Thursday, May 22, 2008

This Just In: Polygamists' Rights Were Violated

Court: Texas had no right to take polygamists' kids
SAN ANGELO, Texas (AP) -- A state appellate court has ruled that child welfare officials had no right to seize more than 400 children living at a polygamist sect's ranch.

The Third Court of Appeals in Austin ruled that the grounds for removing the children were "legally and factually insufficient" under Texas law. They did not immediately order the return of the children.

Child welfare officials removed the children on the grounds that the sect pushed underage girls into marriage and sex and trained boys to become future perpetrators.

The appellate court ruled the chaotic hearing held last month did not demonstrate the children were in any immediate danger, the only measure of taking children from their homes without court proceedings.
For whatever you might think of the lifestyle of these people (and I absolutely do not condone what is believed to be some of their practices) we still do have some due process laws in this country which cannot and should not be ignored, and apparently many of these families' rights have been violated.

The wholesale round-up of hundreds of people from this compound is just astonishing, especially as it came about from a mysterious phone call by a person that has yet to be identified.

The fact of the matter is that this raid was accomplished in a very bizarre manner. I guess it's a good thing the place wasn't torched like WACO, so maybe government agents are slowly learning. In any case this court's ruling is very interesting, and what is also interesting is that they did not mandate the return of the kids to their families.

I also found this article from the Salt Lake Tribune to be very interesting:
Children living in crowded quarters that led to upper respiratory illnesses. Youngsters plagued with diarrhea from unhealthy foods they usually did not eat. Distressed mothers enduring widespread rudeness - such as flashlights shined in their faces as they tried to sleep.
Mental health professionals who helped care for FLDS women and children in the weeks after an April raid on the YFZ Ranch describe conditions and treatment they perceived as harsh and unnecessary.
"Never in all my life, and I am one of the older ladies, have I been so ashamed of being a Texan and seeing what and how our government agencies treat people," wrote one employee of Hill Country Community Mental Health and Mental...
"The floor was literally slick with tears..."
Suffice it to say that parents have said they were lied to by DCF workers, and that Foster care has not been an optimal solution for many of these kids who have been raised completely differently from what most American kids experience. The whole thing is very sad and I feel badly for these kids most of all. They are scared, confused, and being subjected to totally foreign culture and food and this has got to be an incredible trauma for them overall, maybe even more so then the alleged abuse they were rescued from. We'll never know... but one thing is for certain the lawsuits will probably go on for a long long time.

I find it interesting to see the legal and moral conflicts between religious freedom, child safety, personal rights, government intervention, constitutional rights, law enforcement and parental rights in this matter.