Criminals treated better than parents

26 February 2021: this editorial in the Washington Post highlights the profound injustice of family law, particularly in many States in the USA: “You can lose your kids, home and freedom without ever seeing a lawyer.”

“It’s a given that criminal defendants in the United States are entitled to legal representation, free of charge if they cannot afford it — a right enshrined by the Supreme Court nearly six decades ago and then expanded to cover even minor cases in which incarceration is unlikely. Yet in courts across the country, poverty-stricken litigants in noncriminal cases routinely face life-shattering outcomes, including jail time, without ever seeing a lawyer or receiving basic legal advice.

Those cases include disputes in which the stakes could not be higher: forfeiture of parental rights; eviction or foreclosure; danger from abusive spouses and domestic partners; and, in guardianship cases, the loss of control over property, and even liberty. In child-support cases, defendants are routinely incarcerated, for days, weeks or months without recourse to legal assistance.

… poor people unversed in the law are on their own when states have not specified a right to counsel and judges cannot or will not provide one. That produces appalling results across a range of legal disputes.”

Of course, as far as Two Wishes is concerned, the even bigger problem is that kids can lose a parent, or even half their family, based on a decision by someone with a degree in law and no expertise whatsoever in disciplines that might actually know, professionally, what’s best for kids’ wellbeing – such as scientific research, medicine or health professions.

It’s more than an issue of “justice” too; it’s nothing less than a question of life – and, potentially, premature death – for a child.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *