Child Support

Letters from the week of March 20, 2003

 Sex and the City

Mr. "Plig": John Dougherty's article about polygamy was great ("Bound by Fear," March 13). He should get a Pulitzer for the way he's dug into the dirt in this filthy corner of the planet.

What keeps being missed is that the "pligs" have been allowed to isolate themselves from law enforcement. That is a big part of the problem. What needs to be done is to put governmental agencies, including law enforcement, along with CPS, welfare and other agencies, in Colorado City itself. That way, if a girl is being forced into an illegal sexual union, she has a place to run.

As for Colorado City's Mickey Mouse little plig police force, it should be eliminated. The "policemen" should be de-certified. In addition to that, the city charter should be revoked, since the city is being used as a front for a criminal enterprise.

Jim Ashurst
Henderson, Nevada

No rights make a wrong: It's really quite simple. It's child abuse and it's illegal. And we are supporting this insanity? What's wrong with our politicians and our state?

Marie Hanna
Phoenix

Hair-raising: LOVED the co-winky-dink regarding the timing of the article "Bound By Fear" and the discovery of Elizabeth Smart's "abduction" by Brian David Mitchell. Even more amusing is the media portrayal of Mitchell as a polygamous religious nut job. The only thing that separates Mitchell from the rest of the Mormon community is his facial hair.

Name withheld by request

The Jam Bandwagon

Backspin: Your recent article, Positive Spin" by Christopher O'Conner (March 6), has left me perplexed. Although there is a great deal of truth to Mr. O'Conner's analysis of the music scene (or lack thereof) in Phoenix, he seems to have missed an entire genre that has been growing steadily and cohesively. That genre is the all-too-often overlooked jam band scene.

As a member of one of the many Phoenix jam bands that has sprung up recently, I would encourage you to visit the Sail Inn on occasion. The Sail has recently installed an amazing outdoor stage and regularly plays host to local bands drawing 200 to 300 fans.

You may also want to take a moment to look at Web sites such as www.azheads.com and intelligroove.azheads.com. You may be surprised to find a thriving, if still small, music scene. The musicians in these bands are not isolated from one another; we are constantly in touch, doing side projects with members of other bands, getting together to just jam, and supporting each other at shows.

Again, I encourage you to explore this part of the Phoenix music scene. I'm sure that you will find it to be some of the best live music in the area.

Matt Kwiatkowski
Mesa

Family Ties

The kid stays in the picture: On behalf of those of us on the "family values left," let me suggest that you'd feel "somewhat beleaguered," too, if the publication you hoped might offer an alternative to the Arizona Republic's cheerleading for tearing children from their families instead credited the people who want to take away more children with supporting "child safety" 14 separate times when the approach actually puts children in more danger ("Heaven Help the Child," Amy Silverman, February 27).

What Governor Napolitano and her allies really support is a massive increase in child removal. And their fervor for this approach proves that, in child welfare, nothing succeeds like failure.

Since 1993, Illinois, New York City and Florida all embraced the same "take-the-child-and-run" approach favored by Napolitano. The results were always the same: Workers were so overwhelmed with children who didn't need to be in foster care that they actually had less time to find children in real danger. So deaths of children previously "known to the system" actually increased. Illinois and New York City reversed course; embraced sage, proven programs to keep families together; cut their foster care populations and made children safer. Florida has just announced plans to do the same.

Similarly, the state of Alabama and the county-run system in Pittsburgh/ Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, both slashed their foster care populations and improved child safety in recent years. In Alabama, for example, re-abuse of children left in their own home has been cut in half, and an independent court-appointed monitor says the reforms have improved child safety.

As for ideology: If John Ashcroft proposed an anti-terrorism law that allowed searches of homes and strip searches of the people living in them without warrants, detention for days and sometimes a month or more before those detained even saw the inside of a courtroom, conviction based not on a standard of "beyond a reasonable doubt" but only "preponderance of the evidence," and a requirement that all trials and documents be secret, the left would be furious.

But that is the system in place now when it comes to child welfare in Arizona and the rest of the country. Indeed, it's even worse, because those who are interrogated, strip-searched and detained are not criminals, but children. New Times claims that a few minimal due process protections are meant to ensure "parents' rights" more loaded language instead of the child's right not to be torn from everyone he knows and loves. And instead of suggesting drug treatment, New Times says Arizona desperately needs a law allowing automatic confiscation of a child whenever any parent abuses any drug under any circumstances.

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