a little one they can change their last names, they can make them believe they're the real parents. And identical twin boys are like gold for people because not everybody can have twins and twins get the most attention," said Alyssa, adding that people used to stop her constantly to praise her babies.

A juvenile court judge will make a final decision August 30th at 2:00 p.m.

"Chris has a job now and he got into counseling," said Alyssa. Chris is confident that the boys will come home this time, but Alyssa said, "I don't want to get my hopes up."

Added to their fears is the fact that Alyssa is now seven months pregnant. She is expecting another boy, who will carry the name of Iven James.

"I should be happy about this pregnancy but all I am is terrified. DHS told me I'm red flagged. They told me, 'If you're gonna have it in the hospital we're gonna be there ready to pick it up,'" she said. "They are saying we are not stable enough to have either the twins or Iven."

Gene Evans, communications officer for Child Welfare, said it's very rare for DHS to be in the hospital when an infant is born, but he said, "It does happen if there's a danger but not because another child is in DHS."

He continued, "Every case is different. Every case starts with someone reporting a child is in danger." He also said that a report could come from a DHS employee if they thought either parent presented a danger and that they are in fact mandatory reporters.

Evans said that potential issues could be drugs, alcohol or even mental illness, including depression, but DHS would need a reason beyond just the depression per se, such as deeming the mother unable to make decisions. "It's about the mom's behavior," he said.

The Webers plan to have Alyssa's father adopt Iven before he's born, but they haven't started the process because of a lack of resources, and a hope that the judge will rule in their favor before they need to resort to that.

At her young age of twenty, she is thinking about having a hysterectomy. "I'm thinking about having my tubes tied after this one because of all the troubles with DHS. I'm too terrified at having more babies yanked from me," she said. The Webers wanted a large family.

"We had a lot of hopes and dreams for our kids, like how we would spend our first holidays," said Alyssa. "We haven't had a single holiday with them. I've requested them, and I said I would agree to having supervision the entire time, and nothing. They say 'we're closed for that.'"

The Webers have a clean record. "We don't do drugs, we're completely clean people," said Chris, adding that they are peaceful people and that he never even curses. "In over seven years he's yelled at me once or twice, and that was only to get my attention," added Alyssa.

They think their financial situation acted against them, particularly in their inability to hire a lawyer. "I got a court-appointed attorney. They work for the state, doing what the state wants," said Alyssa.

There is one loophole, but they're not confident it will help. Chris is Native American, Ojibwa, Black Foot, Cherokee and Cheyenne. However, he doesn't have an official statement of his background. "I've been trying to find my grandfather my whole life," he said.

DHS rules apply differently to Native Americans. "It would be up to the tribe to decide whether or not the boys can come home," he said. "But it's up to DHS."

The requirement to achieve Native American status may vary. "In some cases it could be 1/2 and for others it could be 1/16," stated Evans.

The May 2009 record stated that DHS was "still researching whether the [Indian Child Welfare Act] would apply to this case." The Webers have yet to receive an answer.

Though they believe their case is unfair, they say sometimes DHS is justified, as in Chris's case. He was abused as a child and grew up in foster homes.

"DHS is taking an Oregon kid unrightfully," said Alyssa. "I believe that DHS Child Welfare in the state of Oregon has become corrupt with either money or power and are beginning to discriminate against young parents or parents with minor mental health issues."

According to Chris, DHS would have returned the kids faster if he had left Alyssa. "The judge said my mental disabilities don't inhibit my ability to parent, but Alyssa's disability would."

The Webers owe DHS a few thousand dollars for their boys' stay. "$365 dollars per month for each. It's like a daycare fee," they agreed.

States fund their own child protective services, with large amounts of help from the federal government. Additionally, states receive federal incentives for increasing the number of foster children who are adopted out.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children and Families, Oregon received $220,000 in 2009 for increasing its rate of adoptions compared to previous years.

"They say that they are there to help put families back together but that is a lie," Alyssa stated. "They are there to rip them apart and get the money while doing so."

http://willamettelive.com/story/Two_young_parents_face_off_against_DHS_to_regain_custody_of_their_twin_boys114.html

Lyons: Government is daring to keep kids on drugs

Lyons: Government is daring to keep kids on drugs

By Tom Lyons

Published: Sunday, July 25, 2010 at 1:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, July 24, 2010 at 7:32 p.m.
Apparently the U.S. Food and Drug Administration had at least heard about the suicide of Gabriel Myers.


Myers' death by hanging happened in a Florida foster home last year, but that wasn't the main reason it triggered a major reaction at Florida's Department of Children and Families.

The real reason: He was 7 years old.

Whatever else might have helped lead such a young child toward ending his life, one detail was impossible to ignore: The boy was being treated with three different psychotropic medications.

Medications of that sort make some people more depressed or even suicidal, and their effects when combined are harder to predict, especially in children.

So DCF did a quick check on how many foster children were being given such drugs. Troubling facts emerged.

Not only was the percentage high, it was not really known. And, in more than a third of known cases, required approval permission documents were missing.

DCF Secretary George Sheldon quickly acknowledged the problem and started a study group to learn more and give advice. And a year later, the picture is at least more clear. Very few files lack required documentation now. And when I asked for the most current numbers, they were available, and somewhat lower. In the Sarasota-Manatee-DeSoto county region, 11 percent of foster children are given psychotropic meds. Statewide, it is 13 percent.

Some critics insist too many foster parents, lacking the skill or patience to work with troubled children who arrive as strangers, are still too quick to see medication as the way to curb problem behavior or just keep foster children quiet, no matter the side effects.

To read this entire article, please go to:
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20100725/COLUMNIST/7251032/2055/NEWS?p=1&tc=pg

Things You Should Know About Methadone

Recovery Helpdesk
heroin, oxycontin & addiction + methadone, suboxone & recovery
Series: 10 Things You Should Know About Methadone (Number 6)
by RECOVERYHELPDESK on FEBRUARY 14, 2010 ·
1. Methadone is a medication used to treat opiate dependence

2. Methadone prevents withdrawal, limits cravings and blocks the effects of heroin, oxycontin and other opiates

3. Opiate dependent people who are in treatment with methadone live longer

4. Long term treatment with methadone is better than short term treatment with methadone

5. A low methadone dose is not necessarily the best methadone dose

6. Methadone is the gold standard treatment for pregnant women who are opiate dependent

7. Methadone has drug overdose risks and benefits that you should understand

8. Methadone treatment requires a strong commitment to recovery

9. Methadone-assisted recovery is real recovery

10. Methadone is the single most effective treatment for opiate dependence

Methadone is the best treatment for pregnant women who are opiate dependent.

