Monday, March 31, 2014

The Face of Poverty: Homeless Jobless Single Mom With Lousy Options Arrested For Being Homeless Jobless Single Mom Who Chose One of Them

Abby Zimet
The awful story of Shanesha Taylor is what's wrong with the state of our union: The mother of two from Scottsdale, Arizona got called to a job interview she urgently needed. With no place to leave her two young kids - no neighbors because she's homeless, no co-workers because she's jobless, no paid childcare because she has no money, no free childcare because our government, which at the same time is trying to restrict birth control so women have to have more kids they don't have the resources to care for - she left them in her car, with the windows cracked, at naptime. 

When she came back from the interview 45 minutes later, someone had called the police, who arrested her, charged her with two child abuse felonies, put her in in Sheriff Joe Arpaio's Maricopa County Jail, and put her kids in state custody. "She was upset," notes a police sergeant, who called it "a sad situation all around." It's also a desperate move by a beleaguered woman facing impossible choices. Leaving small kids alone in a potentially hot car - even strapped into their carseats with the windows cracked - is a terrible idea. Another terrible idea: Arizona cutting 40 percent of its total childcare budget in the past four years, while spending upwards of $1 billion on its prisons, while states all across this fine land likewise, ruthlessly cut budgets for childcare, health care, job training and housing while providing tax cuts to corporations and prisons, thus turning on its head the notion that the task of any civilized society is to care for "the last, the least, the littlest." These skewered policies and priorities have consequences. One of them is named Shanesha Taylor. She reportedly remains in jail, though her family is said to have posted bail, and a local woman has begun a fundraiser to help with legal expenses. So there is good in the world. It's just in the wrong - ie: powerless - places.

"Every day in this country some women are coerced or forced by circumstances into doing things they don’t want to do. For many women, it is the only static condition of their ever changing lives: to regularly feel required to make hard choices among, at times, very poor options.”