"There's a bit of magic in everything, and some loss to even things out." -Lou Reed

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Don't Get Me Started

(photo of Nixzmary Brown, just 7 years old when she died at the hands of her stepfather)

I get CNN news alerts in my inbox, and while there are so many troubling things going on in the world, I am constantly amazed and troubled by the cases of severe child abuse, neglect, and death in the news. How many times does this have to happen before we learn our lessons? Why isn't the world, or at least our nation, stopping, gasping, and addressing this?
I am afraid because we think the all too many, but only dozens of severe cases we see in the news in our little corners of the world are the only ones that are happening. I was a Guardian ad Litem while I was in college, and I quickly learned that the number of these cases--that rival the Susan Smith's and the one listed below--are staggering--and that was in ONE county in NC.
Yes, our social workers are terribly overloaded. YES, they are one source of the problem. But, in my opinion, it is the laws and the sentences that are a main issue. NO ONE gets the sentences they deserve in these cases. There is no fear for parents and stepparents and what they do to their children--who often GET RETURNED to them after multiple abuse situations.
In fact in 1987, there was a terrible case that received national attention (and that has always stayed in my memory). It was the Lisa Steinberg case, and was so terrible and tragic, that New Yorker's vowed NEVER AGAIN. And sadly, all over New York, all over the US, this happens every day. Lisa Steinberg's adoptive father, Joel Steinberg, was released from prison in 2004. Click here for the article about his release. He NEVER should have been.

But, read the article below and tell me how this is not classified as a MURDER case? It wasn't. He was convicted of other things, but a MURDER conviction would have gotten him a Life Sentence, or worse, which is what he deserved. So sad, and unfortunately, so prevalent.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The man convicted in the gruesome death of his 7-year-old stepdaughter has been sentenced to 26 1/3 years in prison.
Cesar Rodriguez was convicted last month of charges including manslaughter in Nixzmary Brown's January 2006 death. The stepfather was acquitted of murder.
Rodriguez stood up in court, his head shaven at this point, and told the judge, "I am sorry for causing any emotional pain."
"I love Nixzmary and I am accused of something that I did not do," he went on to say. "But I will do my sentence."
Rodriguez admitted he had abused Nixzmary, but denied killing her.
At Rodriguez' trial, prosecutors said the 36-pound girl had been bound to a chair, starved and forced to urinate in a litter box. Social workers had been alerted but found no conclusive evidence of abuse.
Prosecutors had asked for consecutive sentences, which would have totaled 29 years. But they were bunched together, meaning the total is 26 1/3 years.
At one point, the prosector also relayed a story. She said that Nixzmary's brother, Javier, when told of his stepfather's conviction, said, "I hope that he is frail and weak when he gets out of prison so that he can't hurt any other children."
Defense attorneys argue that if anyone is guilty of this crime, it is the mother. She faces a murder trial later this year.
They were looking for a minimum sentence of only 15 years.
(Copyright ©2008 WABC-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)



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