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Living With The Epidemic: State official talks about hoarding – Martinsville Bulletin

August 19th, 2017 by admin

MARTINSVILLEThere was a man who once bought three rats after his wife died. He wanted some pets and so he adopted the rats, to keep him company. But soon, three rats turned into 10 and he kept going, buying 15 and then 20. By the time authorities discovered the situation, his house was infested by 3,000 rats and the man himself was living in an outbuilding. However, he cared so much about his rats that when he found a dead one, he mourned it and blamed himself for its death.

Hoarding is an issue, whether it involves living animals or collecting material in your home. In fact, it has been officially defined as a disability, which means among other things, landlords cannot legally reject a hoarders application to rent.

The topic came up Wednesday at the Henry County Administration Building, as Mahalia Mally Dryden-Mason, a Fair Housing Training Specialist in the Virginia Fair Housing Office, spoke about ways of Battling the Growing Hoarding Epidemic.

The program was sponsored by Martinsville/Henry County Seniors and Law Enforcement Working Together (S.A.L.T.).

This is a hot topic here, she said. Everyone wants to know about hoarding.

In addition to the man who hoarded rats, Dryden-Mason talked about a case where 109 cats were found in a persons home. Only seven survived, and only one of them was tame enough to be a pet.

Another woman bought a horse. That one horse she bought just triggered hoarding, Dryden-Mason said: Within two months, the woman had 60 horses. They werent being cared for properly and had to be removed.

Illinois and Hawaii are the only states which have laws that specifically address animal hoarding, Dryden-Mason said. However, animal hoarding is implicitly covered by all states animal cruelty statues. They typically require caretakers to provide sufficient food, water and veterinary care.

Cases of animal hoarding usually are discovered after putrid or foul odors or infestations of bugs are noticed by people outside the house, she said.

Defining the term

As Dryden-Mason introduced her topic, she defined hoarders. Number one, if you are a hoarder, you wouldnt be telling anybody, she said to the chuckles of those folks in the crowd.

Hoarding is defined as persistent difficulty discarding possessions, regardless of their values, such that living areas cannot be used, she said. A home may have only narrow pathways which wind through stacks of clutter. The medical term for hoarding is disposophobia.

When your house gets full, your cars take over, or your outbuildings, she said. I can tell whos hoarding without ever going into the homes because the porches and outside areas are full.

Some hoarders collect animals, she said.

The American Psychiatric Association recently added hoarding to its list of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-5 disabilities. That designation came after 19 years of research and studying disorders, Dryden-Mason said.

Hoarding also is linked to other mental disorders, such as: depression, social phobias, anxiety, ADHD, OCD and obesity. Depression affects about half of hoarders

They used to say that hoarding was OCD, she said, but that didnt make sense to her: Most people with OCD tend to be overly clean.

There is some speculation that the urge to hoard was passed down through time as a once helpful condition. Before these days of materialism, when mankind had few possessions, people had to keep whatever they found useful. Through evolution, she said, most human beings have lost that urge but not all.

Some say its hereditary, she said.

Research shows that its characteristic of many people who hoard that they dont return items they had borrowed, and they steal things. Hoarders spend large sums of money purchasing items and often dont pay necessities, such as utility bills, she said.

Hoarders have a difficult time throwing things away. They believe an item will have value in the future, or has sentimental value, or was too big a bargain to throw away.

Hoarding is different from collecting, she said. Collectors have pride in their collections, which usually are kept neatly displayed or organized. Hoarders are embarrassed about their possessions, and they avoid having people come into their homes. While collectors budget for their acquisitions, hoarders usually are in debt.

By the numbers

Six percent of Americans are hoarders, Dryden-Mason said. Its most common among elderly women. About 15 million or more elderly adults have the disorder.

Hoarding is statistically four times more common than Alzheimers disease, Dryden-Mason added.

Half of all hoarders excessively acquire free items, and 75 percent of hoarders engage in excessive buying.

Hoarders generally are not considered to be lazy, nasty or defiant, she said and in fact, most tend to be very intelligent, and even successful in their careers.

The best treatment for hoarding is cognitive behavior therapy. About 70 percent of patients respond positively to talk therapy, training and motivational interviewing, she said.

Success from the use of antidepressants has mixed results, she said. Scientists do not fully understand neurological sources of hoarding, and effective medication has not been discovered for it.

Simply forcing hoarders to throw away large quantities of their stuff, or cleaning it out for them, has very little effect on improvement, she said.

She told the story of a woman whose children sent her off on a cruise. While she was gone, they cleared out her full house. When the mother returned, she was mad at them for doing it and within two months, she had spent $20,000 and filled up the house again.

Support for hoarders has to come in on several levels, she said. She said that she would like to see hoarding addressed on a large scale with the involvement of hoarding task forces, peer support groups, inter-agencies collaborations, clean-up companies and mental health organizations designed to help hoarders.

Fairfax County has the nations hoarding task force, she said. It was started in 1998.

The original Collyers mess

Dryden-Mason talked about the case of two famous hoarders, brothers Homer and Langley Collyer the sons of two cousins who had married. The brothers lived in a brownstone mansion in Manhattan.

Homer was blind, and Langley believed he could cure his brothers blindness by feeding him a special diet of black bread, peanut butter and dozens of oranges each week. Meanwhile, Langley kept years worth of newspapers for his brother to read when that time came.

Homer never left the mansion, and Langley only went out for errands occasionally at night. The two were found dead there in 1947, after neighbors reported a foul odor coming from inside the mansion.

Homers body was found first; he had died of starvation and heart failure. Police began the process of emptying the house. Langleys body was found two and a half weeks later, only 8 feet from where his brother had been found. He had been crushed by piles that had fallen onto him.

The more than 100 tons of stockpiled possessions removed from the house included 25,000 books, 14 grand pianos and the chassis of a Model T Ford, she said.

To this day, the term Collyers mess often is said by mothers telling their children to clean their rooms. The term Collyers mansion is used by firefighters and other rescue personnel to describe a house too full of stuff to enter safely or comfortably.

A hoarding house is too dangerous for firefighters to enter, Dryden-Mason said, giving as example a fire in Connecticutt which killed a 42-year-old man and left his mother in critical condition. The fire may have started from hazards from hoarding, and firefighters could not enter to save the people.

Hoarding can damage a house: If you have any stacks that come up to your knees, you compromise your floors and walls, she said.

Renters who hoard

Since hoarding officially is considered a disability, Dryden-Mason said, landlords cannot turn away a prospective tenant who hoards.

However, based on the Virginia Landlord Tenant Act, the results of hoarding may constitute lease violations, she said.

Under the Virginia Housing Act, hoarding can be a lease violation under a good housekeeping clause, she said. However, its easier for landlords to enforce conditions of apartments, which affect other residents of the property, and more difficult for free-standing houses.

Another way for a landlord to address hoarding is from safety violations, such as when items block exits, create fire hazards or prevent the rooms from being used for their intended purposes. Citations by the health or fire departments as well as damage from animals or infestations of roaches, bedbugs, silverfish or fleas also could be considered lease violations.

However, dont be in a hurry to evict a hoarder, she warned. A fair housing complaint can cost a landlord. If a tenants hoarding is not handled properly, the landlord may have to pay legal fees, fines and even face paying between $10,000 to $30,000 to bring the residence up to code.

A specific diagnosis of a disorder is not necessary for a tenant to be considered to have that disability for purposes of fair housing, Dryden-Mason said. The definition of disability is (1) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of such persons major life activities; (2) a record of having such an impairment or (3) being regarded as having such an impairment.

A tenants just being perceived as having a disability is enough to trigger fair housing protection against discrimination, she stressed.

What the landlord needs to consider is, Does this place have a chance that we can clean it up and put it back together while the person still lives here? she said. If repairs are needed and the tenant wont pay for repairs, the landlord doesnt have to let them stay.

A resident may establish a fair housing claim if: he or she has a disability; the landlord knew or should have known of the disability; an accommodation may be necessary to afford the resident with the disability equal use and enjoyment of his unit; the resident requested an accommodation; and the landlord refused to grant the request, she said.

The fair housing law has two key elements, she said: whether the resident has a disability, and whether the landlord discriminated against the resident.

A tenant may file a fair housing complaint under the Virginia Fair Housing Law as a civil action or affirmative defense or a counterclaim against eviction, or through HUD. If a tenant wins, the landlord may have to pay actual damages, punitive damages, attorneys fees and injunctive relief.

So, Dryden-Mason said, instead of rushing to evict a tenant who hoards, a landlord instead should work with that tenant to fix specific problems that the hoarding causes. That requires time, patience, goals and a well defined plan.

The landlord should address the problems in steps. For example, require that a table be cleaned off within a week, then return the next week to see that it was done. Even small accomplishments should be recognized, she said, and the property should be monitored regularly.

Landlords, families and others should remember: Behind all that clutter is a human being, she said. This is a hard disease to deal with, but I have seen it work.

Holly Kozelsky writes for the Martinsville Bulletin. She can be reached at .

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Living With The Epidemic: State official talks about hoarding – Martinsville Bulletin

Marvel Superheroes Who Basically Only Protect New York City, Ranked – Gizmodo

August 18th, 2017 by admin

Image: Marvel Comics/TSR. Marvel Superheroes RPG: New York, New York supplement cover.

The New York City of the Marvel universe is teeming with heroes, being home to everyone from Steve Rogers to Peter Parker. With four of those famous New Yorkers teaming up on the small screen today in The Defenders, we decided to rank the finest inhabits of the comic book Big Apple.

Given the vast number of heroes that operate on Earth-616’s NYCand we mean vast, were talking hundreds, if not thousandswe decided to lay some ground rules before forming our final list. First, these heroes have to spend the majority of their superhero careers actively in New York City. Its not just that they live there, or have their headquarters there, but they actively fight bad guys there, instead of flinging their way around the world like the Avengers do. Second, they operate within the five boroughs of the city: Queens, Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Staten Island, which rules out Kamala Khan in New Jersey (lets be honest, shed probably be pissed a being called a New Yorker), and the X-Men, whose mansion up until recently was based in Westchester, outside of the city.

So, without further ado, a comprehensive ranking on the best heroes swinging around in Marvels NYC, based on the very scientific notion of New-Yorkiness.

There is literally nothing more New York than a clan of misfits with strange abilities who find their chosen family after being rejected by the dominant culture and building their own society in the dark, dark tunnels of the MTA subway system. There are people who ride the subway because they have to, and then there are the Morlocks who are the the subwaynot in form, but rather concept. Theyre scrappy and downtrodden and broken, but also powerful and a reflection of both the good and the evil of the harsh world that lives above them.

The New Warriors most infamous moment might have occured outside of the five boroughsthat time their reality TV show lead to hundreds of lives being lost and the start of the superhero Civil Warin Stamford, Conneticutbut for much of its time actively crimefighting, the team called Brooklyn and Manhattan their home, supporting the myriad other heroes who called the city home. Being known for blowing up part of another town dings your New York cred a bit though.

