Tanya McDowell is a homeless mother who is criminally charged for the crime of lying about her address to get her son into a suburban kindergarten in Connecticut. She is now charged with felony larceny and conspiracy after Housing Authority lawyer, Donna Lattarulo, reported McDowell to the police after suspecting that she was using her babysitter’s address to get her son into the kindergarten.
McDowell could now face 20 years in prison if convicted.
She lives in a van, while her 5-year-old son lives with relatives in Bridgeport. I fail to see why this is not a matter of prosecutorial discretion. A mother living in a van wanted to give her son a better education and chance at life. Should she have given a false address? No. However, is this really a matter for the criminal justice system? She was not trying to acquire money by fraud. She was lying to help her son.
Lattarulo insists “[s]omeone was lying. I thought I should pass it on to the authorities.” Would it have been sufficient to raise the lie with McDowell and demand a correction?
Prosecutors insist, in the article below, that many details have proven to be false such as an alleged cavity search or that the child was removed from the school (they say McDowell removed him). However, that still leaves the heavy criminal charges for a such act. I am not saying that being a homeless mother gives you a Jean Valjean exception to the criminal code. However, we seemed to move pretty quickly from a stern lecture to a felony prosecution. There is a great deal of legal real estate in between those polar extremes.
Source; New York Times