Montgomery County’s Response to Free-Range Parenting

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Every time I see Montgomery County MD. getting attention for its involvement in “Free-Range Parenting,” I am stunned. I am a former child abuse investigator of many years for another MD. county. I spent time looking into a father’s abuse of his young children which took place in Montgomery County. I then consulted with my own supervisors who urged me to report it to Montgomery County. I did. Let me tell you what Montgomery County did in this serious situation involving severe child abuse. I list below what happened.
1. They blew off all the statutory time limits. The 24 hour mandate to take some action and form a safety plan took over two months and more than one phone call to the unit from Montgomery County politicians.
2. Against all accepted protocol, the father was notified of my report over a month before he brought the children for an interview.
3. In spite of the time the children spent with the father who knew of the report and the time that elapsed before they were finally interviewed by the Montgomery County child abuse worker whose name I can never forget, they still disclosed severe abuse.
4. I saw the transcript which was written by a Montgomery County police officer. I also cannot forget that this child abuse worker allowed the father to send in the older child to speak to the younger child during the younger child’s interview. After hearing from the older sibling, the younger child stated, “Dad beats us when we tell.”
5. Adding to my shock was the testimony given by this child abuse worker a few weeks after the children’s interview. She testified that the children did not disclose any abuse.
The amount of effort Montgomery County is devoting to Free-Range Parenting far exceeds the puny effort they made to protect the children on whose behalf I reported abuse. Was it because the abuse occurred in a divorce? Are complaints against a father taken less seriously by Montgomery County? The answer to both these questions is probably yes and the children I tried to help continued to suffer abuse for many years while Montgomery County directs its so called protective efforts to an insubstantial and easy tangent. We started a website for the long suffering mother of these children. www.justice4elsanewman.com
Margaret Candler

A Moving Gallery

The Moving Gallery is an amazing creation which brought much joy to the prison and the women who participated.
This Portrait Garden; a Moving Gallery, which debuted on December 1, is a series of audio and photographic portraits of eleven women incarcerated at Maryland Correctional Institute for Women in Jessup, MD. The project culminates a 1-1/2 year long collaboration between the artist and the inmates to create perennial gardens on the prison grounds. The final “portraits” are of plants that were cultivated by the inmates, and which are displayed as a series of 100 posters in trains within the Baltimore Light Rail system during the month of December.

GBCA is thrilled to share first pictures of 2014 Media Arts Rubys grantee Lynn Cazabon’s project Portrait Garden as they appear on the Baltimore Light Rail system.

This public dissemination is conceived as a moving gallery designed to bring the women metaphorically into the community of Baltimore City.
Read the full project press release here.
Learn more about Lynn here.
See some of the portraits and hear some of the project’s inmate interviews here.
Listen to an interview with Elsa by going to this website!
You can hear the whole interview with Elsa and some of the other participants here

http://www.justice4elsanewman.com/

Contributed by Melissa Barnett January 25, 2015

Tagged Domestic Violence Divorces, Elsa Newman, Family Courts, Justice, Mothers of Lost Children | 1 Comment |

Pretrial Media Blitz

Hearing Gansler’s comments during this campaign, I am reminded of his pretrial comments against Elsa Newman. A four inch stack represented all the negative press from Gansler which was carried coast to coast. Every TV station featured Gansler describing the stereotypic harridan of a woman. Unlike the candidates now, Elsa had no way to confront the lies. She couldn’t answer back. She was in the state’s custody for the first time in her life. She had not planned the crime. She had not planned anything around the crime. She struggled to deal with the shock of her arrest. She didn’t know what had happened. She was not offered bail. She endured 9 search warrants of her home, car, telephone, and computer. Nothing incriminating was found but Elsa’s property was in a shambles.

With no media access, Elsa was helpless. She was called crazy and stereotyped as a soccer mom who tried to murder her husband in a contested divorce. No mention of the protective orders she had against her ex. No mention of the years she spent in court trying to protect her young children from abuse by their father. Who knew she was an excellent mom, warm, friendly, peaceable, law-abiding and generous with her time? She was a lawyer with experience at all levels, municipal, state and federal. Elsa believed in the justice of our legal system.

When the conviction was thrown out and the court ruled no evidence connected her to a crime because they also threw out the ludicrous nonsense which one of her divorce lawyers made up, Gansler renewed his smear campaign. Although he was censured in three other cases for smearing defendants pretrial, he continued that pattern here.