In-between bouts of being dead or being insane, Marc Spector has spent most of his second career in crimefighting on the streets of New York as Moon Knight (with some stints in LA for the West Coast Avengers) since settling down after a career as a mercenary. In fact, Spector built multiple personas, from a high-rising Manhattanite financier to a lowly cab driver, to help him fight crime on the streets of the city. So you might argue that hes almost three times the New Yorker than everyone else! But thats not how it works.

For the vast majority of their careers as heroes, the Fantastic Four lived in the Baxter Building, a gargantuan sky scraper ever-so-conveniently located on the corner of 42nd Street and Madison Avenue. The Foursome are New Yorkers in a sense that they own(ed) a ridiculously expensive piece of real estate that was more a statement about who they were as opposed to what they could do for the city. Add that to the fact that they spend almost as much time in outer space messing around with Galactus as they do actually enjoying all that NYC has to offer, theyre sort of low on the list. To their credit, though, they are responsible for having saved the world (and city by extension) more than a few times. Then again, who hasnt?

Clint Bartons early life might have been spent in a traveling circus, but once he quit that, joined the costumed villain game, quit that, and then joined the costumed heroes game (its a long story), Clints made a home for himself in and around NYC while working alongside Earths Mightiest Heroes. Hell, in the excellent Matt Fraction/David Aja Hawkeye comic series, he even bought out his own apartment building to maintain rent levels for all the residents, so hes technically a New York landlord who just also happens to be very good with a bow.

Silk is relatively new on the hero scene, having been introduced in the pages of Spider-Verse a few years ago as the alias of Cindy Moon, the other person bitten by Peter Parkers radioactive spider. But shes a life-long New Yorker. Outside of some parallel world Spider-adventures, Cindy hasnt really left the city… although part of that is because she spent 13 years of her young life locked up in a bunker in Times Square, being protected from a race of interdimensional, Spider-Person-eating vampire monsters. In fact, its kind of impressive she managed to stay in the city and come to terms with her trauma over being trapped there after being freed.

There is no character in Marvels comics who better embodies the complicated, dark, and at-times terrifying id of New York City than Frank Castle. To flat out call the Punisher a hero, villain, or anti-hero is to misunderstand just what it is to be a person devastated by a loss so profound that their world falls apart on a fundamental level. Franks approach to justice is a dangerous and threatening one (even with his code), but at the same time, his feelings are understandable in undeniable ways. Frank is, quite literally, the product of what one very, very bad day in NYC can do to a person, which makes him both a tragic figure and a proof that even at a persons lowest lows, theres always a way to hang on.

Danny Rands spent a lot of time outside of NY thanks to years of training to become the Immortal Iron Fist in the magical city of Kun Lun. But when hes not in the mystical world of living weapons and ancient dragons, hes best known as one of Marvels premiere street-level heroes, both in the Defenders and as a Hero for Hire alongside his best friend, Luke Cage, keeping the streets of New York safe with his magical martial arts. Also, he runs a dojo.

At this point a lot of Spider-People call New York home, but Jessica Drew has lived in the city as both a costumed superhero and a private investigator, after the early days of her career saw her globe-trot across Europe and eventually move to San Francisco. Since then, though, Manhattan has been Jess home through thick and thin, from crime-fighting base to the hectic city where shes currently raising her newborn son.

As Miles Morales has adjusted to his new life in Marvels primary comic book universe where Peter Parker is still alive, hes proven that in many ways, he is the modern personification of all the things that Spider-Man once represented in his younger years. As Peter Parkers grown up, gotten married, and had a kid (in certain continuities), Spider-Mans trials and tribulations have gradually become textured by his adulthood and rightfully so. What Miles brings to the table, though, is a fresh take on the youthful wonder and heroism that Spider-Man always stood for, now updated to speak to a broader, more diverse audience like the melting pot that is the city he lives in.

It isnt just that Miles is Afro-Puerto Rican himself, its that the world he lives inhis friends, family, and surroundingsis objectively more expansive and inclusive than Peters was when he was Miles age, and theres an importance to that that cant be understated. Also, Miles powers and costumes are cooler.

Patsy Walker may be responsible for having brought literal demons from hell to New York on more than one occasion, but honestly, the demons are the only people she should be apologizing to. Patsys spent her fair share of time living in a couple of the citys boroughs, but in her most recent series, she really made a point of living like a real New Yorker (albeit in Brooklyn). The things that made Hellcat! A.k.a. Patsy Walker such a fun series to read werent just Patsys kooky, kick-ass shenanigans, but the way that she lived her civilian lifesearching for a roommate, hanging out with friends, flirting with guysall while taking full advantage of the city. Also, youve got to hand it to her for having a villain whose primary power was to summon bed bugs as part of her odd rogues gallery.

Misty Knight is the kind of NYPD officer that you want to show up when you need help. Not just because shes got a badass vibranium arm, but because her sense of justice has been forged and tempered by her experience as a full-on superhero. Most city cops that you meet have a deep and abiding love for their cities and Misty does as well, but her perspective and understanding is immeasurably more expansive because of the life shes led away from the force.

Although the movies have recast Steve as a Brooklyn boy, in the comics, he grew up in Manhattanand although technically a good chuck of his life after becoming Captain America during the war saw him living outside the city (as a block of ice in the North Atlantic), when he returned to help found the Avengers, Steve found himself back in his beloved city soon enough, helping establish the teams first headquarters right on Fifth Avenue. His time as an Avenger has seen Steve travel the world, but as the superpowered face of American liberty, his heart will always been in New York.

Shame about the fascism, though. Points off for that.

Janet van Dyne doesnt get enough credit for the role that she played in helping the original Avengers become the team that they are today. Sure, Janets the one who came up with their name, but more importantly, she was the moral center of the team who helped it weather all manner of challenges that plagued them, be an attack from Ultron, or a family dispute from within the team. Even as her fellow Avengers dart all over the world, Janet still remains rooted in the city where it all began, starting her own businessand now looking after the next generation of the Wasp in the form of budding young scientist Nadia Pym.

Cloak and Daggers destinies were forged in New York, when the two runaways found each other and went through hell being forcefully put through a dangerous drug program that turned them into dark-and-light-powered superheroes. Since then, theyve fought back against citys illegal drug industry that gave them their powers, and otherwise teamed up with countless other heroes and teams in New York. This includes during Manhattans recent entrapment in the Darkforce Dimension in Secret Empire, throughout which Dagger painfully provided light to the city at the cost of nearly killing herself.

Sam Wilson grew up in Harlem, and a tragic upbringing in the borough that saw him lose both of his parents as a young man set him on a path that would ultimately see him collide with Steve Rogers and become his erstwhile companion, the Falcon. Years by Steves side ultimately lead Sam to take on the Captain America mantle himselfgranted by an ailing, super-serum-drained Steve after Sam nearly sacrificed himself saving New York from being destroyed by a bomb. Sam decided to differentiate himself from Steves career as Cap by being a more socially-minded hero, starting in his home city.

Jessica Jones always knew that being superhero was for the birds and, like her partner Luke Cage, understood the importance of being able to capitalize on her god-given skills in order to pay her bills. As a private detective, Jessicas used her powers to help the people of New York in immediate, appreciable ways that other heroes seldom do and thats a very big deal.

Sure, the folks up in Avengers Tower have saved the world countless times, but there comes a point at which the adventures of heroes kind of lose their meaning for regular people on the ground. If you asked a random person on the subway in Marvels 616 universe who Ultron was, theres a chance they might be aware of that robot the Avengers are always scrapping with. But if you were to check out Alias Investigations Yelp page, youd probably see countless posts from people who were once in desperate need of help that neither the authorities or most well-known capes bothered to take seriously. Thats what makes Jessica a hero in the truest sense of the word.

Lets say one day you suddenly developed superpowers after a freak chemical spill and decided to become a superhero. Lets say that rather than spending time learning how to control your newfound ability to lift incredible amounts of weight with your breath, you threw yourself into the fray, stopped a bunch of criminals, and accidentally caused millions of dollars in property damage that the city council decides to sue you for. You know whod have your back in court and probably be able to convince a jury to let you off with a warning and some community service? She-Hulk, thats who. For all of the good that Jennifer Walters has done as hero fighting alongside the Avengers, its her work as an NYC lawyer that really makes her stand out as one of Marvels most versatile and giving heroes.

Howard the Duck is every single oddball youve ever bumped into in New York, made eye contact with, and had an immediate and tacit understanding that youre both going through some shit. As a character, Howards whole schtick has always been about pulling back from the present events of ones life and taking the time to appreciate how incredibly weird life can be. Its an outlook on like that we could all stand to have more often than not and it makes him one of NYCs better, uh, duck… people… things.

Hells Kitchens perennial defender, Matt Murdock and his home neighborhood are deeply intertwined in a way so few other heroes can claim. They can say they protect a city, but Hells Kitchen is Daredevils turf, and the Marvelverse knows it. Sure, hes taken extended periods of time away from the city, most notably to live in San Francisco a few times, but eventually, Matt Murdock always returns to Hells Kitchen, whether its as a lawyer or as the man without fear.

Up until very recently, the entirety of New York City was trapped in the Darkforce dimension thanks to Hydras evil plan to divide and conquer the worlds heroes. Though there were many sacrifices made in an attempt to break through the Darkforce bubble and save millions of innocent people, none was quite as great as Dr. Stephen Strange offering to trade his New York brownstone to a demon in exchange for a powerful spell that almost managed to break through the barrier. Ultimately, it didnt work out and Strange kept his home, but his willingness to part with it in the first place is telling. Like many of Marvels other heavy hitters, Strange spends a sizable amount of time away from NYC as his duties require him to, but Stranges appreciation for the city, its people, and its real estate is admirable.

Remember when we said few heroes were so closely rooted to their home area like Daredevil is? Luke Cage is one of the few heroes who not only matches Matt, but trumps him. Lukes connection to Harlem and its people, starting from his life as an ex-con trying to blend in to its protector as the Power-Man, is a bond thats even stronger than his friendship with his fellow hero for hire, Danny Rand. In the Marvel universe, Luke is a symbol of Harlems spirit, a man whos willing to do anything to help its people, a community he has always been fiercely protective of.

Its hard to think of a more quintessentially New York hero than Peter Parker. From his early days in Forest Hills to today, where he runs his global megacorp from the Baxter Building itself, Peter Parker is rooted in the beating heart of New York City in a way almost no one else in Marvels vast pantheon of heroes ever has been, or really, ever will besomeone who knows it in and out like the back of his spandex-covered hand. In his entire superhero career hes barely ever lived outside of the city, and his goal as a hero has always been to protect the civilians that call it home. Spider-Man is far more comfortable on the streets of New York than he is in any other environment, even if hes mostly swinging above thembut he will always be New Yorks finest champion.

