Police Need Warrants to Search Homes. Child Welfare Agents Almost Never Get One.
By law, ACS caseworkers are not allowed to enter and search a home without either permission to enter or an entry order, which is the legal equivalent of a search warrant, unless a child is in imminent danger. But many parents don’t know that they have the right to deny these government agents or don’t push back for fear of losing their children, according to parents and their advocates. And caseworkers frequently say things that are coercive and manipulative in order to get inside homes without going to a judge.
Less than 4% of the agency’s more than 56,000 cases each year end up revealing a safety situation requiring the removal of a child from a home, according to data provided by an ACS spokesperson.
Rather than being saved from harm, most children are forced to watch as their moms and dads are “humiliated, rendered powerless and turned into second-class citizens in their own homes,” said David Shalleck-Klein, founder and executive director of the Family Justice Law Center, a newly formed civil rights organization that is considering filing a rare class-action lawsuit challenging such searches as unconstitutional.
Black and Hispanic children are disproportionately the ones going through this, accounting for at least 83 percent of children in ACS cases last year, agency data shows.
In recent years, parent advocates in New York — as well as Texas and other places — have pushed to require that caseworkers read people their rights like police do.
Proponents say that borrowing the Miranda concept from the police would make it clearer that child welfare workers are playing a similar role.
View the full article here.
BDS Testimony before New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice regarding Drugs in the New York City JailsThe best way for the city to prevent drug use, overdose, and death in its jails is to stop sending people to Rikers Island and focus on diverting them from the criminal legal system altogether. Letters & TestimoniesBail & Pre-Trial Incarceration
Unprotected: An inside look at NYC’s Administration for Children’s Services searchesIn an NBC News-ProPublica investigation, Kate Snow takes a deep dive into New York City’s Administration for Children’s Services searches. She spoke with one mother, Shalonda Curtis-Hackett, who explains why she felt she “couldn’t say no” when a caseworker came to search her house.In The NewsEarly Defense for Parents Facing ACS Investigations
Joint Defender Testimony Before New York City Council Committee on General Welfare regarding Screening Process and Eligibility Requirements for Foster ParentsWe see everyday how low income Black and Latine parents are unfairly treated by the child welfare and foster systems - which we more accurately describe as the family regulation system - and urge the City Council to consider ways to reduce the city’s reliance on foster placements and invest in strengthening families so that children can remain home, in their communities and schoolsLetters & TestimoniesEarly Defense for Parents Facing ACS Investigations
Communication Issues at NY Jail After Transfer Of ICE DetaineesThe day after dozens were transferred out of OCCF this summer, some of the remaining detainees were relocated to other cells within the jail, and about 20 were moved to a section known as the Delta 1 unit, where both lawyers and their clients have reported communications problems and difficulties in making calls to advance their immigration cases.In The NewsImmigration Raids & Detention
BDS Testimony before the New York City Council Committee on Public Safety regarding Community Problem-Solving CourtsOur experience has shown that these courts can provide non-jail alternatives for those wrapped up in the criminal justice system because of substance use disorders and serious mental illness. However, more access is needed for these courts, and the city can help by increasing funding for more programs, more providers, and more beds.Letters & TestimoniesBail & Pre-Trial Incarceration
Mental health care on Rikers: New York’s largest psychiatric provider“For the people that have to be escorted down to get their medications, things like alarms, things like insufficient DOC escorts, will hinder that availability of medications,” said S. Lucas Marquez, associate director of civil rights and law reform at Brooklyn Defender Services.In The NewsBail & Pre-Trial Incarceration
BDS Testimony before the New York City Council Committee on Criminal Justice regarding Banning Solitary Confinement in New York City JailsThe people we represent—along with their families, friends, and advocates—are all impacted by the serious trauma caused by DOC’s restrictive housing practices.Letters & TestimoniesBail & Pre-Trial Incarceration
Advocates raise concerns about NYPD’s enhanced use of pedestrian stops to tamp down on guns“The encounters become very aggressive and then you have people getting charged with resisting arrest or obstructing governmental administration,” said Yung-Mi Lee, an attorney with Brooklyn Defender Services.In The NewsPolice Accountability
Bill to Require Mental Health Staff at Family Shelters Spurs Worry Over ‘Unintended Effects’“We’re concerned that introducing mental health professionals who are mandated reporters directly into family shelters, which are people’s homes, will inadvertently increase surveillance of families" Alexandra Dougherty of Brooklyn Defenders said.In The NewsEarly Defense for Parents Facing ACS Investigations
Brooklyn Defender Services Statement on Kevin Bryan, the 14th Person to Die in NYC Jails in 2022We are absolutely devastated by the death of Kevin Bryan who died on Wednesday after seven days of incarceration in a Rikers Island jail. We grieve with his family, friends, and all who are affected by his death.Press ReleasesBail & Pre-Trial Incarceration