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
20 thoughts on “Homeless Mom Charged With Felonies After Lying About Her Address To Get Her Son In Suburban Kindergarten”
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1, April 29, 2011 at 10:22 am
Well Professor, this is just another indication of our witless national trend toward not merely criminalizing but hyper-criminalizing all conduct.
I believe you meant to say all conduct by poor people.
There is a great deal of legal real estate in between those polar extremes.
if you have the money for an attorney, then there is a lot of ground to cover
if you’re living in a van then you’re a piece of shit, bad mother, lying ass perp, who gets everything that’s coming to you.
and you enjoyed the body cavity search
Amen to all those who condemn the prosecution of the mother.throw out the DA who made this charging decision. W e are a mean, nasty, heartless people–or the prosecutors are those things. Shame. Shame!
Law & Order ?:
“NY inmate separates guards fighting over food
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Talk about a role-reversal: Two New York jail guards are in trouble after an inmate stepped in to break up their fight over food.
Erie County Undersheriff Mark Wipperman says both corrections officers are suspended with pay after what he calls an “embarrassment.”
The inmate required medical attention but Wipperman says privacy laws prevent him from disclosing his injuries. He says the inmate got between the unarmed guards because he didn’t want either to get fired.
He wouldn’t confirm a Buffalo News report that the April 21 bout started over a bag of chips. It happened at Erie County Correctional Facility in a dorm-like building.
Wipperman identified the officers as Lawrence Mule, a 26-year veteran, and James Conlin, who was hired 29 years ago. A message with the officers’ union wasn’t immediately returned.
So why aren’ t all the illegal mexicans facing 20 years for putting their 10 kids in schools?
The homeless woman dared to dream the American Dream for her child. Who in the hell does she think she is?! Stuff her in a cell and let’s get on with making more gold-encrusted toilets for wealthy, suburban shitheads. I mean, really now, that little 5 year old might have actually brushed up against a privileged child’s arm … awful, awful, damn awful. Thank god Donna Lattarulo was on the job!
“Don’t you clowns have something better to do with your time? ”
Sadly, they don’t. The below sentence from the NYT’s article sums the problem with education in CT nicely:
“Connecticut, with its patchwork of poor cities and wealthy suburbs, has the largest achievement gap between black and white students of any state in the country.”
I can completely understand why this woman would want to send her son to school in Norwalk as opposed to Bridgeport – Bridgeport is not only the largest city in the state, but in the top three in terms of being economically depressed.
Sadly not the first time.
Until our education system improves this will be a regular occurrence, just like no-knock dog killing raids at the wrong address.
The article linked in the Professors posting makes it very clear that that the quality of schools is far different between the city and the more affluent suburbs. Any kid anywhere in the country should be able to leave school on a Tuesday and on Wednesday morning, having traveled to any other school in any other school district in the country , go to school and not miss a beat: same curriculum, same quality of teacher, same resources for learning. It should be a human right and is IMO, a matter of national security.
What kind of school system could the money we have wasted on the wars and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations over the last 10 years have bought? This woman, whatever her situation, and the other parents similarly charged as the article alludes to, are fighting the class war with guerilla tactics, and is being treated like any other insurrectionist against a fundamentally corrupt government would be. She was responding appropriately to her government’s theft of her child’s potential for a gainful future.
I am absolutely stunned that prosecutors anywhere would consider what this mom did, for her son, a crime!! Is there no compassion left south of the boarder?
“Les Misérables–coming to our country soon!”
I fear it’s been here for some time now. The zeal and glee with the the “haves” and “wannabe haves” exhibit it attacking perceived “have nots” is disgusting and inhumane. In a society where the scions of the well-to-do compete to get into nursery school, what can we expect? This woman, without money, was trying to do the best she could for her child and that is to be commended rather than punished.
Les Misérables–coming to our country soon! Watch for excerpts from it on the news.
Who was harmed by the lie?
Donna Lattarulo and the prosecutors in this case are simply heartless classist elitist busybodies. Don’t you clowns have something better to do with your time? I realize it’s Connecticut, but you lot do have actual criminals there too.
This mother deserves a reprimand, but not a felony nor jail time. That prosecutor must have a big budget to so charge a homeless woman. Further, her son will become an economic burden on society. Where is the father?
Compassion and reason are clearly called for.
Give her a lecture, find a place for her to live and a job, and help her become self sufficient. Clearly she wants better for her son. This kind of abusive, over the top prosecution harms her, her son and society.
Who is the DA considering filing such charges? When is he/she up for election?
A similar case of over-charging (for swapping a race bib number in a bicycle race) in Leadville, CO, last year caused a huge public outcry. The shamed DA dropped the charges to misdemeanors.
When prisons are run for profit, of course poverty will be a jailable offense.
Well Professor, this is just another indication of our witless national trend toward not merely criminalizing but hyper-criminalizing all conduct. I suppose the authorities won’t rest until we’re all convicted felons and half of us are in prison at any given time. Common sense appears to be in woefully short supply amongst our friends with prosecutorial power.
…you’ve got that right!
However, we seemed to move pretty quickly from a stern lecture to a felony prosecution. -from the posting
True. And meanwhile, the real American criminals go unpunished, and even thrive, in many cases.
We have some big fish to fry… starting with the likes of Bush and Cheney. (Fish-fry anyone?)
… but back to this particular case… As Jonathan Turley said, this woman “was lying to help her son.” Could we not show a little mercy.
This is just a bit of the things to come for most of middle stream America…
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