Friday, January 14, 2011

System Breakdown = Dead Child

This has me seething...
A Milwaukee mother of seven who let her 7-month-old daughter starve to death in 2006 was sentenced Thursday to a year in jail but could go to prison for five years if she fails to meet conditions of probation.

Melody Cole, 31, was not charged in the case until January 2009 and pleaded guilty in November to neglecting a child, causing death.

Circuit Judge Dennis Cimpl told Cole that while she has no criminal record, she does appear to have an alcohol problem and other issues that have left her unable to care for any of her children, who have been adopted, are in foster care or are living with a relative in Mississippi.

"The child's dead and - there's no way to sugarcoat it Ms. Cole - it's your fault," Cimpl said.

Cimpl sentenced Cole to a year at the House of Correction with no work-release privileges. He ordered her to get a mental health and substance abuse evaluation, maintain strict sobriety and complete 100 hours of community service over the next five years. He allowed her to begin her incarceration in two weeks.

Layunnia Lewis was born April 1, 2006, 14 weeks premature and suffering from herpes. She weighed 4¾ pounds when she was released from the hospital on June 22, and only 5½ pounds when she died Nov. 28, 2006. She had a broken leg, bruises on her head and abrasions on her genitals. The baby's father, who has not been charged, found Layunnia's body beside her mother, who was sleeping on a mattress on the floor of the couple's living room.

Cole told police she had fed the baby earlier that evening. According to the criminal complaint, police found no baby food in the house, just an empty can of infant formula. Although Cole received support from W-2, food stamps and SSI, the infant's father told police the couple spent as much as $500 a month on gambling. She and the child's father spent the day after Layunnia died at Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

Layunnia died even as child welfare workers repeatedly visited the family's filthy, roach-infested home to check on an abused older sibling, according to investigative reports. And though various agencies were attempting to provide Layunnia with medical and safety services, it does not appear welfare workers involved with the older sibling's case were aware of those efforts.
There is SO much wrong with this story that I don’t know where to begin. Let’s take a closer look, shall we? First of all, you have a 31 year old woman who is a mother of 7. And she’s such a model mother that at least some of her kids have been removed from her care. And given the fact that she’s on government assistance, it’s obvious that she can’t afford children. Never mind the fact that she is spending said government assistance on GAMBLING!!!!

This child was born prematurely – but no cause is given. Given that my son was born prematurely for no known reason, I won’t speculate on whether alcohol or drugs could have played a part in this particular premature birth. We don’t know. We do know, however, that the child was born with herpes.

Moving on – when the child was found DEAD from STARVATION, she also had a broken leg, bruises on her head and abrasions on her genitals. I don’t know about you, but to me that indicates significant child abuse. Where are those charges? Was that even investigated?

Oh wait – we had a child welfare worker visiting the “filthy, roach-infested home” to check on an abused older sibling. Wait. What??? So a child welfare worker is visiting this disgusting home because an older child was abused, and never noticed that there was a starving abused infant also residing there?? What’s with that?
"At the heart of the circumstances that impeded the effectiveness of intervention in this child's case is a failure by the agencies involved to share information both within organizations and between organizations," according to a report by the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership Council's Independent Review Panel.
Sorry – that’s no excuse. I cannot fathom how anyone can investigate that home and not see the threat to the children, shared information or not. If there was a worker in the home and noticed the conditions, she had an obligation to report it, to check on it, whatever. This whole nonsense of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing is bullshit. If that’s the case, something needs to be done post haste. Children are dying.

Last but not least, the judge sentenced her to one year in jail. Not prison, jail. Is that the worth of a human life? ONE YEAR??? This woman should be put away for a helluva lot longer than one stinking year. And where was the father in all of this? Was he involved in the abuse? If not, how could he not be aware? Why in HELL wasn’t he charged? An innocent defenseless child is DEAD here folks – where is the accountability?
In a brief, tearful statement to the court Cole said simply, "I love my kids."
Yeah – you “loved” one to death. Bitch.


  1. First of all, you have a 31 year old woman who is a mother of 7.

    You know, that alone isn't a problem. I've known some families with 8, 11, 13 kids where all the kids were loved, fed, cared for, and achieved very well at school. The problem is not the number of kids, the problem is that she had those kids with multiple fathers, instead of one husband dedicated to earning enough money to care for them and help her raise them. And every new pregnancy was another 5 years of WIC...

    Not prison, jail. Is that the worth of a human life? ONE YEAR???

    She killed her own child. The right of a mother to kill their own child is sacrosanct in 21st-century America. It no longer matters if the mother kills before or after birth. If you watch these cases for awhile, you'll notice that mothers never go to prison as long as fathers, boyfriends, or paid caregivers who kill children.

  2. I agree that the number isn't necessarily a problem, but I believe the following sentences clarified why I think that in this particular case, it was relevant.

    As for mothers not getting enough time, I couldn't agree more. I guess they feel "she's suffered enough" I call bullshit. If anything, they should get MORE time - they are supposed to be a child's first defense against harm.

  3. She should have been given 10 yrs straight time in jail.