Friday, October 31, 2013
I write today to criticize Sheriff Grady Judd of Polk County, Florida. In case you do not recall his name, he is the vocal sheriff of the county where 12-year-old Rebecca Sedwick jumped to her death from a tower in an abandoned cement plant after she could no longer endure internet bullying by two girls, 12 and 14 years old. He arrested and charged the girls with stalking. I wrote about this tragic case here.
Judd told CBS News’ Crimesider that he charged the girls with stalking because what they did to Sedwick went beyong bullying into harassment and intimidation, but he also said that Sedwick had problems at home that may have contributed to her state of mind on the day of her death. According to Judd, Sedwick slept not on a bed at home, but in a recliner. Her sister, said Judd, slept on the couch, and the girls’ clothes were kept in “grocery sacks” in the living room.
Sedwick’s mother, Tricia Norman, has been in trouble with the law since at least 1995, when she was charged with multiple counts of writing bad checks, according to Polk County records. In 2005, she was again charged with writing bad checks, as well as fraud and probation violation. The records reveal that Norman apparently has several aliases, including Tricia Craig, Tricia Howard and Tricia Jones.
These comments are extremely offensive and unacceptable. The so-called “problems at home” to which Sheriff Judd refers do not refer to absence of love or neglect. They describe poverty.
22 million children in this country live in poverty, according to the most recent census.
The prior record to which CBS Crimesider refers consists of writing bad checks 8 and 18 years ago.
Sheriff Judd should know that poverty and unemployment are rampant in this country. Millions of people are out of work through no fault of their own. Living in poverty does not mean that a parent loves their child less than any other parent.
Richard J. Coley is the Executive Director of the ETS Center for Research on Human Capital and Education. Three days ago in What The Poverty Rate Tells Us, he wrote:
The “official” poverty rate, first adopted in 1969, is based on a list of income thresholds for families of different sizes; the thresholds are updated annually to recognize inflation. For example, in 2011 the threshold for a family of four is $23,021. The definition used in this measure uses money income before taxes and tax credits and excludes capital gains and noncash benefits such as food stamps and housing assistance. Some details about who is in poverty using the “official” Census Bureau measure are provided below.
Of the 46.2 million Americans in poverty in 2011 the largest number are White (31 million). 13 million Hispanics, 11 million Blacks, and 2 million Asians are in poverty. The official poverty rate is 15 percent. Of course that’s an average and averages often hide as much as they reveal. So here are some differences in the poverty rate for different groups of people. Among racial/ethnic groups, 28 percent of Blacks, 25 percent of Hispanics (any race), 13 percent of Whites, and 12 percent of Asians are poor. The poverty rate for our nation’s children is 22 percent. While 6 percent of married-couple families were poor, the rate for families with a single female householder with no husband present is 31 percent. The poverty rate for those with a disability is 29 percent. For those working full-time the rate is 3 percent; the rate for those who have not worked at all during the year is 33 percent. It’s only when you start to look at poverty across these segments of the population that the bigger picture becomes meaningful. Then, instead of just faceless averages and generalizations, you can start to visualize the people affected–the how and why. Looking at the poverty numbers this way gives us clues to strategies that can help us combat it.
Sheriff Judd has no business expressing his personal opinions about anyone. Period. For any reason.
To add to a mother’s grief for the loss of her child by making comments like this is disgusting.
CBS Crimesider has no business trashing a grieving mother for problems she had with the law 8 and 18 years ago.