Please read the entire article at:
http://www.recoveryhelpdesk.com/2010/02/14/series-10-things-you-should-know-about-methadone-number-6/

'Socially inept' Pennsylvania judge gets 2-month suspension

'Socially inept' Pennsylvania judge gets 2-month suspension
Published: Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 6:20 PM Updated: Tuesday, July 20, 2010, 6:55 PM
The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — A district judge described by his attorney as “socially inept and challenged with women” was suspended without pay Tuesday for two months for behavior that included calling female lawyers repeatedly and making uninvited visits to their homes or offices.

The Court of Judicial Discipline also placed North East District Judge Gerard Alonge on probation until his term expires at the end of next year and directed him to continue getting mental health treatment.


Alonge, 51, apologized in court for behavior that the court described as “bizarre and weird” and “conduct akin to ’stalking.’ ”

“Never did I act or speak with malice, nor did I ever seek to cause distress to the women,” Alonge said during a court hearing that included videotaped testimony by lawyers who praised his work as a judge.

After the decision, his lawyer said he was satisfied with the result.

“He’ll comply with all the conditions and hopefully put this matter behind him and hopefully get back to work,” attorney Philip Friedman said.

In a 20-page written opinion issued last month, the court said Alonge called the women repeatedly — often at night, even after being told to stop — and learned intimate details of their private lives that suggested he had investigated them.

“This is beyond unsettling — this is scary,” wrote Judge Joseph M. James for the seven-member court.

A part-time public defender arrived home in October 2007 with her young son in the car and was surprised when Alonge pulled in behind her, introduced himself and said he was there “to meet the phenomenal and sensational attorney” he had heard about.

When Alonge called her the next night, the woman told her boyfriend, “It appears as though I have a man freak on my hands,” according to the opinion.

“We regard this conduct ... as preposterous and certainly as demonstrating an appalling lack of judgment and good sense,” James wrote.

Friedman described his client as “socially inept and challenged with women,” a harmless would-be Romeo who hasn’t dated in years. He said the never-married judge has difficulty picking up on social cues, takes medication and sees a psychologist weekly for help with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

“This is not a case about a district judge using his office for personal benefit,” Friedman told the court.

But Joseph A. Massa Jr. with the Judicial Conduct Board, which pursued the case against Alonge, said the actions in question did have a link to his status as a judge.

“But for his judicial position, he would not be in a position with these five specific individuals to act as he did,” Massa said.

A second charge, that Alonge had misrepresented his professional credentials when running for office, was previously withdrawn.

http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2010/07/socially_inept_pennsylvania_ju.html

Ex-Teacher Melinda Dennehy Pleads Guilty: Sent Nude Photos of Herself to Student

Ex-Teacher Melinda Dennehy Pleads Guilty: Sent Nude Photos of Herself to Student
By Beth Shaw

Ex-teacher Melinda Dennehy has plead guilty. She is alleged to have sent nude photos of herself to one of her students. She sent him text messages and emailed photos that showed exposed her genitals. The way she was found out and how she was identified as the sender are a story in themselves. Read more below and see her photo mugshot and a video report of the story.


Things started heating up at Londonderry High School in Derry, New Hampshire when nude photos of former high school teacher Melinda Dennehy began circulating around the high school. The 41-year-old Dennehy was identified as the person in the photos. She was put on administrative leave, with pay, but resigned three weeks later while facing charges of indecent exposure.


According to the recipient of the former teacher’s emails and text messages, she text messaged him ‘continuously’. He said that she offered to have sex with him and kissed him on the mouth in a classroom at least twice. He told police that he forwarded the nude photos to two of his male friends.

Apparently, began circulating around the high school. Dennehy was identified with the help of other staff members at the school. By her genitals?

Dennehy taught sophomore English at Londonderry High School for three years. She resigned three weeks after she was charged in March 2010.

On Monday, July 26, 2010, Melinda Dennehy entered a guilty plea and will not be serving jail time. She plead guilty to indecent exposure for sending nude pictures of herself to a 15-year-old male student through text messaging. The plea was part of a negotiated plea deal in which she would be convicted of the misdemeanor charge of indecent exposure rather than a felony count.

In a statement to the court she said:

I am truly sorry for my actions and poor judgment. I wish the student and his family well.

I am hopeful that all of my students will go forward to live enriched lives. I plan to continue with counseling and treatment and will endeavor to lead a productive life.

Dennehy was facing the possibility of up to seven years in prison had she gone to trial on the felony charges.

As part of her plea agreement she surrendered her teaching certificate. She was sentenced to one-year in jail, which was suspended for two years on the condition that she maintain ‘good behavior’, does not have contact with the boy or his family and does not go to the school.

See a video report of the Melinda Dennehy guilty plea is below.



http://law.rightpundits.com/?p=2019

Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting, Impregnating 11-Year-Old Girl

Man Accused of Sexually Assaulting, Impregnating 11-Year-Old Girl
An 11-year-old is nine weeks pregnant and now Deputies are charging a St. Albans is being charged with sexual assault.
Reporter: Carrie Jones
Email Address: carrie.jones@wsaz.com



ST. ALBANS, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Kanawha County Sheriff's Department has filed sexual assault charges against a St. Albans man after an 11-year-old girl became pregnant.

Michael Lacy, 36, is charged with first degree sexual assault.

According to the criminal complaint, Lacy allegedly had intercourse with the 11-year-old victim at his apartment.

The girl is now nine weeks pregnant. The victim told deputies that Lacy is the only person she has had sex with.

Lacy is out of jail on a $5,000 bond.

http://www.wsaz.com/news/headlines/99318084.html

High-dose methadone in pregnant women and its effect on duration of neonatal abstinence syndrome

Volume 200, Issue 1, Pages 70.e1-70.e5 (January 2009)


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High-dose methadone in pregnant women and its effect on duration of neonatal abstinence syndrome

This research was presented at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Society for Maternal–Fetal Medicine, Dallas, TX, Jan. 28-Feb. 2, 2008.
Susie Lim, MDd, Mona R. Prasad, DO, MPHa, Philip Samuels, MDa, Debra K. Gardner, PharmDb, Leandro Cordero, MDc
Received 29 February 2008; received in revised form 1 August 2008; accepted 21 August 2008. published online 03 November 2008.

Objective

The purpose of this study was to examine high-dose methadone in pregnant women and its effect on the duration of neonatal abstinence syndrome.

Study Design

This was a retrospective chart review of 68 neonates and their mothers who received methadone therapy during pregnancy. The last dosage of maternal methadone just before delivery and the length of treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome were examined with an analysis of variance model.