Elsa faced a retrial and Gansler’s deputy, Kay Winfree lied. It’s not easy to prove innocence when you can’t introduce supporting evidence.

Elsa met all the criteria for parole four years ago but the hearing kept being delayed. Finally there was a hearing that didn’t follow the rules either. Again Gansler and Winfree used their governmental position to block Elsa’s parole. This entire case is so massively unfair, I struggle with what I can do to help. No matter what I do, the state, that is Winfree and Gansler, hold all the cards. It’s wrong to recklessly prosecute without evidence, but using your authority to get away with it is not how I view American justice. American justice should mean an equal chance, a fair chance, a level playing field. Gansler and his staff will not allow that. They brought a stupid case and they will do whatever they can get away with to make it stick and deny Elsa her liberty and her good name.

 

I March for Elsa Newman

 

elsa newman at the whitehouse

Mothers of Lost Children are returning to Washington DC for our 5th year of protests, vigils and march’s.  Margaret Candler is devoted to the Free Elsa Newman an innocent mother campaign

Margaret Candler, Maryland, USA

Why I March,

When I carry my sign to Free Elsa Newman on the DC Metro, people often ask me about it. No one can understand that good moms are OFTEN trashed when they mention child abuse in family court, Everyone believes that American courts ALWAYS give custody to good moms. May that time come! Annually family courts place 58,000 children in the unsupervised care of their abusers (The Leadership Council.) Sign if you haven’t and spread the word: www.justice4elsanewman.com

Elsa Newman is and innocent mother who has been falsely accused of a crime she did not commit. Elsa has served 12 years of a 20 year sentence and was denied parol in January 2013 Free Elsa http://www.thepetitionsite.com/5/Free-Elsa-Newman/

You will find the story of Elsa Newman and a petition on the site please sign and share, help us free and innocent mother.

 

Repost from Mothers of Lost Childrenhttp://mothersoflostchildren.org/2014/04/i-march-for-elsa-newman/

Help us send a mother to Washington DC

 

No Need to Apologize

Mail is a highlight of the prisoner’s time. Letters about my friends’ happy times please me most. An eldest child is in school in London determining which area of medicine for specialization. They sail into Alaska, ride camels in the Moroccan sands, cruise to Gibralter, visit temples in Laos, climb pueblos in New Mexico, and I am suffused with open air and sunlight. Why do my friends apologize as they present their stories?

These letters transport me from a dismal, lumpy bunk where I am only in plain view of another’s personal hygiene and hearing only another’s problems. I am but a source of stuff until I look down at my letter. Well-written sentences bridge the pages of honest-to-goodness stationery. Words spiral and intertwine to give form to the tapestry of a story. I see my friends waving me from a ship slicing through space. Beyond banks of glaciers are mountain peaks. I watch a little grandson engrossed in movement classes, looking so like my sons did. Holding a letter in my hands, I am away. It bothers my friends to write of good times, but it uplifts me. They have good times, and they still stop to write me. Apologize for a decent life with happy moments! No need. You write the truth of your joy, and I rejoice in that. I can remember, too.

I send you my regrets if my pain dampens your enthusiasm for sharing joy with me. To think of a prisoner in the midst of a comfortable life takes some courage.

Elsa Newman

A Change is Gonna Come….. is it?

Winds of change swept thru the prison yesterday, and the bitter cold gave way. It is warmer today. I am looking to see if anything else might be changed. I do that, look for change. The smallest change is like a crocus blooming at the first hint of spring. A spirited surge of purple or white on a canvas of dull, frozen earth. There is no scientific approach to my search. There are no tests. I do not actually search. It’s an intuitive thing, being alert to the possibility of something. When I walk to breakfast in the predawn dark, I look up. Is the sky that devastating midnight blue, or is it devoid of color? Are there stars? Does the moon shine or is it a blurred blotch? During the day, when I have found the moon rising almost next to me as I hurry along a concrete path, it seems a friendly omen. Are there potential harbingers of what I might expect next similar to the ones you are comfortable with, like advanced education and observance of rules? When I look at another low brick building in the dusk, and the lights on that building go on at the moment I am looking, is it a light for me?
When winds blow, the poetry of a moving column of air clearing out dust and decay comes to mind. A little spark of hope is not easily extinguished. Of course, throughout the day today, I encountered hazardous materials, so to speak, but I saw the lights go on, too.
Elsa Newman

A Change is Gonna Come…… is it?

A Change is Gonna Come…..is it?