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Marvel Superheroes Who Basically Only Protect New York City, Ranked – Gizmodo

How (Not) to Find Psychiatric Help in New York City –

August 4th, 2017 by admin

My husband tried to hang himself last week. Suicidal over the unmanageability of his life as a chronic alcoholic, he looped a noose around an exercise bar in our kitchen doorway. But he couldn’t get the right angle, and he gave up and went back to drinking.

I found out about this when I arrived home the next day after a dogsitting gig. My husband sat there on the couch sobbing as he told me what he had done.

I am no stranger to suicide attempts, addiction, or depression myself. Once, I swallowed a bottle of Depakote, a mood stabilizer, and came to in the ICU just in time to hear a doctor telling my family that I might be permanently brain damaged.

It took 15 years and 12 hospitalizations to finally get sober, find the right meds, and become stable.

At the end of my rope dealing with my addicted, suicidal husband, I had been begging him to check into a hospital or rehab for months. Despite the fact that it took 12 hospitalizations for me to get well, I really had no other game plan for him.

Jimmy surprised me when he finally agreed to go to a hospital. The door of willingness, shut tight for so long, finally opened a crack. Amazingly, he was finally ready to ask for help.

We called Jimmy’s sponsor, Gus, and Gus offered to drive us to a nearby university hospital, which supposedly has a good rehab program.

For a city the size of New York, there are surprisingly few detoxes and rehabs. Only about a dozen hospitals serve the needs of thousands of addicts who need help.

The whole drive down the Staten Island Expressway, I expected Jimmy to change his mind. But we safely arrived at the ER and began the process of being evaluated.

A nurse took blood, vitals, procured a urine sample. Jimmy sat there on a gurney, with me by his side, waiting for a psychiatrist to come talk to him.

After six hours, the doctor finally arrived to assess Jimmy’s condition. He explained about the noose, the drinking. She did a mental status exam: Remember these three words: rabbit, truck, cloud. Count backwards from 100 in multiples of 7. Who is the president? What were those three words I asked you to remember?

At last, the doctor explained Jimmy’s options. He could either go to the psych ward, or he could choose to go to detox followed by rehab.

Jimmy chose the detox and rehab. The doctor left to process paperwork and Jimmy smiled for the first time in weeks.

I feel hopeful, he told me, and I was so grateful. Perhaps there would be a good ending to this crisis after all.

And then came the bad news: No bed available in detox.

OK, I said to the nurse. He’ll go to the psych ward.

No, she explained. The doctor has discharged him. He can come back tomorrow morning to try to get a bed.

How could they release him when he was suicidal? Didn’t they hear him? He had tried to hang himself!

I was very angry, and scared. But it soon became clear that there was no getting around the doctor’s decision to discharge him.

And so, after eight hours in the the hospital’s ER, Gus drove us back to Brooklyn.

I should really kill myself now so you can sue the hospital, Jimmy said, and I knew he was only partially joking.

Gus explained that he couldn’t take us back to Staten Island the following morning due to his job. And there was no way for us to get all the way out there without a car.

Gus suggested we try the detox at another nearby Hospital, and surprisingly, Jimmy agreed. But after sitting in that ER for two hours without even being acknowledged by staff, Jimmy decided he had had enough.

We went home. And I spent that night wide awake, listening to his snoring, afraid that if I wasn’t vigilant, he would get up and try to kill himself again.

The next morning we reviewed our options. We called a few rehabs, listed on a printout given to us by the first hospital.

No beds were available.

And then a friend suggested a hospital in Manhattan. It supposedly has a good psych/addiction unit.

Amazingly, Jimmy was still willing to get help even after we wasted a day on Staten Island.

And so we took the subway into Manhattan and checked into the ER.

At first it seemed promising. The main ER was clean, bright, and staff was kind. We got through the intake process quickly and were then informed Jimmy would be going to the Psych ER.

Immediately upon entering the locked unit, we were overwhelmed by the smell of urine and body odor.

The room was painted a shade of puke green. And it was filled with several people brought in by police, handcuffed to gurneys.

A homeless man named Ronald came out of the bathroom butt naked and ran around the room, chased by staff who tried to put a gown on him.

Another man named Arthur kept yelling, I need a ticket to Albany to go to my economics class! And,

Somebody give me an iced cappucino!

He threw cups and garbage at staff when they asked him to empty his pockets and put on hospital pajamas. They bribed him with a tray of food: If he emptied his pockets and took off his boots, he would get the lunch tray.

Finally Arthur dumped about 20 granola bars and a jar of Folgers coffee from his pockets. But he continued to menace the staff and other patients.

And one of the handcuffed patients kept yelling and making inappropriate sexual comments to women in the room until the staff was able to stick him in the ass with a dose of Ativan.

To be fair, the staff were very respectful of the patients, despite the fact that many of the patients were really abusive. One staff member washed Ronald’s sweat suit and brought him a new pair of shoes. He even helped Ronald put his socks and shoes on, despite the fact that Ronald’s feet were pretty gnarly. And another psych aide didn’t take the bait when Arthur called him the N word, even providing some ice to put in Arthur’s coffee to placate his demands for an iced cappuccino.

At first it seemed the the doctors were going to send Jimmy upstairs to a rehab ward. We were told that the rehab ward would be calmer and less scary. So we sat there for hours amidst the chaos, waiting for this to happen.

Then we were informed that, instead of going upstairs, the doctors were going to keep him in the Psych ER for 24-72 hours for further observation.

Please don’t leave him in there, I begged the nurse. But the plan was firm. He would have to stay with Ronald, Arthur, and the handcuffed patients in the urine-soaked, puke green Psych ER.

When I left Jimmy, I looked at him behind the locked door, and he looked so sad and alone.

He called me that night from the patients’ pay phone.

This is your fault I’m in this shithole, he ranted. You made me do this. I felt heartbroken, but then my sister reminded me that I used to say the same thing to my family when I was locked up in psych wards. Just as it was clear it was not my family’s fault that happened to me, so it was clearly not my fault Jimmy was in this situation.

Jimmy is a tough guy, and I knew he could take care of himself if the other patients got violent.

But I couldn’t help but worry that he might get himself into trouble while locked up in there.

Two days later he was released. The hospitalization did nothing for him. He was given no medication and zero counseling. The doctors recommended he go to the Chemically Dependent Outpatient Program, but other than that referral it was a waste of time, not to mention being very traumatic.

Jimmy couldn’t wait to take a shower when he got home to wash the Psych ER off himself. He quickly washed his clothes in case they had been in contact with bedbugs or body lice.

Amazingly, he was still willing to ask for help, and he followed through with applying to the outpatient program. Time will tell if this new treatment component helps him stay sober.

It turned out to be a blessing for me that I was in there, Jimmy told me. It made me realize there’s still hope for me. So many of those other people in there are beyond help.

But it strikes me that when someone suicidal and struggling with addiction is finally willing to ask for help, it shouldn’t be this hard to find it. It’s truly shameful that in a city like New York, it is so hard to find help for mental health and addiction issues.

Jimmy had insurance, and a wife to advocate for him. And he still got the Psych Ward run-around.

What about those homeless people in the Psych ER and on the street? With no insurance, no one to advocate for them. If Jimmy has to jump through so many hoops to get help, what chance in hell do those people have?

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How (Not) to Find Psychiatric Help in New York City –

Bed bugs soaring eagle casino Xbmc casino royale Van …

August 3rd, 2017 by admin

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OHIO CITY The Ohio City Park Association and the Lambert Days Committee has finalized plans for the 2017 festival.

Lambert Days is always the third full weekend in July. This years dates are July 21-23. This is also the 50th anniversary of Ohio Citys celebration of the life of John W. Lambert and his invention of Americas first automobile.

This years edition of Lambert Days will feature a communitywide garage sale. For more information, contact Laura Morgan at 419.965.2515. There will also be food all weekend in the newly renovated Community Building on Ohio 118.

Friday, July 21

Festivities start off with a steak dinner (carryout is available), starting at 4 p.m. Friday. Ohio Citys American LegionHarvey Lewis Post 346 will have aflag-raising ceremony at 5 Friday evening, while kids games and inflatables will also open at 5. At 6 p.m., the Lambert Days Wiffleball Homerun Derby will take place. For more information, contactLorenzo Frye 419.771.7037.

There will also be entertainment at 6 p.m. featuring Cass Blue. At 7, there will be a adult Wiffleball tournament. For more information, contact Brian Bassett419.203.8203. A Texas Hold em Tournament will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, along with Monte Carlo Night, which begins at 8 p.m. For more information, contact Jeff Agler at 419.513.0580.

Entertainment for Friday night starts at 8 and will be the band Colt & Crew. There will also be a fireworks display at 10:15 p.m. Friday (Saturday night is the rain date).

Saturday, July 22

Saturday morning begins with a softball tournament at 8. For more information, contact Brian Bassettat 419.203.8203. There will also be a coed volleyball tournament that starts at 9 a.m. Saturday. For more information, contact Tim Matthews at 419.203.2976. The Lambert Days Kids Wiffleball Tournament starts at 10 a.m. Saturday. For more information, contact Lorenzo Frye at 419.771.7037.

Kids games and Inflatables continue at 11 Saturday morning. Cornhole tournament registration and 3-on-3 basketball tournament registration start at noon, while both tournaments begin at 1 p.m. For more information on cornhole, contact Josh Agler at 567.259.9941 and for 3-on-3 basketball, contact Scott Bigham at 419.953.9511.

The Hog Roast Dinner starts at 4 p.m. Saturday and carryout is available. There will also be music under the tent by Jeff Unterbrink at 4. Bingo will start at 5 p.m., and the night ends with entertainment by Megan White and Cadillac Ranch.


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When Should a Child Be Taken from His Parents? – The New Yorker

August 1st, 2017 by admin

What should you do if child-protective services comes to your house?

You will hear a knock on the door, often late at night. You dont have to open it, but if you dont the caseworker outside may come back with the police. The caseworker will tell you youre being investigated for abusing or neglecting your children. She will tell you to wake them up and tell them to take clothes off so she can check their bodies for bruises and marks. She will interview you and your kids separately, so you cant hear what shes asking them or what theyre saying. She opens your fridge and your cabinets, checking to see if you have food, and what kind of food. She looks around for unsafe conditions, for dirt, for mess, for bugs or rats. She takes notes. You must be as calm and deferential as possible. However disrespectful and invasive she is, whatever awful things she accuses you of, you must remember that child protection has the power to remove your kids at any time if it believes them to be in danger. You can tell her the charges are not true, but shes required to investigate them anyway. If you get angry, your anger may be taken as a sign of mental instability, especially if the caseworker herself feels threatened. She has to consider the possibility that you may be hurting your kids, that you may even kill one of them. You may never find out who reported you. If your child has been hurt, his teacher or doctor may have called the state child-abuse hotline, not wanting to assume, as she might in a richer neighborhood, that it was an accident. But it could also have been a neighbor who heard yelling, or an ex-boyfriend who wants to get back at you, or someone who thinks you drink too much or simply doesnt like you. People know that a call to the hotline is an easy way to blow up your life. If the caseworker believes your kids are in imminent danger, she may take them. You may not be allowed to say goodbye. It is terrifying for them to be taken from their home by a stranger, but this experience has repercussions far beyond the terror of that night. Your children may hear accusations against youyoure using drugs, your apartment is filthy, you fail to get them to school, you hit themand even if they dont believe these things they will remember. And, after your children see that you are powerless to protect them, this will permanently change things between you. Whatever happens laterwhether the kids come back the next week, or in six months, or dont come back at allthat moment can never be undone.

