LA COUNTY SUPERVISOR RIDLEY-THOMAS CALLS PRESS CONFERENCE WITH NEW CONCERNS ABOUT ALESIA THOMAS DEATH
LA County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas called a press conference Friday regarding the in-custody death of Alesia Thomas. (WitnessLA’s previous post on Alesia Thomas can be found here.) Supervisor Ridley-Thomas was joined by Phillip Browning, director of LA County Department of Children and Family Services, and LAPD officials to reassure parents that there should be no fear of repercussions for seeking help when they are unable to care for their kids.
“Anytime an incident like this takes place it is not simply a matter of investigation, it is a matter of review of policy to make sure that whatever factors might have contributed to the tragic results are not repeated,” said Ridley-Thomas.
KPCC’s Erika Aguilar has the story. Here’s a clip:
“We do not wish to in any way cause anyone to feel that they should be reluctant to take advantage the safe houses in the city or to take advantage of the DCFS [Department of Children and Family Services] office,” said Ridley-Thomas.
LAPD Police Commissioner Andrea Ordin said the police department would redouble partnership efforts with DCFS and increase training so that all officers are aware of the county’s services for parents.
Officials encouraged parents to use the Child Protection Hotline, 800-540-4000, if they need any help with children.
“No parent should believe that they are in this by themselves,” said Phillip Browning, director of LA County Department of Children and Family Services.
L.A. County participates in the Safely Surrendered Baby Law, which allows parents to give up an unwanted infant without fear of arrest or prosecution for abandonment as long as the baby has not been abused and is dropped off at a hospital or fire station within three days of birth.
The law does not apply to older children, but Browning said L.A. city police and fire departments are willing to take on those kinds of situations.
LA COUNTY “FAMILY REUNIFICATION WEEK” SEPT. 10-14
While we’re on the subject, LA County Supervisors have declared Sept. 10-14 “Family Reunification Week.” The celebration is in recognition of families’ safe reunions with their children and and all of the parents, caregivers, social workers, and organizations that make reunification possible, after children have been initially removed to the county’s care. (We’re glad the Supervisors are paying attention to these issues, and want to continue to help families grow healthier and able to become whole again.)
The Paramus Post’s Mel Fabrikant has the info. Here’s a clip:
… On Tuesday, September 11th, six “Family Reunification Heroes,” a group of parents, social workers, and organizations that have done an exemplary job in supporting the safe return of children to their homes and families, will be honored with a special scroll presentation by Chairman Yaroslavsky’s Children’s Deputy Lisa Mandel at the Hall of Administration.
On Thursday, September 13th, a Family Reunification Symposium, “Families First: The Road that Leads Back Home,” will feature Chairman Zev Yaroslavsky, Judge Michael Nash and Philip L. Browning, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The symposium will include a lively panel discussion with parents, caregivers, former foster youth, social workers and court attorneys on pertinent family reunification issues. The most emotional part of the program will undoubtedly be three families sharing their personal stories on how they reunited with their children. Parents in Partnership, a DCFS program that utilizes parents who have successfully navigated the Dependency Court system to reunify with their children and are now coaching other families on how to do the same, will discuss their successful program.
On Friday, September 14th, media is invited to attend a press conference at Juvenile Court where reporters can witness a unique event, similar in format to National Adoption Day, as court officially terminates the cases of eight families whose parents have successfully reunified with their children. These eight families represent over 3,000 families that reunify with their children each year.
CA PRISON REFORM BILLS ON GOV. JERRY BROWN’S DESK
A bill to prevent the shackling of pregnant prisoners awaits Gov. Brown’s decision, once again, after passing unanimously through legislature. Brown vetoed a previous version of the bill, AB 2530, last year.
The ACLU’s Alicia M. Walters has the story on AB 2530. Here’s a clip:
This year marks the third attempt to get a signature on a bipartisan, unanimously supported bill in California (AB 2530) that would ban the practice of putting incarcerated pregnant women in dangerous shackles. Similar bills have passed two previous legislative sessions with overwhelming support from both political parties, only to be vetoed. Opposition from the powerful law enforcement lobby surely played a role in these vetoes. But we have persevered, and this year we’ve been successful in keeping law enforcement neutral. While we’re happy with this progress, we still need the Governor to sign the bill.
We’ve kept at this for several years for a fundamental reason: Shackling is dangerous for a woman and her baby. It is well-documented that shackling pregnant women causes them to fall. Falls could cut off oxygen to the fetus and could lead to miscarriage, stillbirth, or fatally premature birth.
By the way, Gov. Jerry has until Sept. 30th to sign (or veto) another bill that WitnessLA strongly favors, AB 1270, that would open up media access to in-person interviews with prisoners. If approved, the bill would help shed light on areas of the corrections system that need reform. (For more info, check out our previous post on AB 1270 here.)