Shanesha Taylor Wins Visitation Rights, Arizona Vows to Fix its Child Welfare System
Shanesha Taylor only wanted a steady job and a home for her children. Instead, Taylor spent 10 days in jail before making bail and her children were removed from her custody because she left them in a hot car during a job interview. Now Taylor is finally getting to be reunited with her children, if only for a little while, as she has finally won limited visitation rights.
Taylor, the homeless mother of an infant and toddler, left the two in a dangerous and life threatening situation when she abandoned them strapped into her car while she conducted a job interview. Taylor said she was unable to find anyone to care for them, and believed that since it was normally their nap time, they would sleep through it, but as the car heated in the sun the children cried and bystanders called the police.
That decision resulted not just in over a week in jail while she tried to make bail, but in her children being taken away from her, including any chance to visit them. Now, at least, she is finally getting back that chance to visitation. According to The AZ Republic, Taylor has been granted supervised visitation while awaiting her trial, after going more than two months without seeing her own children.
“This is a big victory for the defense,” Taylor’s attorney told the AZ Republic. “My client is looking forward to seeing her kids once again.”
Public response to Taylor’s story has resulted in over $100,000 in donations, part of which has now gone to finding the family a safe place to live, and the rest of which Taylor said will go to securing her children’s future. The story has also left many wondering why the police came down so harshly on Taylor, a veteran who was honorably discharged and who was struggling to get herself and her two children back on their feet. Bail was set unusually high, and getting her released once the money had been raised also seemed to have taken longer than usual. Although her children were taken to the hospital and found unharmed, police have refused to drop the felony charges — which ironically could bar her from getting a job in the future — and now this long period of not allowing her to see her children followed.
The reaction from the state is especially alarming in light of allegations of issues in the state’s child welfare agency. According to reports, 6,500 cases of abuse and neglect were closed without any investigation, causing the Arizona legislature to create a new child safety department with more funding and to vow to ensure children are no longer left in dangerous, abusive situations.
With so many cases closed without any oversight or answers, and so many children ignored by the state, what made Taylor’s case so different? Why was a struggling mother who made a wrong decision but was obviously trying to make a better life for her children prosecuted so thoroughly and to the highest extent possible, when so many other cases were completely ignored?
Was the state attempting to make an example of Taylor to make up for its neglect to all the children it had left in danger?
Taylor chose to leave her children unsupervised and alone in her car while she interviewed for a new job, and she put her children’s lives in danger. Now, she’s attempting to put herself and her family into a better circumstance and create a home that will be safe and secure. But she will not be able to do that if the state finds her guilty of a felony. At this point, the biggest threat to the safety of Taylor’s children isn’t Taylor, it’s the prosecution insistent on punishing her for one decision.
Photo credit: Thinkstock