Results

When the data were analyzed for methadone dosages as a continuous variable, each 1-mg increase in the last maternal methadone dosage before delivery was associated with an additional 0.18 days of infant treatment for neonatal abstinence syndrome (P < .001; 95% CI, 0.112-0.255). In other words, every increase of 5.5 mg of methadone in the mother was associated statistically with 1 additional day of neonatal abstinence syndrome treatment for the infant. Gestational age at delivery and birthweight were not statistically significant.

Conclusion

Higher doses of maternal methadone were associated with an increase in diagnosis and longer duration of neonatal abstinence syndrome.

http://www.ajog.org/article/S0002-9378(08)00977-0/abstract

The Effects of Methadone on Fetal Distress During Labour

The Effects of Methadone on Fetal Distress During Labour

Contributor
By Melissa Warner, eHow Contributing Writer



Fetal distress is when a baby's oxygen supply through the placenta and umbilical cord become restrained and causes heart deceleration or inactivity. If the condition is not taken care of, the baby can die. There are many causes of fetal distress, including heroin addiction. Many mothers who become pregnant try to kick the habit so the baby is not born with defects or drugs in his system. Methadone is the main drug given to addicts to help with withdrawal. Some mothers are on the medication before becoming pregnant. Regardless, there are many concerns related to the effect of methadone on fetal distress syndrome.

Methadone is Safe
Addicts who choose not to continue methadone treatment will find that they are putting their fetus at incredible risk. The symptoms of withdrawal create a harmful and stressful environment for the fetus to grow in. Studies have found that methadone is a safe alternative.
The Other Option May Kill the Fetus
Studies have been conducted over the years and in various countries, and every one has found that methadone prevents miscarriages in comparison to the experiences of those addicts who chose to go cold turkey. The incidence of fetuses born with fetal distress was not related to the methadone.
Dosages Must Stay Consistent
To avoid fetal distress, it is important to continue the same amount of methadone as pre-pregnancy. Lowering the dosage in the first trimester puts mother at a high risk of miscarriage.
Metabolism Changes
Since methadone use should be continued to avoid fetal distress, it is also important to keep in mind a woman's metabolism changes throughout the pregnancy. This means that dosage should stay consistent with the mother's body. Too little can put stress on the fetus.
Abnormalities
Fetuses will not experience any abnormalities, including being born with fetal distress syndrome. Methadone use does not cause any abnormalities, according to extensive research.


Read more: The Effects of Methadone on Fetal Distress During Labour | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_5031794_effects-fetal-distress-during-labour.html#ixzz0uz64GSyN

Using Narcotics for Pain Relief During Childbirth-Opiates also cross the placenta during labor

Using Narcotics for Pain Relief During Childbirth

Many women use some type of method to deal with pain during childbirth. As you prepare for your labor experience, it is important to become educated on different pain medications, how they work, and the risks and benefits. Which method you decide to use (if any at all) depends on your preference, your health care provider’s recommendations, and the availability at your birthing facility.

What are Opiates?
Opiates are a type of analgesic given to relieve pain. When used during childbirth, Opiates are considered the next step from the less invasive or natural methods of pain relief such as laboring in water, deep breathing, and massage. Opiates are given in small doses and usually during the early stages of labor in an attempt to avoid potential side effects for the mother and baby.

What are the advantages of using opiates during childbirth?
Opiates offer pain relief and do not interfere with a woman’s ability to push during labor. Unlike an epidural, an opiate does not numb the pain but instead it helps to take the “edge” off. Opiates may help to reduce anxiety and improve the ability to cope with painful contractions.

What are the potential side effects of opiates?
Opiates may have the following side effects on the mother:

Nausea
Vomiting
Itching
Dizziness
Sedation
Decreased gastric motility
Loss of protective airway reflexes
Hypoxia due to respiratory depression
How will the opiates affect my baby?
Throughout pregnancy, you were probably aware that medications you consumed could potentially affect your baby. Opiates also cross the placenta during labor and can cause the following side effects to your baby:

Central nervous system depression
Respiratory depression
Impaired early breastfeeding
Altered neurological behavior
Decreased ability to regulate body temperature
For these reasons, your baby may need medication to counteract the opiate effects. Naloxone is a medication that when given in small doses can reverse the respiratory depression that opiates may cause in the baby. This drug is usually given intravenously to your baby. The effects of naloxone can be seen within a few minutes and can last up to 2 hours.

What types of opiates are used during childbirth?
The most frequently used narcotic medications are:

Morphine
Stadol
Fentanyl
Nubain
Demerol
Demerol:
Demerol is a popular choice for pain relief during labor. Demerol alters how you recognize the pain you are experiencing by binding to the receptors found in your central nervous system. The advantages of Demerol include:

Can be given by injection into the muscle, the vein or by a Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) pump
Demerol starts working in less than 5 minutes
How can Demerol affect me and my baby?
Demerol can cause drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, respiratory depression, and maternal hypertension (low blood pressure). If injected within 2-4 hours of delivery, Demerol has been found to cause breathing difficulties in babies.

Morphine:
In recent years, morphine has not been routinely used as a method of pain relief during labor because it has been found to depress the baby’s ability to breathe.

Stadol:
Stadol has been found to relieve pain when given in the first stage of labor. This narcotic is considered more potent then Demerol. It is usually given intravenously in small doses, usually 1 to 2 mg. The advantages of using Stadol include:

Starts working in less then five minutes
Is a sedative
Has minimal fetal effects
Cause minimal nausea
How can Stadol affect me and my baby?
Stadol can cause the mother to have respiratory depression, dizziness and dysphoria (a state of feeling unwell and unhappy). Stadol can cause respiratory depression in the baby.

Fentanyl:
Fentanyl is a synthetic opiate that provides mild to moderate sedation. The advantages of using Fentanyl include:

Begins working quickly (although, usually only lasts 45 minutes)
Minimal sedation
Minimal fetal effects
How can Fentanyl affect me and my baby?
You and your baby may experience some sedation and/or nausea. According to Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology, baby’s born to mothers who used Fentanyl to relieve pain during labor were less likely to need naloxone (medication to help with breathing) than babies born to mothers who used Demerol during childbirth.

Nubain:
Nubain is a opiate agonist-antagonist that is comparable to morphine. The advantages of using Nubain include:

Begins working within 5 minutes of administration
Minimal nausea
Minimal fetal effects
How can Nubain affect me and my baby?
Nubain can cause the mother to have sedation and dysphoria (a state of feeling unwell and unhappy).