The caseworker has sixty days to investigate the charges against you. She will want you to admit to your faults as a parent, and you should, because this tells her you have insight into your problems and that you have a sincere desire to accept her help and change your life. But you should admit only so much, because she is not just there to help you: she is also there to evaluate and report on you, so anything you say may be used against you in court. The Administration for Childrens ServicesA.C.S., as child-protective services is known in New York Cityhas to prove its allegations against you only by preponderance of the evidence. It can bring in virtually anything as evidencean old drug habit, even if youve been clean for years; a D.U.I.; a diagnosis of depression. While the court case is proceeding, you may be asked to submit to drug testing or a mental-health evaluation, to attend parenting classes or anger-management classes or domestic-violence classes and some kind of therapy. These services are intended to help you, but, if you want to get your kids back, they are not really voluntary, even though they may be so time-consuming and inflexibly scheduled that you lose your job. The more obedient you are, the better things will go for you. Even if you are innocent and can prove it, it could be more than a year before you get a hearing, and during those crucial months your compliance and deference are the currency that buys you visits with your children.

When should you take a child from his parents?

You must start your investigation within twenty-four hours of the hotline call. Go at nightpeople are more likely to be home. As you look around, you have to be very, very careful, because if you miss something it will be partly your fault if a child ends up hurt, or dead. You may be shocked by the living conditions you encounter, but youre not allowed to remove children solely because of povertyif, for instance, theres no food in the kitchen because the parents food stamps have run outonly for imminent risk due to abuse or neglect. But its often difficult to draw a line between poverty and neglect. When a child has been left alone because his mother cant afford childcare and has to go to work, is that poverty or neglect? What if the child has been injured because there wasnt an adult there to prevent it? Unless youve become desensitized through repetition, emergency removals are awful. Parents may scream at you and call you terrible names. Sometimes a parent will get violent. When you suspect in advance that a situation is going to be dicey, you can bring a colleague or a police officer, but sometimes things turn very fast and youre on your own. If you remove the children that night, you will take them to a processing center to be assigned to a temporary foster home. Once you get there, it could take a long time for a home to be foundmany hours. The children sit and wait, along with other children in the same situation. They may be crying, but its unlikely you will be able to comfort them, because you may never have met them before, and you have just separated them from their parents. If the children ask you where theyre going next, or when theyll go home, or if theyll stay together with their brothers and sisters, you cant answer them, because you dont know.

After that first visit, you have sixty days to investigate the charges. You should interview the childs teacher, his pediatrician, and anyone else you think relevant. You should seek out neighbors and relatives; they may be too wary to talk to you, or else so eager to talk that you suspect theyre trying to get the parent in trouble. You must also draw out the parent herself; this is tricky, because you must play two conflicting roleshelper and investigator. Even if you feel for the parent and believe her kids should not be taken away, that is not the end of the story, because the final decision to ask in court for the removal of children is not yours to make; your supervisor, or your supervisors manager, will make it. Even though this manager has likely never met the parent or her kids, she may override your recommendation and take what she believes to be the safer course of action. Many at A.C.S. believe that taking kids from their parents is the cautious thing to do. Nobody wants to end up on the front page of the Daily News . You are working to protect children, and you will remind yourself of that when your job gets really difficult. Maybe once or twice a parent will thank you, and tell you that the services you provided made a difference in her life, and you will feel that those thanks make up for all the other parents who cursed at you and called you a baby snatcher. But thats unlikely. The turnover among A.C.S. caseworkers is very high.

This is how Mercedes describes what happened. She was running a bath for her children. It was 2009, so Leslie was eleven months old and Camron was two. (To protect her kids privacy, Mercedes provided pseudonyms.) She plugged in her curling iron, because she was planning to curl and wrap her hair while they were in the tub. The kids were playing with toys in the living room. She left the curling iron on the side of the sink and went to fetch towels. She heard crying and, running back to the bathroom, she saw that Leslie had pulled the hot curling iron off the sink by its dangling cord, and it had fallen on her legs and burned them. She looked at the burns and they werent blistering, so she figured they were O.K.

The next day, at her cousins house, she saw that the burns had blistered, and announced that she was going to take Leslie to the E.R., but her aunt told her, Do not go to the E.R. If they see those burns, child services will take your kids. So she didnt. The next day, she went to her mothers house. She and her mother started fighting, as they usually did, and she left the apartment with Leslie and sat with her outside. It was a warm night. She saw two women she didnt know walk past her and into the building. Her mother called her phone and told her to come upstairs. The two women were in her mothers apartment; they told her they were from A.C.S., and had come to see what happened to the baby.

She answered a few questions, growing increasingly outraged, and then, guessing her mother had called A.C.S. to get back at her, began cursing at her and screaming that she would never see her grandchildren again. She started putting on Leslies clothes to leave, but the A.C.S. women told her that first they had to take photographs of Leslies burns. Mercedes said no, she was going, and one of the women said, Miss, you are making me real nervous right now. The women left, but a few minutes later they came back, accompanied by a couple of policemen. Mercedes sat on the floor crying, holding Camron and Leslie and begging the women, Dont take my kids, please dont take my kids. But her mother, believing it was best to comply, picked up Camron and then Leslie and gave them to the women, both kids wailing, and the women took them away.

Mercedes grew up in Brooklyn. Her father was a drunk, who beat her and her mother. One time he nearly killed them, trying to run their car off the road as they fled from him on the Belt Parkway. When Mercedes was old enough to understand what was going on, she started calling the cops on him. When she was older still, she started running away, at which point her mother called the authorities on her. When she was a teen-ager, her mother sat the kids down and they voted on whether they should kick their father out of the house. Mercedess younger brother, who was six, voted no, but Mercedes and her older brother and her mother voted yes, so her father left. Mercedes got pregnant when she was fourteen, but her boyfriend beat her up and she lost the baby. When she was eighteen she got pregnant again. Her father turned up and beat her, but she didnt miscarry, and in 2007 she had her first baby, Camron.

Camrons father had told her to get an abortion, and was violent with her, too, so her mother came and brought her home. She told me, Im going to help you with the baby, I got you, Mercedes says. But although Mercedes and her mother were best friends when they werent living togetherthey talked every day on the phone, spent every weekend togetherwhen they were in the same house they fought constantly, and when Camron was eight months old Mercedess mother threw her out, so Mercedes and the baby moved into a shelter. When she got pregnant again, with Leslie, the same thing happened: she moved in with her mother and then ended up in a shelter again six months later. It was in this second shelter that the incident with the curling iron occurred.

At the Bronx Family Court, A.C.S. argued that Mercedes had burned Leslie with the curling iron on purpose, but the judge was not persuaded. Rejecting the charges of abuse, she issued a lesser finding of neglect, because Mercedes had failed to supervise her children properly and had not taken Leslie to the hospital. The children were put into foster care with Mercedess cousin, and Mercedes set about doing what A.C.S. told her she had to do to get them backgoing to parenting class, submitting to inspections by a caseworker. By this time, she was pregnant again. The first thing that caseworker said to me when she met me was not Hello but Oh, youre pregnant again? They aint going to do nothing but take that baby, too. That was the first thing that came out of her mouth. But the caseworker was wrong: shortly before Mercedes gave birth to her third child, Tiana, the judge gave Camron and Leslie back to Mercedes, on the condition that she live with her mother.

A.C.S. was still uneasy about Mercedes, however. Right after Tiana was born it requested that the court find derivative neglect of Tiana by Mercedes, on the ground that she had been found to neglect Camron and Leslie, and argued that all three children should be taken into foster care. It pointed out that Mercedess home had been observed to be unsanitary on at least two occasions, that she had refused to participate in drug treatment despite admitting that she smoked marijuana whenever I get the urge, and had missed two child-safety conferences, and therefore posed an imminent risk to Tianas life or health. But the childrens attorney argued that Mercedes should be allowed to keep the baby, and the judge agreed.

Six months later, A.C.S. filed another petition to remove the children: Leslie had cellulitis and eczema, and Tiana was seriously underweight, and A.C.S. argued that the persistence of these problems suggested that Mercedes was failing to care for them properly. The judge pointed out that since Tiana had not gained weight even during a two-week stay in the hospital, it was not clear that Mercedes had anything to do with it. (Years later, Tiana was given a diagnosis of growth-hormone deficiency.) Moreover, she said, there was a strong bond between mother and infant, the disruption of which would only make things worse. Three months after that, A.C.S. tried to remove Tiana a third time, but again the judge said no.

Mercedes fought with her mother and moved with the kids to a shelter again, but there were bedbugs, so she left. The next day she took Leslie and Tiana to the doctor, and he told her they were so sick he wanted to admit them both to the hospital. For a couple of nights she and Camron slept in the girls hospital room, but the hospital kicked them out. Then, soon afterward, Mercedess mother and a woman friend of hers from church turned up at the hospital, along with a caseworker from A.C.S. The caseworker told Mercedes that since she didnt have anywhere for Camron to go she had to give him to either her mother or the friend, or else A.C.S. would take all three kids. As Mercedes understood the arrangement, the caseworker promised her that, if she gave up Camron temporarily, then when the girls were released from the hospital A.C.S. would get the family on a priority list for proper housing and she would get Camron back. Mercedes desperately needed housing, and she didnt have anywhere else for Camron to go, so she said O.K. Because she was still angry with her mother, she told the caseworker that Camron could go with the friend. That turned out to be the wrong decision.

Leslie was released from the hospital a few days later, and she was given to the friend, too. Mercedes kept calling A.C.S., asking when she was getting her kids back. Tiana was still in the hospitalwere they waiting for her to be released? Why did she not have Leslie? When was she going to get her housing? What was going on? But now a caseworker was telling her that she had given up all three children of her own free will.

The judge on Mercedess case was Carol Sherman, who had worked in family court in various capacities for nearly forty years. As a law student, she had studied reformatories in Massachusetts and was appalled by what she sawchildren being held in prisonlike conditions, with only the most rudimentary attempts at educationso when she graduated she looked for an organization that defended children in court. She found only one, the Juvenile Rights Division of the Legal Aid Society in New York, and went to work there in the summer of 1971. The reason she could find only one such organization was that, until a few years before, juvenile defense had not been thought necessary. The Progressive Era creators of family court had imagined its judges as quasi-parents, helping rather than punishing, ruling benevolently in a childs best interest. But, in 1967, the Supreme Court ruled that it was irrelevant whether a judge felt benevolent or not: family court had the power to deprive citizens of their liberty, and that kind of state power had to be restrained by the law, so a juvenile delinquent was entitled to an attorney.