Winds of change swept thru the prison yesterday, and the bitter cold gave way. It is warmer today. I am looking to see if anything else might be changed. I do that, look for change. The smallest change is like a crocus blooming at the first hint of spring. A spirited surge of purple or white on a canvas of dull, frozen earth. There is no scientific approach to my search. There are no tests. I do not actually search. It’s an intuitive thing, being alert to the possibility of something. When I walk to breakfast in the predawn dark, I look up. Is the sky that devastating midnight blue, or is it devoid of color? Are there stars? Does the moon shine or is it a blurred blotch? During the day, when I have found the moon rising almost next to me as I hurry along a concrete path, it seems a friendly omen. Are there potential harbingers of what I might expect next similar to the ones you are comfortable with, like advanced education and observance of rules? When I look at another low brick building in the dusk, and the lights on that building go on at the moment I am looking, is it a light for me?

When winds blow, the poetry of a moving column of air clearing out dust and decay comes to mind. A little spark of hope is not easily extinguished. Of course, throughout the day today, I encountered hazardous materials, so to speak, but I saw the lights go on, too.

Elsa Newman

For the Season

In the spirit of the season, I try to pin some dignity to my suffering by swallowing an accompanying disgruntled feeling hovering much of the time. I could complain. Sometimes, I think prisoners complain too much. Sometimes, I think they do not complain enough. There’s a difference for me, at least, between complaining about the food and complaining about aspects of the confinement that are so hard to endure.
This is not to say I rise above complaining. There’s no more toast at breakfast since a rotating toaster stopped rotating a while back. I miss toast. I believe I can recite by heart the complete menu cycle. I miss variety. By and large, however, I can take the food as sustenance and forget how I followed restaurant reviews and knew the purpose of the CIA in Tarrytown, NY. Maybe I better spell that: Culinary Institute of American.
I will still watch a cooking show and find myself cropping recipes. I keep them in too large an envelope. It must be a coping mechanism –as I can’t get past running meal plans in my head for the children’s dinners, lunches, breakfasts and snacks. Realistically, I am relegated to planning a meal I’ll make when I see them. Rolled cabbage or soup for an appetizer? Do they still like the stuff they used to love?
One of the darker aspects of prison life is that one’s ability to know anything to a probable degree, let alone a certainty, is shockingly diminished. The internet is verboten. Newspapers arrive late. There is so much inherent misery in prison and so little connectiveness to current events in prison that the walls, barbed wire, watch towers and guards become constant reminders of how much is missing over and above their role as gatekeepers. I was a litigator able to construct with mathematical precision the what and when of a court decision. Yet, I can no longer fathom what the court is doing in my situation. There is no formula for me. The thorough preparation I did for court—all the research, synthesis, exquisite knowledge of the facts, rigorous understanding of how to explain the case—that was the criteria for victory. As far as I can tell, these are not criteria any longer. When the gate closed on my innocent back, the certainties of my life were gone.
I could feel quite maligned. It’s a feeling that could quickly infiltrate everything when nothing is as it should be. That is the greatest certainty in prison: institutionalized unease. In the spirit of the season, I remember a woman of green eyes who knew how to cook, sew, write letters of surpassing power, clean, garden, retain a stubborn allegiance to justice and sing. She was my mother. “Elsa,” she said, “smile anyway.”
I limit myself to one complaint. I want the number where my mother is now. Two complaints: Must every call I make be introduced by a tediously long message suggesting the called party opt out from ever hearing from me again by pressing one button?
Elsa Newman

November 18

November 18, 2013
Separating my emotions from my thoughts about where I am requires patient discipline. Meditation suggests one recognize the arrant thought and let it dissolve. I suspect many mothers who dote on their children cannot untangle their love and coldly assess what to do when you are in prison and your children are not where they should be. For me the process of drawing understanding and meaning from chaos is supported in religious texts. There are a number of Biblical stories about separated families. There are Biblical figures who have endured inexplicable hardship. You can hear this stuff when you are a child and find it engrossing, but when it actually happens to you, there is a solace in knowing way back when people like you had it happen to them. And it’s not only these stories, it’s the protocol of prayer that leaves room for feelings and questions. I am challenged to find happiness in this moment, retain hope and hold gratitude, ideas that might not manifest themselves if I did not enlist religion as a companion. I’m glad I had a chance to voice this to Marc at the Baltimore Jewish Times.

http://jewishtimes.com/judaism-behind-bars/#UmpythBwrto

Elsa Newman