How will my pain medication be given?
Medication can be given in any of the following ways:

A one time injection into the spinal column
IV or Intravenous placement into a vein on the back of the hand or arm. A needle is inserted into a vein with a plastic tube connected to a bag holding fluid that slowly drips into your body. In a hospital setting, an IV is typically placed to help you stay hydrated throughout labor and assure access to administer medications if they are needed.
Patient Controlled Analgesia (PCA) pump is a way a mother can control when she receives pain mediation during labor by pushing a button. The advantage of having a PCA is that it provides a sense of control and the mother does not have to wait for the nurse to bring pain medication. Fentanyl and Demerol are common narcotics that can be given through a PCA pump. The pump is pre-programmed based on the drug dosage into amounts small enough to relieve pain without releasing too much medication.
LAST UPDATED: 12/2006
Compiled using information from the following sources:

Williams Obstetrics Twenty-Second Ed. Cunningham, F. Gary, et al, Ch. 19.

Danforth’s Obstetrics and Gynecology Ninth Ed. Scott, James R., et al, Ch. 3.

http://www.americanpregnancy.org/labornbirth/narcotics.html

Teacher, former Big Brother and foster parent, charged with molestation

Teacher, former Big Brother and foster parent, charged with molestation

Curt Edward Carson
By JARREL WADE World Staff Writer
Published: 7/27/2010  9:27 PM
Last Modified: 7/27/2010  9:27 PM

Prosecutors have charged a Union Public Schools special education teacher and former Big Brothers Big Sisters mentor of molesting a 13-year-old boy in 2002.
Curt Edward Carson, 49, of Broken Arrow was arrested July 9 at a Starbucks coffee shop at 71st Street and Garnett Road by officers from the Tulsa Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit.

He was released from the Tulsa Jail on $50,000 bail later that day, jail records show.

Carson was charged on Tuesday with the lewd molestation of a 13-year-old boy between July 2002 and August 2003, court records show.

During that time, Carson was a teacher for Tulsa Public Schools and was a mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters. He also has been a foster parent, Cpl. Clay Asbill said.

Carson was hired by Union Public Schools in 2005. He worked at Union Intermediate High School as a special education teacher for three years before he was transferred to Union’s Sixth and Seventh Grade Center as a special education teacher.

He has worked at the Sixth and Seventh Grade Center for the last two years, the school district reported.

A news release from the district on the day he was arrested states, “In light of his arrest this morning, Union Public Schools has suspended Carson with pay, as required by law, pending the outcome of the investigation and will fully cooperate with Tulsa police in the investigation.”

Carson taught in Tulsa at Clinton Middle School from 2001 to 2004 and worked at Hamilton Middle School until he resigned in 2005, Tulsa Public Schools spokeswoman Tami Marler said.


By JARREL WADE World Staff Writer

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/webextra/content/2010/crimesite/article.aspx?subjectid=450&articleid=20100727_11_0_Prosec662141

State agency reports shortcomings in child abuse probe

State agency reports shortcomings in child abuse probe

By JOSÉ PATIÑO GIRONA | The Tampa Tribune

Published: July 27, 2010

A month after 2-year-old Deondray Ashe of Lakeland died from alleged child abuse, the Florida Department of Children and Families released its internal review of the agency's handling of the case while the boy's family was under investigation.

The routine internal evaluation, which was completed July 19, listed some positive aspects but more areas of where improvement is needed.

The agency was investigating Ashe's mom, Ina Ashe, and his stepfather, Marcus Brown, after a March 26 allegation of child abuse where the boy suffered fractured ribs. The case, which was closed May 25, was ruled unsubstantiated, said Ann Berner, DCF's administrator for Circuit 10, which includes Polk County.

The report cites that no one from the agency visited the child and his family from April 6, when he was discharged from St. Joseph's Hospital, until May 24. Berner said there should have been regular visits in between, although the family had been reached by telephone.

The report said staff also should have continued weight checks to see whether Ashe was continuing to gain weight. There should have been further investigation to learn whether there was weight loss and if it was caused by illness of neglect, the report states.

In addition, that staff should have prepared a more detailed safety plan pointing out sleeping arrangements and proper supervision of Ashe's 4-year-old sibling.

The report recommends that the child protection investigation staff attend a safety planning training.

On June 14, less than a month after the child abuse allegation was deemed unsubstantiated, Deondray Ashe was dead. Brown was arrested June 16 and charged with first-degree murder in his stepson's death.

Earlier this month, Ina Ashe was charged with aggravated manslaughter on a child and two counts of aggravated child neglect in Deondray's death.

Berner said that during the investigation support groups were put in place to assist the family and the family was cooperative with investigators.

The family had never been investigated for child abuse. Ina Ashe was a nurse. Though Brown did have a criminal history, they were minor offenses that did not involve violence, Berner said.

"I don't think any of those recommendations would have given us a different outcome," Berner said.

Berner added that no one in the agency who worked on this case will receive a reprimand or is in jeopardy of losing their job.

Reporter José Patiño Girona can be reached at (813) 259-7659.

http://www2.tbo.com/content/2010/jul/27/state-agency-reports-shortcomings-child-abuse-prob/news-breaking/

Kwame Gyamfi (MD) - Remebering Nancy Schaefer

Antonovich calls for audit of county's child protection safety net

Antonovich calls for audit of county's child protection safety net

Source: Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Fifth District


Posted: July 27, 2010 3:59 p.m.
Updated: July 27, 2010 5:00 p.m.

Related Content
This story is posted in The Signal's SCV Raw section. Click here for more information about SCV Raw.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY -- "Recent tragedies are the failure of a coordinated protocol of County departments who come into contact with abused and neglected children and their families," said Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who with Supervisor Don Knabe, introduced a motion ordering an independent audit and recommendations to protect these children.

"Ensuring the safety, permanency and self-sufficiency of abused and neglected children requires the coordination of the Department of Children and Family Services as well as other departments that touch the life of that child or family during a child abuse investigation including Health Services, Public Health, Mental Health and Public Social Services," he said.

http://www.the-signal.com/section/114/article/31546/

Foster father guilty of fondling girl

Foster father guilty of fondling girl
NZPA
July 27, 2010, 7:48 am


A foster father who fondled a 14-year-old sleeping girl after drinking has avoided a prison sentence.

Graham Pihema pleaded guilty just before trial to doing an indecent act on a young person and was sentenced in New Plymouth District Court yesterday to 350 hours' community work and nine months' supervision, The Taranaki Daily News reported.