The mission to protect children, combined with the excitement of creating a whole new field of law, made the Juvenile Rights Division in the early seventies a thrilling place to be. Martin Guggenheim, now a professor of law at N.Y.U., arrived at the same time that Sherman did, and together they felt themselves to be part of a righteous crusade on behalf of their underage clients. We defended murderers and muggers with zeal, he says. And if our client was found guilty and sent away, wed say, That fucking judge. We were warriors!

When Sherman and Guggenheim started out, their caseload was almost all delinquencies. But then growing awareness of battered-child syndromean awareness that the abuse of children at home was not a rare pathology but a frequent occurrence that demanded attentionled, in 1974, to the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act. The Juvenile Rights Division saw more and more abuse and neglect cases, and as this happened a divide opened among the warriors. To Sherman, it seemed clear that these new cases were very differentthat whereas in the delinquency cases children accused of crimes had to be protected from the state, in the neglect and abuse cases the state itself was protecting children, from their parents. But to Guggenheim the child-welfare cases and the delinquency cases looked all too similar: in both, the state possessed the fearsome power to remove children from their homes, and so in both that power had to be kept in check.

By the time Sherman became a judge, in 2008, a great deal had changed in family court. In the eighties and nineties, putting children in foster care was very common: in 1991, there were nearly fifty thousand children in care in New York City. But study after study had shown how harmful foster care could be, and judges had become leery of it; by 2005, the number had dropped to eighteen thousand. (It is now under nine thousand.) But this didnt mean that all the children who were no longer in foster care had stayed with their parents: many experts in the field had come to believe that the solution to the problem of children spending years in foster care was to speed up adoption. In 1997, Congress passed the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which required states to file for termination of parental rights in most cases when a child had been in foster care for fifteen of the previous twenty-two months. This gave parents far less time to satisfy child-protection agencies that they had adequately reformed, and made it far more likely that they would never get their children back.

Sherman knew that foster care could be harmful, so she felt more comfortable removing children if there was a relative who could pass a background check and take themshe believed that children almost always did better with family.

S herman : Did the father sign the birth certificate at the hospital?

A.C.S.: I believe so.

S herman : Does the mother have contact with the child?

A.C. S.: The mother attended the child safety conference but she became upset and walked out and told the father it was his baby now.

She worked tirelessly, aware that she now had more power than ever to affect childrens lives. She read every report in advance, she took detailed notes and reviewed them, she interrogated.

S herman : Id like to see the police report, this makes no sense. Where is the child?

A.C.S.: With the paternal grandmother.

S herman : And what are you asking for today?

A.C.S.: The removal of the child to A.C.S.

S herman : Based on the mother leaving the child alone on one occasion for thirty minutes ?

A.C.S.: This is a very young child, less than seven months old, he cannot fend for himself.

M others L awyer : The very age of the child suggests that he should stay with the mother. She is breast-feeding, she has been his mother since birth.

S herman : How do you know the child was left alone for thirty minutes?

A.C.S.: The child was found alone by the fathers brother.

M others L awyer : The child was left with the uncle.

S herman : Wait, the fathers brother was home with the child?

A.C.S.: The brother stated that he came home and found the child.

S herman : But why do you believe the brother over the mother? What do we know about him?

When it came to abuse, she tried to parse the different sorts of violence. Was the parent whipping with a belt, which was painful but not usually dangerous, or choking, which was? And why was the parent doing these things in the first place? Is there mental illness? she asks. Is there so much anger that this person really cant control it? It may be that this parent has every reason in the world to be angry, not at the child but at a whole host of experiences hes had in his lifeIm not here to judge that. But how does that impact his ability to deal with his child? Young children can be really frustratingthe constant crying, not doing what you tell them to do. Did the parent have an unrealistic idea of how well a young kid could be expected to behave? Or did he simply believe that hitting was the right way to raise a child? It was difficult to draw a line between corporal punishment and abuse, and judges drew that line in different places.

S herman : The court does find that A.C.S. has met its burden. J. testified that his father beat him, punched him, and stomped on him, that he had been beaten by his father since he was two years old, and that he has seen his father hit C. This court is aware of Mr. As issues with anger control. The court is also aware that Mr. A cares very much for both of his children.

Some of the hardest cases were those in which a doctor did not believe a parents explanation of how a child had been hurt. It could be incredibly difficult to know what to do. Often the injury can be horrific, Sarah Cooper, another judge at the Bronx Family Court, says. A skull fracture, a broken femur, retinal hemorrhaging, which is typical of a shaken baby. When there are these horrific injuries, everybodys on edge. Who broke the baby? Somebody broke the baby. And often there are multiple caretakersmaybe two parents in a home, maybe a grandmother, an aunt, a babysitter. You have four people in front of you who are all held accountable, and the likelihood is one, maybe, did something, and two or three other people are just roped into it. But how do you say, O.K., take your baby home with their unexplained skull fracture? Nine months down the road were looking at a trialmedical experts come in and start lecturing about the ribs, genetic metabolic anomalies, brittle-bone disease, ricketsand that takes years. For a baby, thats a lifetimeits all of the bonding, all of the early-life attachment. And ultimately perhaps we never know what happened.

But abuse, in fact, made up only a small percentage of the cases that came through Shermans courtroom. The vast majority of child-protective cases involved neglect, and these could be even trickier. In a neglect case, it was a matter less of stopping something obviously terrible from happening than of filling in the deficits in a childs life, and the question of what constituted a deficit big enough to count as neglect was difficult to settle. It was also hard to tell when neglect suggested that something more worrying was going on. The question is, what else is this parent doing that their living conditions look like this? Sherman would ask. That theyre so filthy dirty, the children are filthy dirty, the food is rottingwhat else is going on here? Is the parent depressed? Does the parent have developmental disabilities? Is there drug use? Or is it none of those things and we just have to teach her how to keep a clean home? Figuring out what was really going on was hard, because she had no firsthand knowledge of the situation and was forced to rely on the testimony of caseworkers, whose skill and diligence varied considerably. She scolded them when their work was sloppy, but in the end she usually sided with A.C.S.

Sherman became known in family court for examining the tiniest of details. When inquiring how a child was doing, she wanted to know everything there was to know about him. I want to see every report card, and if the child isnt doing well in school I order tutoring in the home, she says. I will order P.S.A.T. and S.A.T. review courses. Information about scholarships. My experience is that unless I give a very detailed order the things that need to be done wont necessarily get done. She was notorious among caseworkers for her obsession with summer camp: if a child was not enrolled by the middle of spring, she would issue an order requiring it. She found out that one boy loved science but had never been to the natural-history museum, so she issued a court order requiring his foster mother to take him there. When he was adopted, she bought him a book about atoms and tickets to the planetarium to celebrate. Although she issued dozens of orders in every case, she kept track of all of them, and excoriated the caseworkers when they werent carried out. Some judges seemed to be concerned chiefly that their cases proceeded according to schedule; Sherman was not one of them. Judge Sherman cares very deeply for children, Mary Anne Mendenhall, Mercedess lawyer, says. That is something you can never doubt.

Sherman would often say, All the children before me are entitled to everything that my childs entitled to. To her, this was a matter of social justice: she believed that it was not right for poor children to be deprived of the after-school activities and therapy and evaluations and tutoring and domestic orderliness that middle-class children had, so when a child came into her purview she did her utmost to insure that the childs life and prospects were substantially improved before she was done with him. The trouble was, what to her seemed like helpful services could feel to a parent like intrusion, and the high standards she set could become barriers to reunification. It moved into social control very quickly, in her courtroom, Emma Ketteringham, the managing director of the Family Defense Practice at the law firm the Bronx Defenders, says. I will never forget one case where a case planner had put in her report that there was a lot of stuff in the crib. Judge Sherman issued an order that nothing be allowed in the crib except the baby.

M others L awyer : My client did not accept the cleaning service because shes about to be evicted so she didnt see the point.

Sherman knew that services didnt always work, and that parents often resented them, but her job was to protect children, so she did the best she could with the tools she had. What else could she do? Mental-health services, drug treatmentsometimes theyre beneficial, sometimes not, she says. There are old studies on batterers programs which said they did not have much of an impact. People are trying to figure out what can we dowe have to change peoples behavior. I think just being brought to court and having a child removed has a very sobering effect. But some parents are willing to say, Id like to learn a better way to do it, and others are not.

Carol does not see intervention as a terrible cost, Guggenheim says. She sees it as a price to pay to avoid what is for many in this field the thing to avoid above all else: wrongfully failing to protect a child. She really has a Progressive mind-set, in that she sees herself as the instrument of power to improve childrens lives. But, on the privileged side of town in all parts of America, children are raised by drunks, by drug addicts, by violent people. We dont care how privileged children are raised, because weve arranged our world around the fundamental principle that the state doesnt intrude on the family. Equality requires that we give the same freedom to underprivileged children as we give to privileged childrento be raised by crappy parents.

For a long time after she lost her children, Mercedes was homeless. She couldnt sleep at her mothers anymore, and she didnt have close friends, so she floated from place to place, staying in each as long as her host would let her, sometimes staying with someone she had met that day. She refused to go to a shelter for single womenshe had heard there were fights in those places, and people stole things. She was used to this. Her life had been this way since she was sixteenstaying with her mother, getting thrown out, staying with a friend, getting in an argument, moving on. Besides, she didnt have her kids, so she barely cared what happened to her. When they take your kids, its like everything stops, she says. Your heart stops. Everything stops. Then youre trying to figure out what the hell to do next. What do I do? Once they take them, you dont have no reason to be here no more. Your kids give you purpose.

She was permitted to see her children each week in a room at the foster-care agency, but she came to dread these visits, because they were so short and saying goodbye was awful for everyone, and because someone from the agency would watch them, taking notes on how she and the kids behaved together. But mostly she dreaded them because the kids had started saying things about her. They said that their foster mother had told them that Mercedes was bad, that she was a drug addict, that she didnt want them back. Mercedes started coming late to visits, and sometimes she wouldnt show up at all, and the kids would get very upset. Sherman ruled that if Mercedes was late for a visit it would be cancelled, and Mercedes was late. She was late for court dates, too. Mercedes has no sense of time, her mother says. I tell her, Dont leave when you feel like it, stop getting up when you feel like it, you got to be in court at twelve, how dare you get there when its over? The foster agency warned the foster mother not to disparage Mercedes in front of the children, but she continued to do it. (A.C.S., Judge Sherman, and the foster agency all have a policy of not discussing open cases.)

