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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mom's action must be punished too

Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Harold Reed was standing at a Detroit bus stop when a young woman approached him and handed over her 3-month-old baby boy. The woman, Shaniqua Betty, had just fought with her boyfriend and had fled her home barefoot. For some yet unexplained reason, the woman handed her son to Reed and returned to her apartment to retrieve her purse and shoes. That fatal mistake would cost the baby its life.

Reed took the child home and sometime during the night police say Reed killed the infant. A jury sentenced him to life in prison this week despite Reed's assertion that the baby was injured before the mother abandoned him with the stranger. Reed insisted that he did all he could to help the infant and then panicked and left the child in an abandoned house.

Here's where I disagree with the courts in this tragic case. Police say the infant had been beaten and point to Reed as the culprit. The jury agreed and, given that information, Reed should indeed spend his remaining days behind bars.

But what about the young mother who handed the child over to a complete stranger in the middle of the night? She walked away from the court under a plea agreement and will not spend one day behind bars. She was sentenced to probation for one year and was ordered to undergo counseling. That is wrong.

The mother should have been sentenced to a lengthy prison term for abandoning her child to a stranger. The explanation that she needed to retrieve her purse and shoes is a lame excuse that should not be tolerated in a civil society. There was absolutely no justification for her actions and yet she walks free.

Did the court somehow believe that a counseling session is appropriate punishment for child abandonment that resulted in a death? How could she not bear some of the blame for this tragedy? Had she been guilty of animal cruelty, her punishment would have been more severe. Yet her actions of handing over an infant to stranger merits only a slap on the hand?

Some in our society have a slanted view of justice. Sadly in this case, Harold Reed and young Isaiah Lewis pay the price for the actions of another. It should not be that way.



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