Judge Gordon Whiting said it was no excuse that Pihema had been drinking the night of the offending and could not remember it.

"Disgusting behaviour on young children is not appropriate." It was only the support of his former partner that had saved him from jail.

The woman told the court that he was a good husband and provider and had successfully raised his own daughter and three children through government agencies.

http://nz.news.yahoo.com/a/-/top-stories/7651284/foster-father-guilty-of-fondling-girl/

Ohio Supreme Court: Rights of Biological Parents ‘Precious and Fundamental’

Ohio Supreme Court: Rights of Biological Parents ‘Precious and Fundamental’Posted on July 27th, 2010 by Glenn Sacks in All News, Ohio News, US NewsRead 331 times.
The following is an article by Fathers & Families Board Member, Robert Franklin, Esq.:

This case out of the Ohio Supreme Court does little but suggests much (Leagle, 7/22/10). Reading the court’s dicta, i.e. the verbal embroidery with which it decorates its actual holding, fathers’ rights in adoption cases just got a huge boost.Back in July 2005, Susan Tuttle gave birth to a child. She was married to Jeremy Tuttle at the time and his name was placed on the birth certificate. The court’s recitation of facts leaves us to guess at just how and why certain events transpired, but, a month later, DNA testing on the baby had been performed. It showed that Tuttle was not the child’s father; Gary Otten was. Just who asked for the testing to be done is anyone’s guess. Whether Otten requested the testing or whether he even knew it had been done, the court doesn’t tell us.Whatever the case, not surprisingly, Jeremy Tuttle divorced Susan in November of that year. A little over a year later, Gary Otten filed a suit to establish his paternity rights and presumably to get some sort of a custodial order. But then Susan married another man, Kevin Crooks, who filed a petition to adopt the child who was then almost two years old. In order for Crooks to adopt the child, Otten’s parental rights would have had to be terminated by the probate court.At this point, it’s a good idea to recognize an important fact. There are two types of adoptions - stranger adoptions and non-stranger adoptions. Stranger adoptions are the kind most people tend to think about when they think about adoption. They’re the ones in which a couple adopts a child they don’t know, a child, in other words, who is a stranger to them.

Crooks wanted to do the other type of adoption. He knew Susan Tuttle’s child; he was married to Tuttle and wanted to formally recognize his parental relationship with her child and tie himself legally to the child should the pair ever divorce. That’s a non-stranger adoption.

In the United States, there are about 125,000 adoptions completed each year. Of those, about 75,000 are stranger adoptions and about 50,000 are the non-stranger variety.

Why does it matter what kind of adoption this was? If a stranger adoption doesn’t go through, it may well be that the child will have no parents at all, or at best a single parent. The child may sit unnoticed in an orphanage. If a non-stranger adoption doesn’t go through because the biological father asserts his rights, the child will still have two parents - a mother and a father - the same as if it had gone through. From the child’s standpoint, then, nothing is lost by allowing the dad to assert his rights.

When it comes to terminating fathers’ rights, the adoption industry often likes to pretend that all adoptions are alike, and therefore that if we allow the biological dad to prevail, the child will miss out on having two parents. That can be true in a stranger adoption case, but not in a non-stranger one. It’s an important distinction that those who make money off of completed adoptions often prefer to overlook.

Back to the case. The Ohio Supreme Court held that, because Otten is the biological father, Crooks can’t adopt the child (and terminate Otten’s rights) unless he can show that Otten is unfit.

One important thing about that holding is that Otten had never registered with the Ohio Putative Father Registry. So according to that law, he wasn’t entitled to notice of the adoption proceeding. The Court of Appeals held that his failure to register foreclosed his paternity suit. The Supreme Court said that’s not so. Essentially, a biological father who’s asserting his parental rights can stop the adoption of his child whether he’s filed with the Putative Father Registry or not.

It’s hard to overemphasize the importance of the court’s language in this case. First, it focuses on core principles of parental rights - principles long acknowledged but often ignored. For many years now, I’ve written of my astonishment at the U.S. Supreme Court’s calling parental rights “far more precious than property rights” and then approving the most bald-faced deprivations of due process in cases construing the rights of fathers. Significantly, those are often in cases involving putative father registries.

Here’s some of the court’s dicta:

[T]he right of a natural parent to the care and custody of his children is one of the most precious and fundamental in law…

Few consequences of judicial action are so grave as the severance of natural family ties…

[W]e have held that any exception to the requirement of parental consent (to adoption) must be strictly construed so as to protect the right of natural parents to raise and nurture their children.

Finally! Here’s a court that sees the obvious - that the rights of biological fathers have legal importance, and that courts and legislatures must respect them for the welfare of all concerned. Not only that, as important as parental rights are, in termination proceedings, states’ rights are virtually nil until a parent has been proven to be unfit.

the parent’s interest is fundamental but the State has no legitimate interest in termination unless the parent is unfit, and finding that the State’s interest in finding the best home for the child does not arise until the parent has been found unfit.

Second, I believe that the Ohio Supreme Court is signalling a change of direction in adoption matters. That’s because in two instances it cites, not the majority in U.S. Supreme Court cases, but dissents. That suggests to me that Ohio court is ready to break with the past. I believe that it is ready to turn away from the notion, clung to for so long by so many jurisdictions, that any adoption is a good adoption even though it’s unnecessary. When a fit father wants to be a parent to his child, there is no legitimate state interest in denying him his parental rights.

This case can be viewed as extremely limited and many will argue for that reading of it. But courts often prefer to obscure the full impact of important cases. Judges fear being tagged “judicial activist.” Given the language of the case, I would not be surprised to find it holding unconstitutional Ohio’s Putative Father Registry law at some time in the not too distant future. Either that or so limiting its scope as to render it all but impotent.

And let’s not forget that, just last month, right next door in Kentucky the state Supreme Court ruled that biological parents rights were “inherent and equitable.” Here’s my piece on that case. It too suggested a significant expansion of parental rights based solely on biology.

It’s important to understand what this case does not do. Somehow, Otten learned about his child and was able to assert his rights. Thus the case deals only with a father who was able to make a timely claim. This case does little or nothing to protect a father from whom a mother successfully keeps his child. What if Otten had found out he was the father, not a year later, but five years later? Could he have asserted his rights then? The case doesn’t say because that’s not what happened.

Some day, that case will come before the court and it will have an opportunity to decide whether a father’s rights can be prejudiced by the fraud of the mother. That happens frequently in adoption cases as I’ve reported on before. But this is a court that says it respects the rights of biological parents. We’ll see how far that goes.