Before she took in Mercedess kids, the foster mother had been earning a little money cleaning houses and watching peoples children, but now she began receiving foster-care benefits. Mercedess children were medically complicated, so the payments were higher than usual. For special children in New York, foster parents are paid up to $1,289 a month; for exceptional children, the payment is $1,953; so to take care of all three of them the foster mother was likely being paid between forty-six and sixty-two thousand dollars a year, plus up to seventeen hundred dollars a year in clothing allowance. If she ended up adopting the children, she would receive benefits until each child turned twenty-one.

She wanted to adopt them. In the past, foster parents often did not want to adopt, so if a parents rights were terminated the children were forced to go to yet another home. To overcome this problem, the foster agency that was supervising Mercedess children had a policy of encouraging foster parents to consider adoption. The trouble with this solution was that foster parents were prompted from the start to form attachments to the children, and their hopes were pitted against those of the biological parents.

While the case dragged on and Mercedes drifted, the agency was helping the foster mother with housing. They done moved this lady three times, and every time the apartments getting bigger, Mercedes said bitterly. But you cant help the biological mother whos showing you that she wants her kids? If they would have done that for me in the first place, I wouldnt be in the situation that Im in now, and Id have my kids. Between constantly moving from place to place and feeling that A.C.S. had it in for her, and wasnt going to return her kids no matter how hard she tried or how many parenting classes she enrolled in, Mercedes had started to fray. By this time, Im tired. I love my kids, but Im tired. My mind is tired. My body is tired. I keep gettingexcuse my languagedicked around by A.C.S. Theyre lying to me, theyre being disrespectful. So I start to disappear for a while.

Every time she came to court she felt surrounded by people who were convinced that she was a bad mother and a bad person, although they barely knew her. At one point, we had a court date when the lawyer for the foster-care agency first came on, she says. And when we met outside he kept saying, Oh, youre really clean. What the fuck does that mean? I dont see nothing wrong with you, you look clean. Because Im black Im supposed to be dirty? She would sit in the courtroom resentfully listening to the caseworker note when shed been late to a visit, or missed a therapy appointment, but not mention when the foster mother was late, or when she missed the kids doctors appointments, or that she had been telling the kids terrible and untrue things about their mother. The lawyers only ever brought up the bad stuff about her, she felt; never the good. One time when she was at a conference at the foster-care agency, Leslie burst into the room and said, I have an announcement to makeI love my mommy; and then next time they were in court there was Leslies attorney advocating against reuniting her with her mother, and there was no mention of what Leslie had said until Mary Anne Mendenhall, representing Mercedes, brought it up.

The judge kept saying she understood Mercedes, because they had been encountering each other in court for years, but she knew only a few things about her life. It always bothered Mercedes when Judge Sherman would look at her and say, I know you very well, Mendenhall says. Mercedes would walk out crying and say, She doesnt know me! She only knows what they say about me! Shes never talked to me, she doesnt know anything about who I am. Just because of the number of pages shed read about Mercedes, to feel entitled to look her in the eye and say, I know you very well. I dont think Judge Sherman recognized what that meant to Mercedes. And how wrong it was. And how many times she said it.

Mary Anne Mendenhall worked at the Bronx Defenders, on East 161st Street, a few blocks from the courthouse. She and her colleagues represented parents in family court, and so they often found themselves at odds with A.C.S. and the foster-care agencies. They believed that A.C.S. frequently drew the line between neglect and poverty in the wrong placethat parents lived in unsafe apartments without enough food and left their children home alone because they had no choice. What was required much of the time, the defenders believed, was not parenting classes but material assistancehousing, childcare, medication, food. They also believed that family court was racist. Why, when the Bronx was forty per cent white, were nearly a hundred per cent of their clients black or Latino? Why was the percentage of the population in foster care twice as high in the Bronx as it was on Staten Island? They believed that child protection had become for black women what the criminal-justice system was for black men.

New lawyers at the Bronx Defenders are asked to stay for three years, and many of them leave as soon as that time is up. A defender in family court will have between seventy-five and ninety clients at a time; each of these clients is in the middle of one of the most painful crises of her life and is depending on her lawyer to get her out of it, and much of the time the lawyer will fail. Almost all desperately want their children back, but some cant seem to do even the simpler things that A.C.S. requires of them, like being on time for appointments. The defenders ask their clients to do these thingsthey explain that, even if they may not have anything to do with being a good parent, they are what the system demands and are the quickest way to get their kids backbut if their clients still dont do them they have to accept it. Many of these people have been supervised their whole lives, threatened their whole lives, Mendenhall says. If you dont da-da-da, youre going to get kicked out of class. If you dont da-da-da, Im going to suspend you. And they dont care. So when I say, If you would just stop smoking marijuana wed be done with this, theyre probably thinking something like, Do your jobyou know Im not hurting my kids. There is a saying at the Bronx Defenders: You cant work harder than your client, and you cant want it more.

Some clients are constantly in touch, texting, calling, pleading for help. Others disappear and have to be tracked downthey dont have a fixed home, their phones run out of minutes, they get a new number and forget to mention it. Bronx Defenders who previously worked in criminal court are befuddled by this: they usually knew where their clients werein jail.

In criminal court, defense lawyers have an established function that everyone understands, but in family court a parents attorney who puts up a real fight is still a novelty. Ten years ago, most parents were represented by individual public defenders who were too harried to get to know their clients and often deferred to A.C.S. Even now, the old assumptions of benevolence persist. Although judges know in principle that hearings are adversarial, they may feel that in practice they and the lawyers should be on the same teamafter all, everyone wants whats best for the family. So they may feel affronted when a lawyer clearly doesnt feel that way, or even seems to believe that other actors in the courtroom are taking their positions because they dont understandor dont sympathize withwhat its like to be poor. Judges and lawyers for A.C.S. and the foster-care agencies often complain that the Bronx Defenders are too aggressive, apt to make the whole process so nasty. But they are not the only aggressive ones. Theres a lot of yelling in family courtjudges telling lawyers to shut up and sit down; judges scolding caseworkers for not doing their job; lawyers sniping at one another in barbed, formal language; parents shouting that accusations are untrue, or about the unfairness of the system.

Sometimes the Bronx Defenders worry that their aggression is bad for their clients. A contentious family court reinforces the belief that the interests of children and their parents can be separated, and this belief usually works to the detriment of the parents. The defenders feel that a large part of what the court and A.C.S. require from parents is compliance and deference, so will it harm their cases if their lawyers show neither? There certainly are times when judges complain to me, Why cant you people get along with everybody? Youre doing your clients a disservice by not helping them to do what were asking, Emma Ketteringham says. And I remind myself, We are not a nonprofit with a mission of reforming the system; our mission is to represent the parents. Now, that is always tricky, because we are members of this system which we all strongly believe is racist and classist and doing harm to the families it claims to serve. But, when its an individual client, the conversation must always be: If you invite that caseworker in who is so condescending and rude to you, doesnt remember your childrens names and has everything wrong about youif you invite her in and serve her food rather than give her attitude, your children will come home more quickly. Its unlawful for us to prioritize fighting the system over advocating for our clients, because we have a duty of loyalty. On the other hand, Ketteringham believes that the small fights they pick are, year by year, having a cumulative effect. You will now hear judges turn to A.C.S. and say, A parenting class? Really? Wait, domestic-violence therapy and regular therapy? Thats from us pushing. Ten years ago it was so much worse, in terms of the cookie-cutter services that everybody rolled their eyes about.

So much about working in family court was maddening, it was small wonder that people got on each others nerves. It had always been that way, and it seemed it always would be, since, each time a solution to a problem was found, that solution seemed to generate new and worse problems of its own. A few years ago, everyone with a court date was told to show up at 9 A.M. and wait. Since it was unpredictable how long the earlier cases would take, a person might wait all day without seeing a judge and be told to come back the next day, which might mean losing his job; and, once started, a hearing would continue until it was finished, even if it took till eight or nine at night. This was bad for the people who worked at the court, bad for the people whose cases werent heard, and bad for the citys budget, because it required so much overtime. So the court instituted time certains, so you could be reasonably sure that your case was going to be heard at a particular time, and it started shutting down promptly at four-thirty every day. But in order to keep to the time certains while moving each case along on the schedule mandated by law, hearings and trials had to be scheduled in short time slotshalf an hour, an hourspread out over the course of many months. In fact, most of the half-hour slots were closer to twenty minutes, because nearly ten minutes was spent trying to agree on a slot to meet the next time, with the judge and three or four lawyers and caseworkers all consulting their scheduling books and calling out when they could and couldnt make it. And all those months spent piecing together the few hours required for a hearing or trial were months that removed children spent in foster care.

Then, there were the times when family court was even more tense than usual: after a gruesome and highly publicized murder of a child, people in child protection got very jittery and very cautious. More calls came in to the hotline, A.C.S. filed for more removals, and judges were more likely to grant them. What in normal times seemed like a small, ordinary mistakeforgetting to take a child to a doctors appointment, bringing him to school late, getting drunk in his presencecould, in the wake of a death, seem like a portent of danger. And you never saw headlines accusing caseworkers of removing children when they didnt have to. Last October, the month after six-year-old Zymere Perkins died, allegedly at the hands of his mother and her boyfriend, foster-care placements increased by thirty per cent. Newspaper accounts of child deaths often suggested that A.C.S. workers had too many cases to do their jobs properly, but caseloads had been reduced over the years to a reasonable numberusually between eight and fifteen. It wasnt that caseworkers had too many clients, but that what they were required to dochange human behavior, predict the futurewas very hard.

With so many serious and intractable issues to deal with in family court, the Bronx Defenders found it particularly infuriating when A.C.S. would argue for removal based on something they felt was relatively trivial, like marijuana. I remember one case where I was struggling with whether I was going to make a finding of neglect, Ronald Richter, who was a family-court judge from 2009 to 2011, before serving as the A.C.S. commissioner, says. The mother was smoking marijuana in the shelter bathroom while her baby was on the bed in the next-door room, and I just didnt feel that the agency had proved harm to the child. The record was so spare. There was nothing to show that this motherthey wanted me to make all these inferences! And I struggled and struggled and struggled. Then the mother didnt show up to court, and her lawyer had nothing to say, so I was able to draw a negative inference and I made a finding and I was so relieved that that settled it.

It had become rare for a child to be removed solely because the parent was smoking marijuana, but if kids had already been removed and the parent tested positive it was often a reason not to give them back. This seemed to Mendenhall so grossly unreasonable that she would sometimes lash out at the A.C.S. lawyers in the hallway afterward. Never say marijuana again in this courthouse until you call the police on your friend from college who dares to smoke it when he has children at home, she fumes. One guy said to me, My own friends and familys marijuana use is neither here nor there. And I said, How can that be? How can it be ? If you really believe in what youre saying. It was this double standard that galled her the most. Blaming parents for the side effects of poverty was bad enough, but to censure them for doing what middle-class people did all the time without any fear of prosecution was too much. There was no leeway, no give, no mercy at all, if you were poor. Im not in favor of corporal punishment, she says. I dont plan to hit my children, if I ever have them. I assume I will at some point, though, because thats how I was raised. I will be shocked at myself, and I will have the comfort and the privilege within my family of processing how I failed, and saying to my child, I lost it, Im really sorry. Our clients never have that privilege.

