> No More Secrets And Lies: Elmore Kid-Jail – September 2008

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Elmore Kid-Jail – September 2008

It wasn't long before Mary got kicked out of Forest Ridge too.

She was only there about two months, but like her other placements, her behavior was more than the staff could handle and required too many of their resources. Mary definitely was not getting better. Things were getting worse for her and it was tragic. This was the opposite of what we had expected for her when we had placed her over a year earlier, and it was the opposite of what we had been promised. This crazy merry-go-round of group homes she was on was not stopping, and I couldn't see that anything was being done to stop it or to help her. All that was being done, it seemed, was to stop any of my efforts to help her. And so Mary was now placed back in Elmore — the extremely punitive kid jail that had a history of abusing children — so she could wait, while the rest of us... well… we had another meeting.

Mary's lawyer and I were pretty clear about what we wanted for Mary at this meeting. I brought her "new" discharge report from Forest Ridge to the meeting (the one where Mary was to go home with both parents), because I wanted to talk about the recommendations the Forest Ridge staff had put in it. I thought it was time we started listening to the staff at the group homes Mary had been in, time we took their recommendations seriously, and time we started listening to the people who worked closely with these children all the time and with Mary every day. We had never discussed the 35-day assessment she got at North Homes, and I was the only one who ever brought a copy of it to our meetings to try to talk about things that were in it.

But the team wasn't interested in any discharge summary that wasn't created solely by them, and they never did mention the fact that the discharge plan they had tried to dictate to Forest Ridge had changed. I took this as an indication it was probably an important topic. But I was no longer going to play their game of ignoring the obvious, and I began the meeting by talking about something I thought was important:

"Instead of recommending that Mary go to her mom's house, and not to her dad's house, as was recommended on a previous version of the Forest Ridge discharge plan…ahem…, Forest Ridge is now recommending that Mary get a neuropsychological exam. They think there is a good chance something is wrong with her that we are missing — possibly something organically wrong with her — and they think we should at least rule this out before we make another placement."

I emphasized the importance of taking their recommendations seriously, because the staff at Forest Ridge had not only worked with Mary more closely than the staff at any other group home she had been in, but had made this recommendation after reviewing everything she had been through as well. I continued…

"I think getting her a neuropsych exam is important, especially now, and I think it's time we did something like this for Mary. I think we owe it to her."

They disagreed. But Mary's lawyer and I were persistent, and we revisited this topic often while Mary was stuck at Elmore. And her workers always shot it down without giving us a reason. There was no one on their side of the team who wanted to do what Forest Ridge was suggesting for Mary. They didn't seem to want to do anything that would benefit Mary, at least if it was suggested by me.

What they did want to do, however, was bring in more people for their side. And so a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) joined the team — another "yes person" for their side. The GAL gave me the required initial interview lasting all of twenty minutes — hardly enough time to get to know anything about me. And yet from that short interview, he was able to tell the judge all kinds of things about me — things he certainly didn't get from me during our interview. I honestly don't think he ever disagreed with anything Mary's corrections officer, social worker, corrections supervisor, or social work supervisor ever said. I know he didn't.

I visited Mary at least once a week while she was at Elmore. I took Grace down to see her once, and both girls were extremely happy to see each other. Mary hadn't seen her sisters more than a handful of times since she had been away from home. The three of us had a great time, considering where we were, and we sat around and talked, and Grace and Mary took turns drawing pictures in my journal. I still have those pictures today.

Mary was understandably very concerned about what was going on with her case and she hadn't been told why she was discharged from Forest Ridge. She was never told why she was discharged from any place for that matter, other than the same old thing — that she wasn't trying hard enough to be good, or worse, that she was actually trying to be bad. I tried, however, to explain to her what I could about her case without telling her what I really knew about it. In other words, I thought I was doing her a favor by not telling her what her workers were doing. But that left me with little more to say to her other than, "We're all trying to do the best we can for you Mary." And then it felt like I was lying to her, because I was.


Anonymous said...

elmore is a fucking hell hole

Anonymous said...

the school there doesnt helpjust a money maker for the state

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