But remember that Kentucky case. That’s exactly the issue it ruled on and it held that a father who’d been kept in the dark about his paternity until the child was three years old, could not be denied his parental rights.

As Bob Dylan once said, “the times they are a-changin.’”

Robert Franklin, Esq., is a board member of Fathers & Families, America’s largest family court reform organization. To learn more, see www.fathersandfamilies.org.

http://www.bloggernews.net/124988

Has the Most Common Marijuana Test Resulted in Tens of Thousands of Wrongful Convictions?

Has the Most Common Marijuana Test Resulted in Tens of Thousands of Wrongful Convictions?
More than 800,000 people are arrested on marijuana charges each year in the United States, many on the basis of an error-prone test.
July 28, 2010 |



Raised in Montana and a resident of Alaska for 18 years, Robin Rae Brown, 48, always made time to explore in the wilderness. On March 20, 2009, she parked her pickup truck outside Weston, Florida, and hiked off the beaten path along a remote canal and into the woods to bird watch and commune with nature. “I saw a bobcat and an osprey,” she recalls. “I stopped once in a nice spot beneath a tree, sat down and gave prayers of thanksgiving to God.” For that purpose, Robin had packed a clay bowl and a “smudge stick,” a stalk-like bundle of sage, sweet grass, and lavender that she had bought at an airport gift shop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Under the tree, she lit the end of the smudge stick and nestled it inside the bowl. She waved the smoke up toward her heart and over her head and prayed. Spiritual people from many cultures, including Native Americans, consider smoke to be sacred, she told me, and believe that it can carry their prayers to the heavens.

As darkness approached, she returned to her pickup truck to find Broward County’s Deputy Sheriff Dominic Raimondi and Florida Fish and Wildlife’s Lieutenant David Bingham looking inside the cab. The two men asked what she was doing and when she said she had been bird watching, Bingham asked whether she had binoculars. As she opened her knapsack, Officer Raimondi spotted her incense and asked if he could see it. He took the bowl and incense, asking whether it was marijuana. “No,” she recalls saying. “It’s my smudge, which is a blend of sage, sweet grass, and lavender.” “Smells like marijuana to me,” said Raimondi, who admitted he had never heard of a smudge stick. He then ordered Robin to stand by her truck, while he took the incense back to his car and conducted a common field test, known as a Duquenois-Levine, or D-L, test. The result was positive for marijuana.

Robin protested, telling them the smudge was available for purchase online for about $7 and gave them the name of a Web site that sold it — information Officer Bingham used his laptop to verify. But the men still searched her truck. After an hour and a half they finally allowed Robin to go home and told her that if a lab test confirmed the field test results, a warrant would be issued for her arrest.

Exactly 90 days later, Robin was arrested at the spa in Weston, Florida where she has worked as a massage therapist for three years. She was handcuffed in front of clients and co-workers, and charged with felony possession of marijuana. She was brought to a local police precinct in the town of Davie where she was booked and held for three hours. Unable to post the $1,000 bail because she was not allowed to call her boyfriend Michael, she was transferred to the Women’s Correctional Facility in Pompano Beach. At no time was she read her rights.

Five hours after her arrest, she was finally allowed a brief phone call and left a message for Michael to post her bail. At the jail, a female officer came in and told Robin to take off all her clothes. She had already been searched at the precinct station and had her shoes, socks and bra confiscated. “I’m on my period,” she said. “I don’t care,” said the officer, who ordered her to pull her underwear down to her ankles, squat over the floor drain and cough. The following morning at 4:30 a.m. she was released onto the streets of Pompano Beach with no idea where she was.

The next day, Robin found a lab and submitted to voluntary hair and urine tests. These came back clean. She had previously worked for 16 years as a transportation systems specialist with the Federal Aviation Administration, a job that required airport security clearances, so drug tests were nothing new to her. During those years, she was frequently required to pass random drug and alcohol tests.

She later learned that her incense had never been subjected to a confirmatory lab test. She had been arrested and jailed solely on the basis of her positive D-L test results.

The Preferred Test for Marijuana

The Duquenois test was developed in the late 1930s by a French pharmacist, Pierre Duquénois, while he was working for the United Nations division of narcotics. In 1950, he completed a study for the UN which claimed that his test was “very specific” for marijuana; it was adopted by the UN and crime labs around the world as the preferred test for marijuana.

After undergoing several modifications, including the use of chloroform, the test became known as the Duquenois-Levine test, and became widely popular. Though scientists would show in the 1960s and 1970s that the D-L test was nonspecific, meaning it rendered false positives, it remains today the most commonly used test for marijuana — used in many of the 800,000 marijuana arrests that take place each year.

The test is a simple chemical color reagent test, easy to perform but difficult to interpret. To administer the test, a police officer simply has to break a seal on a tiny micropipette of chemicals, and insert a particle of the suspected substance; if the chemicals turn purple, this indicates the possibility of marijuana. But the color variations can be subtle, and readings can vary by examiner.

The field test kits are produced by a variety of manufacturers, the most popular brands being NIK and ODV. Literature about the D-L from NIK’s makers states that it is only a “screening” test that “may or may not yield a valid result” and may produce “false positive results.” Yet, since at least 1990, arresting officers, with the support of prosecutors, have regularly bypassed lab analysts and have purported to identify marijuana at hearings and trials only on the basis of visual inspection and the nonspecific D-L field test. And the manufacturers have taken note.

In 1998, ODV reported in its newsletter with seeming satisfaction that a growing number of police departments were using its D-L field test, marketed as the NarcoPouch, as “their sole method of testing and identifying Marihuana [sic]… To have Officers properly trained in identifying Marijuana and taking the Crime Lab out of the loop is a tremendous cost saving venture for the State…and gives the individual Officers testing the material a greater sense of satisfaction in completing their own cases” (emphasis added). NIK, too, argued that depending exclusively on D-L field tests saves time and money. “Crime laboratories are so busy that drug tests take too long,” NIK states on its website. “With the cooperation of the Prosecuting Attorney, many police agencies have turned to presumptive drug testing. If the results indicate that an illegal substance is present, criminal charges may be filed.

In June 2006, the Virginia legislature went so far as to pass “emergency regulations” permitting law-enforcement officers to testify at trial for simple possession of marijuana cases solely on the basis of a D-L field test. Prior to these regulations, officers had to send suspected material to an approved lab for testing. Nothing in the new legislation specified that the field tests used had to be specific, or even accurate. Frederic Whitehurst, a North Carolina-based defense attorney and former FBI special agent with a doctorate in chemistry, considers the law to be an unconstitutional usurpation of the authority of the courts to determine what test results can be admitted as valid evidence.