She knew that A.C.S. lawyers and caseworkers had jobs to do, and that those jobs were necessary to protect children. But there was a certain personality type that inclined toward that kind of work. One of the A.C.S. lawyers, a couple years ago I saw her on the train, and I had a dog at the time. My dog was sixteen and I kept her alive till she was seventeendoing O.K. First thing that lawyer did was stick her finger in my dogs collar and say, Its a little tight, Ms. Mendenhall.

Because A.C.S. continued to complain in court about Mercedess marijuana use, and because she hoped that a dramatic demonstration of compliance and sacrifice might convince them that she was determined to reform, in 2012 she enrolled in a yearlong in-patient drug-treatment program called La Casita. At first, it was hard. I didnt have no phone, she says. You got to get rid of everythingno nails, no hair, no makeup, nothing, youre in there Plain Jane. I didnt really understand the logic of why you got to take my weave out, or why I cant wear earrings. I cried about my hair. They said, To strip you down to nothing and build you back up. But you already feel like shit because your kids are in the system. Why would you want me to feel like nothing? I already feel like nothing. She couldnt believe she was there in the first placeshe looked around and saw dope fiends and crackheads, and all shed done was smoke some pot.

But then she grew close to a couple of the counsellors; she felt they understood her and gave her good advice. They believed in her and thought she should get her children back. Little by little, she started to unfurl. Like most women that enter treatment, she didnt trust, she came from a broken home, she was always fighting, Yolanda Stevenson, one of the counsellors, says. She was angry at herself, and at the system. I also think that she suffered from some form of depression, which was taboo for her. For a lot of African-Americans, we feel its taboowere not crazy, why should we have therapy? But when youre fighting with your mother like boxers, thats a little off. Mercedes felt that, after months of shutting down and running away from her life, this was her last chance, and she seized it.

Judge Sherman saw how hard she was trying, and how far shed come, and said that the kids could visit her on weekends. She said that soon theyd be able to come for overnight visits, so La Casita moved Mercedes to a bigger room, with enough beds for all the kids to sleep there. Tiana was being fed through a tube into her stomach now, and Mercedes studied up on it so she would know how to take care of her. I knew how to flush it, I knew how to mix it, I knew how to put the milk and cereal together and put the tube in and everything, she says. Mendenhall argued that the only remaining barrier to reuniting the family was housing, and Sherman charged the foster-care agency with arranging it. The agency resistedit believed that the children should be adopted by their foster motherbut she ordered it to comply. Now it was only a matter of finding an apartment: after three and a half years, it would be just a few more months before the family could be together.

That year2013Mercedes brought her kids to Thanksgiving dinner at her aunts house. Thanksgiving was beautiful, she says. My aunt and my grandfather hadnt seen Leslie, Camron, and Tiana since they were babies. We ate, we laughed, we talked. My aunt has one of them big dummies with no arms that they have in defense classes, and Camron was fighting thatthey put boxing gloves on him and he went at it and had a ball. He was play-wrestling with my brother. Tiana, she was playing with toys with my cousin. Leslie was eating, talking to my mother, talking to my aunt.

Then, two days later, the agency told Mercedes that Camron had said that during the Thanksgiving dinner she had taken him into the bathroom and punched him in the stomach while her mother held his shirt up. More accusations followed: Leslie said that she had been abused, sexually and otherwise, by Mercedes and other people in her family. Later, Camron admitted to Mercedes and a caseworker at La Casita that the punching at Thanksgiving hadnt happened, that his foster mother had told him to say that, and the caseworker recorded his statement, but the foster-care agency said the statement sounded coerced.

A.C.S. investigated each of these reports but pursued none of them in court. But as soon as one was closed another accusation would be made, and no reunion could take place before the new report was properly looked into. It seemed that nobody really believed that Mercedes had abused her children, because she was never arrested, and during this period she gave birth to a fourth child, Amaya, and Amaya was never taken away. But the reports continued. I wish I could have helped Mercedes fight more, the way she was treated by the foster-care agency and the foster mother, Yolanda Stevenson says. Ive been in this field for twenty-three years, and I get that her children were traumatized. But I think her kids were coached by the foster mother to say these thingsMommy beat me, or whatever. Leslie started saying shed been hit by any number of people in addition to her motherby children on the school bus, by a teacher, by a teaching assistant in a school bathroom, by her foster parents. Sherman stopped the childrens unsupervised visits at La Casita, so Mercedes saw them at the foster-care agency again. But the foster mother reported that Mercedes sexually abused the children during those supervised visits.

Reports started coming in against the foster mother and her husband, too. There were several calls to the hotline from mandated reporterspeople, such as teachers and social workers, who were obligated to report suspected abuseaccusing her or her husband of mistreating the children. There were allegations of her hitting the son, Stevenson says, but they didnt remove the kids, which blew my mind. At first, Sherman didnt hear of the accusations against the foster mother, because the foster agency didnt mention them in court, and they were all ultimately deemed unfounded. When Sherman did hear, she berated the agency for not telling her sooner, but she decided that since it still seemed likely that the children would be reunited with their mother, they should not be moved to yet another home.

Even the agency was worried about what was going on. The agency itself had called in one of the maltreatment cases against the foster mother; it was concerned about her habit of filming the children when they were having tantrums. It also felt that her husband was not behaving enough like a father. When the caseworker visited, he would be in another room. She would tell him he had to come out and engage with the kids, especially since they wanted to adopt them, but he would say, My wife does that. The agency testified in court that there were incidents where the foster mother and her husband were very harsh with the children.

Mercedes had started missing visits again and turning up late, and after several warnings Judge Sherman became so concerned about the traumatizing effect her behavior was having on the children that she cancelled visits altogether. Mercedes was so far gone in despair by that point that she almost gave up. They already made up in their mind that theyre not going to give them back, she says. I feel as though they want me to say, Fuck it, let me just sign, take em. I get to that point. I get there. Thats why Ive been late. I can be on time; but when I m at home getting ready, I dont see an end to this tunnel, I dont see a light, its just pitch black, this is a fricking routine that is never going to fucking end, and I feel like Im drowning all the time. Lord knows, I love my kids. But, at the end of the day, its only so much one person is willing to take. She started crying. Ive dealt with everything. Everything they threw at me, I dealt with. After I busted my ass to make sure I got where I needed to be, they just snatched it back like it was nothing.

The children grew worse and worse. Camron threatened to kill his foster mother and her husband, and the month after the Thanksgiving dinner, when he was six, he ended up in a psychiatric hospital. Later on, he started threatening to kill himself, too, and he was hospitalized again and again. When Camron was nine and in a psychiatric ward, his foster mother took the girls and went on a vacation that she had planned, so he was all alone. In previous years, Sherman had seemed to agree with the foster-care agency that Camrons frightening behavior might be due to anxiety surrounding the visits with his mother, but now he hadnt seen his mother in more than a year and he was far sicker, and she was growing skeptical that Mercedes could still be blamed for what was happening. Since she wasnt allowed to visit Camron in the hospital, Mercedes called him on the phone the first day he was there, and he asked her to call him every day. She called the next day, and the next, but then the foster-care agency told the hospital that she was not allowed to have contact and her calls were blocked.

Camron reminded Mercedes of herselfhe was angry and difficult, and she knew he was going to have a rough adolescence, as shed had. What I kept telling their foster mother is You forget those are my kids, she says. My blood is running through them. My attitude is running through them. I gave my mother hell. You aint never been through no shit like that, so you aint going to understand, youre not going to get it. I will get it, because I been there. These are my kids. It seemed to Mercedes that the foster mother didnt really want Camronwhat kind of mother left a nine-year-old alone in a mental hospital and went on vacation? I felt the foster mother treated the daughters better than the son, Stevenson says. When the kids would come to visit, you could tell he needed a haircut, his clothes were shabby, he didnt smell the cleanest, so nobody was teaching him hygiene, but the girls looked like fashion models. At one point, Mercedes wondered whether she could make a devils bargain with A.C.S. to give up Leslie and Tiana if theyd give her Camronshe thought that the foster mother seemed genuinely attached to the girlsbut she just couldnt do it.

By the spring of 2017, Mercedes hadnt seen her children in nearly two years. She was living with Amaya in a shelter in Manhattan, near the F.D.R. Drive. So much time has gone past, I dont even know what my kids look like right now, she said. I look at them old pictures, I know Camron looks older. Hes taller. I know Leslie looks older and shes taller. I dont know what they look like. The foster-care agency was advocating strenuously for adoption. The point of no return was getting closer.

The agency asked the court to place Camron in a long-term residential treatment facility. Mercedes went there and asked for a tour, and she emerged feeling it wasnt as bad as shed feared. When the foster agency gave her a stack of medication-consent forms to sign, she first Googled each of the drugs they wanted to give him. There were four or five of them, and she looked up the side effects, the tics he might develop if he missed a dose, the withdrawal symptoms he would go through if he stopped taking them. Some of the antipsychotics sounded scary to her, especially for a kid as young as Camron. They want to put him on RisperdalI wont let them do that. That give boys breasts. Abilify? Thats fine, it calms you. They wanted to do the Ritalin for the A.D.H.D. Fine. The closer I can get to the organic stuff, I try to. Ive seen him in the hospital after hes woken up after they give him the shot to calm him down, and I dont like what I see. Hes not responsive quick enough for me. He just sit there, his mouth open. Hes talking, but its like the lights is on but nobodys home. And Im, like, no. Unh-unh. No.

For Mercedes, spring was the hardest time of year, because of birthdays. Camrons was March 21st, Tianas March 30th, Leslies May 5th. Each year, she braced herself for this dark period by going all out for Amayas birthday, in January. She would spend her food stamps on a birthday cake and they would celebrate together. Your birthday is special, she would tell her. Thats the day you changed me. Thats the day you made me feel like I need to be here. Because I didnt feel like I needed to be here for a long time. They always made me feel like my kids never needed me, they didnt want me, they was better off with this lady. I just lost the will to live. It was like, whatever happened to me happened to me, Im on the streets until whatever. But, when I saw Amaya, that was my purposeto make sure she didnt go into care. I made sure that that baby stayed with me, and Im going to continue to make sure that my baby stay with me. I refuse to lose her. I fucking refuse to. They will have to kill me.

The reckless destruction of American families in pursuit of the goal of protecting children is as serious a problem as the failure to protect children, Martin Guggenheim, Shermans former colleague, says. We need to understand that destroying the parent-child relationship is among the highest forms of state violence. It should be cabined and guarded like a nuclear weapon. You use it when you must. He believes the tide is turning in his directionnine thousand children in foster care in New York City compared with fifty thousand, changing views on drugsbut each time a child is murdered by a parent some gain is lost. After the death of Zymere Perkins, last year, Mayor de Blasio spoke on the radio about the case. Our mission is to save every child, he said. Unlike pretty much any other area in governmentwe do not set a standard for perfection in policing or so many other areasin this case we do set a standard of perfection. He said, Our job is to get there first and intervene and stop it.

