Better A Serial Killer Than A Parent
This not only protects the innocent, but society as well: if you are, for example, imprisoned for a murder you never committed, that means the real killer is still at large and free to cause more deaths. There are a depressingly large number of people these days who would gladly subvert individual rights in the name of the Greater Good. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they mean well, but they don’t understand that strengthening the rights of the individual enhances the Greater Good as well. Society is composed of individuals, and how can you build a healthy society out of sick individuals, or a free society out of slaves?
Unfortunately, Connecticut has carved a for-the-children exception from the notion of individual rights. The Department of Children and Families is charged with the (admittedly important) task of protecting children cursed with abusive parents. But the constitutional rights granted to those accused of crimes ranging from shoplifting to serial murder are withheld from parents investigated by the DCF.
At the newspaper for which I write, I’ve been working on a series of articles highlighting DCF abuses. My first piece, which came out two weeks ago, discussed how the DCF is gunning for homeschooling parents, charging them with “educational neglect.”
My second story, which came out yesterday, focuses on the DCF’s lack of constitutional oversight.
“The [DCF] is not a law enforcement agency and does not charge citizens with crimes,” department spokesman Gary Kleeblatt said in an e-mail. “Therefore, the agency has no involvement in the enforcement of constitutional rights that relate solely to criminal activity (jury trial, confront accuser).”(Editor’s note: I’m writing this post at an insanely early hour, and reserve the right to go back and fix any mistakes I notice once I’m awake.)
“It’s a gimmick,” charges Michael Agranoff, an Ellington-based attorney who specializes in defending parents in DCF cases. “Making [these cases] civil instead of criminal is a gimmick to get around the fourth, fifth and sixth amendments to the Constitution.”
While DCF does not have the authority to impose prison sentences, Agranoff says: “The ultimate penalty you can face [with DCF] is TPR, Termination of Parental Rights. … Most people I know would rather spend a year in jail than lose custody of their kids.”