The trend toward police officers using the D-L as a confirmatory test has been encouraged by the National Institute of Justice, an agency of the Department of Justice which has funded programs to transform police officers into court experts, based on their use of these faulty field tests. One such ongoing program for the Utah police claims to offer, in four days, “the necessary training” to positively identify marijuana, which would allow officers to serve as “expert witnesses in the courtroom setting.” The program briefly covers the “botany, chemistry and analysis of marijuana preparations,” after which police officers, including street detectives and crime scene lab personnel, “will assume responsibility for all of their agency’s marijuana submissions.” By the end of 2005, such submissions became the exclusive provenance of the Utah officers who had attended the training, and suspected marijuana samples were no longer accepted at the state lab for processing.

In 2009, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation trained more than 1,600 police officers in the use of the D-L test, resulting in a 98 percent reduction in the use of marijuana lab tests. This troubling program garnered the bureau a 2009 Vollmer Excellence in Forensic Science Award by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

Test 'Should Never Be Relied Upon'

Despite its widespread use, as early as the 1960s, the D-L test had been proven incapable of definitively identifying the presence of marijuana in a seized substance. A 1968 article in the Chemistry and Pharmacy Bulletin of Japan reported that the D-L tests “lack in adequate specificity.” In 1969, M. J. de Faubert Maunder, a chemist in the Ministry of Technology, a UK government agency, documented the unreliability of the D-L test in an article in the Bulletin on Narcotics, noting that test results depended heavily on the subjective judgment of the analyst — and thus could easily vary dramatically from lab to lab. “[A] positive test is not recorded until this colour has been identified,” he wrote, “and because it is almost impossible to describe in absolute terms it is best recognised by experience.” Moreover, he reported finding twenty-five plant substances that would produce a D-L test result barely distinguishable from that of Cannabis and cautioned that the D-L test “should never be relied upon as the only positive evidence.”

Several articles in the Journal of Forensic Sciences further disproved any claims that the test could specifically identify marijuana. A 1969 study in the journal reported false positive results from “a variety of vegetable extracts.” A 1972 study found that the D-L test would test positive for many commonly occurring plant substances known as resorcinols, which are found in over-the-counter medicines. For instance, Sucrets lozenges tested positive for marijuana. This study concluded that the D-L test is useful only as a “screen” test and was not sufficiently selective to be relied upon for “identification.” Still another study, in 1974, showed that 12 of 40 plant oils and extracts studied gave positive D-L test results.

In 1975, Dr. Marc Kurzman at the University of Minnesota, in collaboration with fourteen other scientists, published a study in The Journal of Criminal Defense that concluded: “The microscopic and chemical screening tests presently used in marijuana analysis are not specific even in combination for ‘marijuana’ defined in any way.” In the 35 years since that study was published, no one has ever refuted this finding.

Indeed, recent research has confirmed Kurzman’s findings. In 2008, Whitehurst, the chemist and former FBI agent, substantiated Kurzman’s findings in an article in the Texas Tech Law Review. That same year, Dr. Omar Bagasra, director of the South Carolina Center for Biotechnology, conducted experiments in his lab also demonstrating that the D-L test is nonspecific and renders false positives. Bagasra, too, has impeccable credentials — he’s a leading pathologist and a board-certified forensic examiner.

A number of high courts have been persuaded by this evidence, and have found that the D-L test does not prove the presence of marijuana in a seized substance. In 1973, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled that the D-L test “standing alone is not sufficient to meet the burden of proving the identity of the substance beyond a reasonable doubt.” The court specifically noted that the D-L field tests used in this marijuana possession case “are not exclusive or specific for marijuana.”

Similarly, in 1979, a trial judge in North Carolina blocked the marijuana conviction of Richard Tate, which was to be based on positive D-L test results. In this case, too, the trial judge found that the D-L test was “not specific for marijuana” and had “no scientific acceptance as a reliable and accurate means of identifying the controlled substance marijuana.” On that basis, the judge allowed the defendant to suppress the use of the test results as evidence. This finding was upheld by the North Carolina Supreme Court, which found that D-L test “was not scientifically acceptable because it was not specific for marijuana” and thus “the test results were properly suppressed.”

Also in 1979, the U.S. Supreme Court in Jackson v. Virginia ruled that the results of nonspecific tests could not be the basis for prosecution or conviction. In other words, if the only evidence is a positive D-L test, then the case must be dismissed.
As noted, even the test’s manufacturers do not claim that their product can definitively identify marijuana. The literature accompanying NIK’s NarcoPouch 908 cautions, “The results of a single test may or may not yield a valid result… There is no existing chemical reagent system, adaptable to field use, that will completely eliminate the occurrence of an occasional invalid test results [sic]. A complete forensic laboratory would be required to qualitatively identify an unknown suspect substance.”

Shoddy Science

Shoddy science, though, has muddied the waters. Several studies claim, falsely, to have validated the specificity of the D-L test. For instance, a seemingly authoritative 2000 study funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) purported to have validated the capacity of the D-L test to specifically and definitively identify marijuana. The title of the article, published in Forensic Science International, “Validation of Twelve Chemical Spot Tests for the Detection of Drugs of Abuse,” misstated the researchers’ actual findings. In fact, the study’s authors found that the twelve tests it analyzed, including the D-L, were nonspecific. “The tests,” they wrote, “are not always specific for a single drug or class.” Speaking of the D-L test, they wrote that “mace, nutmeg and tea reacted with the modified Duquenois-Levine,” meaning that they produced false positives. They also noted, echoing Maunder’s 1969 article, that the D-L test is subjective: “The actual color…may vary depending on many factors [including] the color discrimination of the analyst.”

The best-known D-L “validation” study, and thus the most damaging to defendants, was published in 1972 by John Thornton and George Nakamura in Journal of Forensic Science Society. It instantly made the D-L test the gold standard across the country for marijuana identification. But just like the NIST study, this report is internally contradictory and scientifically flawed. On the opening page of this article, the authors state that the D-L test is a “confirmation” test for marijuana. Such a test must be capable of proving the presence of the drug beyond a reasonable doubt, specifically identifying the drug to the exclusion of all other possible substances and producing neither false positives nor false negatives.