In Dostoyevskys novel The Brothers Karamazov, Ivan asks his brother Alyosha to consider the murder of a child and what price he would pay to avert it.

Imagine that you are creating a fabric of human destiny with the object of making men happy in the end, giving them peace and rest at last, but that it was essential and inevitable to torture to death only one tiny creaturethat baby beating its breast with its fist, for instanceand to found that edifice on its unavenged tears, would you consent to be the architect on those conditions? Tell me, and tell the truth.

No, I wouldnt consent, said Alyosha softly.

Children are killed all the time. But when confronted with one particular dead child and asked if there is no limit to what we should do to prevent another from dying like thatif perfection should be the goal of child-protective services, and if the state should intervene before bad things happen, just in caseit is very difficult to say no, even if the price is other children and parents suffering while alive.

Mercedes knows that, at this point, she has very little chance of getting her kids back. She knows that they will probably grow up without her, and that she may not even be allowed to see them. The foster mother and Mercedess mother arent friends anymore. The photographs she has will get more and more out of date, and Camron, Leslie, and Tiana will become people she doesnt know. What she hopes for now is that when theyre grown, when theyre adults and can do as they like, one day they will come and find her. I will always be looking for that phone call, for that hit up on Facebook: Mommy, what happened? she says. It will be years till then, but its been years already, and shell survive as long as she has Amaya. Im waiting for it, she says. I got time. Camron, thats eight more years till hes eighteen. Leslie is, what, nine more years. Tiana is six now. So Im waiting for it. Im waiting for it.

Read the rest here:
When Should a Child Be Taken from His Parents? – The New Yorker

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Homeless people living in FiDi hotels can’t afford food – New York Post

July 31st, 2017 by admin

The city is shelling out a fortune to house hundreds of homeless people in pricey Financial District hotels but they hate living in the red-hot Manhattan neighborhood.

The free housing bestowed on scores of down-on-their-luck families is negated by the sky-high cost of food and other services in the trendy area, homeless hotel residents griped to The Post.

A homeless man whos living with his wife in the DoubleTree by Hilton at 8 Stone St. said it was disturbing the city would put us in a neighborhood like this, one of the richest neighborhoods in New York.

We are trying to be in the shelter to save up money, not spend. The sandwiches are $17, I cant afford that, said the man, 67, who did not want to be identified. We live out of Burger King and eat the cheapest thing.

Homeless mom Leeyen Riggon, who is eight-months pregnant, said she and her two daughters, ages 2 and 6, have spent the past three months crammed into a room at the Holiday Inn Express at 126 Water St. She also showed The Post a photo of a bedbug on the linen Friday.

My room is one bed, no microwave, no refrigerator, and I am sleeping on the bed with my two kids, said Riggon, 25. Its just terrible being here. I dont get treated like a human; I am treated like Im in jail.

The city wouldnt say exactly how much its spending to house homeless people near the New York Stock Exchange, but the three hotels being used typically charge as much as $429 a night.

Regular paying guests werent happy to learn that their hotels are doubling as homeless shelters.

I wish I would have known ahead of time … It kind of grosses me out, said Stacy P., a business traveler from Milwaukee, as she checked out of the DoubleTree.

A married couple living near the Holiday Inn on Nassau Street blasted the arrangement as a Band-Aid on the problem of homelessness, and fretted it would drive down their quality of life.

Its not a good solution, said the wife, 30, who didnt want to be identified. One homeless person can say, Hey, this hotel is down here, now more homeless people can come down to the area.

The de Blasio administration said its renting 180 rooms to house 336 people because there are no homeless shelters in the area, where 450-plus people in the shelter system formerly lived.

Homeless people now fill more than one third of both Holiday Inn hotels, which the city began using last August, and 25 percent of the DoubleTree, which was added in February.

In April, The Post revealed that the city has used 30 Manhattan hotels to house homeless people, and Comptroller Scott Stringer has said taxpayers spent $73 million on hotel rooms during the 12 months ending Oct. 31, 2016 including $629 a night for some rooms in Times Square.

Asked what the Financial District lodging is costing taxpayers, officials provided only an average of $222 per hotel room, including social services.

Even that rate which works out to $6,660 a month dwarfs the cost of nearby studio apartments currently on the market for $2,195 to $3,795 a month.

Officials are planning to replace the hotels with a new homeless shelter, according to the city Human Resources Administration.

HRA rep Arianna Fishman said. We anticipate identifying new shelter space within this community for at least 450 individuals.

Neither the owners of the hotels nor their corporate parents returned requests for comment.

Additional reporting by Rich Calder and Ross Toback

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Homeless people living in FiDi hotels can’t afford food – New York Post

Now this columnist can ‘sleep tight’ – San Diego Jewish World

July 30th, 2017 by admin

Posted on 29 July 2017.

By David AndersonThe Moderate Voice

David Anderson

NEW YORK I live in a 20 story apartment building in Chelsea, Manhattan. I was a little concerned yesterday when the building manager whom I ran into in the elevator whispered: We need to chat in private.

Ive had problems with one particular neighbor so I assumed it was about him. After his spurious complaints about the occasional waft of tobacco smoke emanating from under my door he tried to sue me weeks after my moving in seven years ago. Sue a lawyer with time on his hands: good move, asshole.

It wasnt idiot neighbor, though. Apparently the folks one below me, a nice young couple I know as elevator friends, brought home some bedbugs. The building manager wanted to arrange an inspection by a professional bedbug search and destroy firm for apartments contiguous to, above and below the poor couple in 13G.

To contextualize this you really need to understand the horror and the sadness of people afflicted with these severe little buggers. Theyre typhoid and malaria and flesh eating herpes all rolled into one for New Yorkers and we dread them. The local news never shuts up about them, and if you throw out a mattress in this city the sanitation department wont touch it unless its sealed in a $40 mattress condom to prevent jumping bugs. Im from Australia where insects are the size of telephones and kill you with neurotoxins in minutes, but I was still knocked off-kilter by all this.

Exterminator Jim and his dog arrived promptly at 7pm they get to make their own hours it seems and curt hellos were exchanged. Jim was telling me you cant even kill them with cold or hot laundry washes or you just end up with cleaner bedbugs. Theyre mainly found in poorer neighborhoods. So they look ugly, suck the blood of the poor and are almost impossible to get rid of. Like Republicans, really, I quipped.

Id seen his companys adds on TV where they use a beagle to sniff out the bedbugs like at the airport with heroin in suitcases. My dog, a friendly Australian Shepherd named Aussie assumed Id invited the beagle over for him as a playmate. But no: this dog was all business.

You know when youre at the airport and customs is going through your bags, sorting, sifting, sniffing? And youre pretty sure theres nothing in there but your mind goes to what could be there and you think of how Paul McCartney once spent two weeks in a Japanese jail for an inadvertent spec of hash found in Linda McCartneys make-up case. Our psyches arent up to this kind of buffeting. It wasnt just the prospect of an almost unlimited amount of money and hassle to de-louse my house, what griped me was the gossip that would burn through the building like a London tower block that David is the Bed Bug Guy, and attendant community shame.

It was all very Midnight Express: Theres something! my inspector-inquisitor exclaimed when his dog got interested in a pile. I kept my cool: Is it Ebola? I asked like a smartass.

Ehhhh? Nah. Looks likelike a hidden dog treat.


Then I thought: What a fantastic job he has! He gets to go into peoples homes, people already a little psychologically off-balance by the thought of being THE INFECTED, poke through their stuff: their bed, their closets, their laundry baskets, crotchless lingerie, rubber mankinis, guns, drugs, and INSPECT them. And with his dog! How wonderful: its like being a modern day witch hunter: or walkies for the officiously curious. Im sure the beagles enjoy it: dogs love a job.

The upshot? The infected neighbors downstairs in 13H were of course walked through the lobby nude in irons and swiftly lynched (pursuant to our Rental Agreement, Sec. C, subpara 4.5). We all got em in the lobby, a nice local touch as the Management Company usually do capital punishment at their office in Midtown. Their apartment was scorched to a cinder with flamethrowers. My apartment came up clean and now we can all get some unbitten sleep. So sleep tight, and dont let the well you know the rest. *

David Anderson is an Australian-American who lives in New York with his dog Aussie, and absolutely no bedbugs.

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Now this columnist can ‘sleep tight’ – San Diego Jewish World

ECO-KILLER Invented by InventHelp Client (MTN-2809) – Press Release Rocket (press release)

July 22nd, 2017 by admin

One of America’s largest invention submission companies, InventHelp is submitting the ECO-KILLER to companies for their review.

PITTSBURGH, PA (PRWEB) July 21, 2017

I have been in the extermination business for 25 years and I thought there needed to be a better way to kill bedbugs, said an inventor, from Brooklyn, N.Y., so I invented the ECO-KILLER.

The ECO-KILLER provides an environmentally-friendly way to eradicate bedbugs. In doing so, it offers an alternative to traditional pesticides. As a result, it offers added peace of mind. The invention features an effective design that is convenient and easy to use so it is ideal for pest control agents, maintenance personnel and households. Additionally, the ECO-KILLER is producible in design variations and a prototype is available.

The inventor described the invention design. My design offers an environmentally-friendly alternative to traditional pesticides.

The original design was submitted to the Manhattan office of InventHelp. It is currently available for licensing or sale to manufacturers or marketers. For more information, write Dept. 16-MTN-2809, InventHelp, 217 Ninth Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or call (412) 288-1300 ext. 1368. Learn more about InventHelp’s Invention Submission Services at

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ECO-KILLER Invented by InventHelp Client (MTN-2809) – Press Release Rocket (press release)

Bed Bugs | City of New York – Welcome to | City of …

July 18th, 2017 by admin

You can report bed bugs in:

If you report bed bugs in a residential building, hotel, or SRO, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) will conduct an inspection. HPD may conduct inspections with a bed bug-sniffing dog. If bed bugs are found, the residential building owner may get a ticket. To report bed bugs in a private house or apartment, you must be a tenant in the building, and you must provide your contact information.

Under the NYC Bed Bug Disclosure Act, landlords must notify prospective tenants in writing about any bed bug infestations that have occurred in their building in the past year. If you want to make a complaint about a landlord who is not complying with this law, you should contact NYS Homes and Community Renewal at (718) 739-6400.

To report bed bugs in businesses, nonprofit organizations, or child care facilities, you should contact the manager or owner of the facility.

If you are a private homeowner, you should hire a pest control professional licensed by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation to evaluate the pest problem and to exterminate if necessary. Licensed exterminators should always provide proof of their license upon request.

You can get information about bed bugs, including:

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Bed Bugs | City of New York – Welcome to | City of …

USA and Canada Bed Bug Registry Links
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Neutralize Bed Bugs Call Professionals Today


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