Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Broward County, Florida: Judge Shows Compassion to Mother Who Left Children in Hot Car while She Sold Her Blood

In the clip, Broward County, Florida, Judge John Hurley gets "a little choked up" when reviewing the case of a poor woman arrested for leaving her children in a hot car. MSNBC posted:
Angel Smith, 41, (left her two children) in a hot car for two hours while she gave blood to earn money to feed them, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

She was paid around $30 for giving blood, but when she left the center, cops were waiting.

A security guard at the blood donation clinic saw the children - ages 4 and 7 - alone in the car and called police, who arrested Smith on child neglect charges. The children were unharmed and are in the custody of the Department of Children and Families.
In the video, the judge tells Smith, "I don't look at you as a criminal, all right, but at the same token, ma'am, you can't leave your children in the car, that length of time, unattended." She's still facing charges.

This story of the Florida woman touched me because the judge empathized with the woman, who is clearly going through a hard time, and it's good to know that we have judges who don't automatically throw the book at people without considering circumstance. Do you know how desperate you have to be to sell your blood?

At the same time, we've had at least one child die in the New Orleans metro-area in the last three weeks who was left in a hot car and another who nearly died but was rescued by New Orleans Recreation Department workers. A babysitter has been charged with negligent homicide in the death of the first child. She was a family friend who was supposed to take the child to daycare but for some reason she stopped at her house instead and left the child in the car for eight hours. In the second case, the mother, Sha'ron Hudson, 22, has been charged with second-degree cruelty.

In addition, last week a woman was arrested in Westwego, La., after leaving two children, ages three and six, in the car with the air conditioner on low. She was shopping in the grocery store. A passerby saw the children who were sleeping and called the police. While that woman used poor judgment, at least she was aware that she should not leave children in a hot car.

The local paper reports that the children's father said the woman who was arrested is not the children's biological mother and he defender her. Apparently she's his wife. Police told WDSU that she was the third woman arrested for under such circumstances this summer. I don't know if they were referring to the two cases I mentioned earlier or other cases.

The police handling the case sounded frustrated and angry. It is indeed hard to fathom why people do this, especially during the summer down here when local stations run announcements and segments telling of the dangers of leaving children in cars with temperatures outside above 90 degrees. It's difficult to understand sometimes why people leave children in cars alone at all given the news stories carjackings where the thieves didn't realize a child was in the car, not to mention all the warnings about child predators.

Imagine how distraught the Westwego woman would have been if someone had abducted her husband's children or how terrified she would have been if the children had awakened and done what one of my younger cousins did when he was a slightly more than two years old. He tried to drive his parents' car and rolled into a busy street. The keys weren't in the car, but the door was unlocked. My uncle, his father, was working in the yard when my cousin climbed in the car and messed around enough to release the brakes. The car rolled back into the driveway and reached the part that sloped downward. Gravity took over and the car rolled into the street. Fortunately, no cars hit him.

Last year, Kids and Cars, reported 48 children died due to being left alone in hot cars, a record number.

H/T to Nancy Lockhart who shared the video of the judge on her Facebook page.

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