She wanted a job. She wanted to be able to support her children and to eventually find a home for her family. Instead, she ended up in jail, her children removed from her, and unlikely to get another interview, much less an actual job, again.
Shanesha Shaine Taylor was arrested in Arizona and charged with child abuse, a felony, after leaving her 2-year-old and 6-month-old sons in her car while she conducted a job interview. The children were believed to have been inside the unlocked car alone for about 30 minutes before police were called to the scene and removed them, and Taylor arrived back about 45 minutes after that. Taylor told police that her hope was the children would sleep through the entire interview, as it was usually their nap time.
There is little doubt that what she did was dangerous. The car was parked in the sun, the engine off and windows only cracked slightly, which was causing the inside of the car to overheat. The interior of the car was nearly 100 degrees, and according to the report a blower was blowing hot air into the car. The children were allegedly crying according to the bystander who called the police, and both were sweating, although a hospital found no medical issues. The doors were unlocked and a key in the ignition, making it easy for the children to potentially be abducted or harmed by an outsider.
There is also little doubt that this was the action of a very desperate woman. It is difficult enough to apply for and get a job interview, much less a job, when you are homeless. As Annie-Rose Strasser writes at Think Progress: ”[T]hey can have difficulty finding an internet connection to apply to job or transportation to get to interviews, clean clothes, or a place to put their belongings. And once they land a job offer, they can run into even more problems, especially if they don’t have things like an ID or birth certificate. It’s a vicious cycle; not having a job perpetuates homelessness, which can in turn make it even harder to find a job.”
Now throw childcare into the mix. A homeless mother is unlikely to have any sort of childcare in the first place, and a job interview isn’t something scheduled weeks or often even days in advance. Without a family member or friend free, it would be a matter of finding a stranger or a drop-in daycare center, both of which would be likely to cost money she doesn’t have available. With no place to live it would be impossible for someone to come over to watch her children even if she could find a person, if that person couldn’t keep the children at their own home.
Even those who arrested Taylor couldn’t help but feel some sympathy for her plight. “She was upset. This is a sad situation all around. She said she was homeless. She needed the job. Obviously not getting the job. So it’s just a sad situation,” Scottsdale Police Sergeant Mark Clark told CBS5 in Arizona.
Sad or not, police have still charged her with a felony, holding her in jail until her trial date of March 31 and keeping her from her children, a move that has incensed activists. “What is the point of putting this woman in jail? To show people like her, who are homeless and desperate to get a job, that they better be able to afford childcare somehow, or else they can go to jail?” writes Femme-esque. “Seems like desperately poor people already know that they don’t have a lot of options.”
Melissa McEwan at Shakesville agrees. “The bootstrappers will argue that she should have found someone to watch her kids. Everyone has someone they can ask to watch their kids. No. Not everyone does. That’s what really having no help from anyone looks like.”
Femm-esque points out a number of real solutions that could help parents like Taylor, from child care subsidies to free pre-K to real social safety net assistance that provides a helping hand for those trying to find work, rather than paint them into a desperate corner.
Taylor will hopefully be released on bail and reunited with her family soon while she waits for her trial. Should she be convicted of a felony, it will be unlikely she will ever find work again, or be able to support her family. All because she was so desperate to interview for a job and no one could help her out for just 90 minutes.
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