However, the researchers’ own findings contradict their conclusion and show instead that the D-L test merely screens for marijuana. The authors themselves reported that the D-L test gave false positives and was not a confirmatory test even when cystolithic hairs — visible on the leaves of marijuana and other plants — are found on the suspected substance. They claimed that “the Duquenois-Levine test is found to be useful in the confirmation of marijuana” when cystolithic hairs are observed “since none of the 82 species possessing hairs similar to those found on marijuana yield a positive test.” The problem is, as the authors noted, there are hundreds of plants with cystolithic hairs that they did not test, making their sample of eighty-two species woefully inadequate. In effect, they admitted that the botanical exam itself was nonspecific. Combining two nonspecific tests does not make a specific, confirmatory test, as the D-L and the botanical exam both could easily render false positives.
Without having proved specificity, the authors nevertheless claimed it: “The specificity of the Duquenois reaction has been established, empirically at least, over the past three decades. No plant material other than marijuana has been found to give an identical reaction.” They also noted its widespread use as if it were proof of its efficacy, mentioning that the D-L test was adopted as a preferential test by the League of Nations Sub-Committee of Cannabis and that a version of the test was proposed by the United Nations Committee on Narcotics as a specific test for marijuana. (The UN subsequently found that only gas chromatography/mass spectrometry analysis could affirmatively identify marijuana.)

Inexplicably, this Thornton-Nakamura study is cited by the Drug Enforcement Administration and labs around the country as justifying the use of the D-L test alone or in combination with the microscopic visual exam for proving the presence of marijuana in a seized substance. Even some courts have erroneously ruled that the D-L test is specific and confirmatory. The most egregious example occurred in 2006. U.S. District Judge William Alsup found the D-L test to be a specific identification test and declared, grandiosely: “Despite the many hundreds of thousands of drug convictions in the criminal justice system in America, there has not been a single documented false-positive identification of marijuana or cocaine when the methods used by the SFPD [San Francisco Police Department] Crime Lab are applied by trained, competent analysts.” In fact, according to an affidavit in that case from a senior criminologist at the SFPD, its lab had, for forty years, used the D-L test in combination with a botanical exam to identify marijuana — two nonspecific tests that can each produce false positives. (A spokeswoman says that current SFPD policy is to subsequently confirm these results with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry.)

In March 2009, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences, speaking of the D-L and other tests, called the analysis of controlled substances “a mature forensic science discipline”; “one of the areas with a strong scientific underpinning”; and an area in which “there exists an adequate understanding of the uncertainties and potential errors.” These incorrect assertions relied on assurances from government witnesses that “experienced forensic chemists and good forensic laboratories understand which tests (or combinations of tests) provide adequate reliability.” The committee’s main witness was Joseph Bono, the former director of a regional DEA lab, who had previously issued a sworn affidavit, referring to the D-L and other forensic tests, which asserted that “tests and instruments that are properly used by qualified forensic chemists are incapable of producing a false positive.” But experience and competence cannot make a test specific if it is not — nor can they make it immune from false positives.
In 2008, Senator Jim Webb, D-VA, said, in announcing a proposed bill, that “the criminal justice system as we understand it today is broken, unfair.” This unfairness is visible every day in the disparate and contradictory court decisions regarding the admissibility of D-L test results. Not only have courts contradicted one another on admissibility, but some courts have even chosen to admit the results of a D-L test while ruling that it does not prove the presence of marijuana beyond a reasonable doubt. This patchwork of admissibility means that a person in one state can be convicted of possessing marijuana on the sole basis of the D-L test while a resident of another state cannot.

In 1978, the Supreme Court of Illinois in The People of the State of Illinois v. Peppe Park illustrated this confused, unconstitutional state of affairs. In denying the admission of ipse dixit (“It’s marijuana because I say it’s marijuana”) reports, the court found that “police officers may not be presumed to possess the requisite expertise to identify a narcotic substance…because it simply is far too likely that a nonexpert would err in his conclusion on this matter, and taint the entire fact-finding process.” This court cited a study that found 241 incorrect identifications of marijuana by arresting police officers. Yet in the same decision, the court erroneously claimed that “to determine accurately that a particular substance contains cannabis, all that is necessary is microscopic examination combined with the Duquenois-Levine test.”

Challenging the Test

Robin Rae Brown never even faced trial on marijuana possession charges. After she was released from jail, she retained this author as a defense expert. When I first spoke with her attorney, Bill Ullman, he had never heard of the D-L test and said he normally plea-bargained cases like Robin’s. I urged him to challenge the test and provided him with several scientific studies cited in this article, relevant court decisions, including Jackson v. Virginia, and other information. When Ullman made inquiries, he discovered that the sheriff’s department had never performed a lab test to confirm his field test results. Robin, he discovered, had been charged with a felony solely on the basis of the D-L test and Officer Raimondi’s “opinion.”

At Ullman’s insistence, the sheriff’s department finally performed a gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS) analysis on Robin’s smudge, which came out negative. State Attorney Berki Alvarez immediately dropped the charges against her, noting to Ullman, “the scariness that a person could be arrested under such conditions.”

Even scarier was the lab’s revelation that it does not conduct GC/MS analysis until just before a trial, as most marijuana possession defendants plea bargain before the trial. If Robin had accepted a plea bargain, she would have been wrongfully convicted and saddled with a criminal record that could have damaged her future job prospects. How many others before and since have accepted plea bargains based on false positives from a D-L test?
“I am just now willing to share this story,” Robin wrote months after her arrest, “because it was embarrassing and I didn't want to worry my family and friends.” After some serious thought, she recently decided to file a lawsuit for wrongful arrest. “I would like to see them stop using the bogus field tests and to improve their procedures at the county crime lab,” she says. “I would like the public to be aware of the faulty field tests.”

In truth, everyone arrested on marijuana charges has a Constitutional right to a GC/MS analysis. Otherwise, they are being denied both due process and a fair trial. “It is not only unnecessary for the courts to continue to accept conclusory drug identifications based on nonspecific tests, it is also unwise for them to do so,” wrote Edward Imwinkelried, a professor of law at the University of California at Davis whose work on scientific evidence has been cited by the Supreme Court. “Conclusory drug identification testimony is antithetical and offensive to the scientific tradition, and courts should not allow ipse dixit to masquerade as scientific testimony… Even more importantly, sustaining such drug identifications places a judicial imprimatur on testimony that cannot justifiably be labeled scientific. The rejection of such identifications is necessitated not only by due process but also by the simple demands of intellectual honesty.”

Sustaining evidence from nonspecific tests like the D-L, he concludes, “is both bad science and bad law.”

This article was reported in collaboration with The Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute.

John Kelly is a court-certified expert witness on drug tests and author of 'False Positives Equal False Justice' and the forthcoming book, 'How to Obtain a Pretrial Dismissal of Marijuana Charges or an Acquittal.' He can be contacted at: kjohn39679@aol.com.

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