The facts are there for anyone who cares to view them. By the government’s own numbers, the rate of child assault, rape, starvation, and murder is far higher among children in state “care” than it is in the general population. The exposés done by respected newspapers about the predatory and corrupt CPS system have been numerous and well documented. Troy Anderson, then of the LA Daily News, did an amazing series of articles a few years ago that affected me deeply and proved an invaluable resource for an essay I did on the subject for the book Under The Influence: The Disinformation Guide To Drugs.
It was journalists that broke the story of foster children being used in medical experiments, with those from the New York Post, the Associated Press, the Village Voice and several more dragging this story out of the secrecy and corruption in which child protective services operates and into the light of international attention, no doubt saving lives. The Miami Herald and the Denver Post join the ranks of media outlets to devote investigative journalism to the rampant corruption and abuses of power in the CPS system and the parasitic industries that profit from its captive ‘clients’.
These captive ‘clients’ typically come from an all too predictable source – those that are poor and without the resources to fight a system that is terrifying and powerful, one that finds it all too easy to ignore and hide their pleas against the injustice of taking away the only thing of real value and joy that they have, their children. Single mothers, the poor, families of color – these are the favored targets. Certainly there are terrible cases of child abuse and neglect, nobody could deny that. However, a peek into the government’s own numbers shows clearly that the vast majority of children are removed from their parents due to poverty-based neglect. Less than 20 percent of children removed from their parents are taken away due to physical violence or sexual abuse.
We’ve all heard the CPS horror stories of Gestapo-esque persecution of innocent families. How do such things occur in a nation such as our own, in which our founding documents express the deepest respect for liberty? They continue to happen because we now tolerate a system in which we receive the best justice money can buy. A poor person can’t, unless they are very fortunately blessed with quality pro bono, fight a constitutional issue. Most public defenders are overworked and exhausted, a poor compromise is the best a poor person can hope for. At worst, they lose their child to the system, something the wealthy almost never face. However, if we all stand up and demand justice, that our basic rights be respected, we can change this. We should change this, because it can happen to anybody. In fact, it is happening to me right now.
I’m hoping that you will read the letter below, which I am sending to every local, state, and federal official that may be able to assist me. Some, such as Governor Perry’s office did assist in part one of this story. I have included the e-mail addresses of the people involved in this situation. I hope that you will take a couple minutes of your time to respectfully request that they adhere to the highest laws of the land and respect the Fourth Amendment of our Constitution as they are directed to do by the highest courts of the nation.
This is the letter, regarding a situation that was set in motion by a malicious reporter making a deliberately false report, which, if you have the money to pay a lawyer to handle the court process required for CPS to release the information, is a felony offence in my state:
First, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to read and consider my e-mail, as well as thank you in advance for any assistance you may be willing to provide in this matter.
My name is Sharon Secor. I am a single parent of three girls and a full-time freelance writer, working from home. I am a homeschooling mother, living in one of the most beautiful parts of Texas, the high plains of the Chihuahuan Desert, located in Brewster County, in the Big Bend region.
I write to you today regarding what I consider to be a serious problem with the local child protection division of the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, and I do so in all confidence that I can count on your assistance, recognizing that the state of Texas is among the foremost in the nation when it comes to respecting the principles, rights, and laws this nation was founded upon.
I realize that you hear from many people, so I don’t expect that you would recall that my sister, Melinda Secor, contacted you last year in regard to this matter. Thanks, in part, to the inquiries and other assistance provided by your office, the false allegations against myself and my sister regarding our children were quickly laid to rest. I have a letter, in its original envelope, dated 4/17/2009, and signed by DFPS caseworker Anthony Ramos indicating that their investigation was over and that there was no finding of abuse or neglect.
However, despite the letter, it seems as though Anthony Ramos, currently named in a class action law suit on behalf of Terlingua Ranch residents for multiple instances of abuse of power and intimidation, and case worker Azucena Carrasco, are unwilling to accept the determination made by their agency. They are currently demanding that I present my children for their inspection.
The two caseworkers mentioned, Carrasco and Ramos, although they travel to my area together in one vehicle, cannot seem to agree on exactly why it is that I should present my children for inspection. Carrasco has told my sister, Melinda Secor, on two separate occasions that there is no new investigation and that this is merely a formality as they have never seen or interviewed myself or my children. I was not living in Brewster County when this in absentia investigation took place, which makes the whole matter, to my mind, even more bizarre. Ramos has told my brother, David Secor, that there are new allegations and a new investigation, but has yet to provide any formal documentation or statement whatsoever.
The highest courts in the nation have affirmed that the protections of the Fourth Amendment do extend to child abuse investigations, with one notable case being Calabretta vs. Floyd. Furthermore, that each of my children has her own Fourth Amendment protections has been affirmed. I find it completely unreasonable that, if the story Carrasco tells is true, nearly a year after their agency has stated that their investigation is over and no finding of neglect or abuse was made, I am ordered to allow the inspection of my children. If the story Ramos is telling is the true position of DFPS, then why have Carrasco engage in deceptive practices, rather than offer formal documentation of any allegations? Such behavior fails to demonstrate good faith and it does not foster the belief that matters will be handled in a forthright and fair manner by these caseworkers.
Because of such cases as Calabretta vs. Floyd, and the myriad of other cases that have helped to establish a firm foundation of legal precedent, those supervising child protective caseworkers are obligated to ensure that these workers understand the Fourth Amendment and how it applies to child neglect and abuse investigations. In fact, the Texas Department of Family Protective Services Child Protective Services Handbook – their own guidelines – address this topic in Section 1200, Legal Base For Child Protective Services, sub-section 1230, titled Constitutional Protections.
However, Section 2200, Investigation and Assessment, sub-section 2224.32 lists the factors to be used in finding a family uncooperative, with almost each and every one of those factors relating to a family asserting its Fourth Amendment protections, including, according to the document, “refusing to give the worker access to the home, the alleged victim, or the siblings; refusing to give the worker an interview with the alleged victim or the victim’s siblings, or concealing the alleged victim.” That is distinctly in contradiction to what has been established as binding legal precedent by the highest courts in the nation. The penalty for such action is being charged with a Class B misdemeanor.
It defies logic that one is threatened with criminal prosecution for exercising the rights – rights, not privileges – affirmed by our highest courts and guaranteed by the United States Constitution, as well as by the Constitution of Texas. In fact, the same protections clearly stated by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution are present in Section 9 of the Texas Bill of Rights, preventing “all unreasonable seizures or searches, and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue without describing them as near as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation.”
Furthermore, according to Section 29 of the Texas Bill of Rights, “PROVISIONS OF BILL OF RIGHTS EXCEPTED FROM POWERS OF GOVERNMENT; TO FOREVER REMAIN INVIOLATE. To guard against transgressions of the high powers herein delegated, we declare that everything in this "Bill of Rights" is excepted out of the general powers of government, and shall forever remain inviolate, and all laws contrary thereto, or to the following provisions, shall be void.”
It seems to be a simple and clear cut matter to me. I firmly believe that our local DFPS case workers, Anthony Ramos and Azucena Carrasco are routinely ignoring their legally codified obligations to respect the Fourth Amendment protections detailed in the US Constitution and similar protections specified in the Texas Bill of Rights. I also firmly believe that, as a citizen, it is my duty and obligation to insist that these essential protections are respected, not just for myself and my children, but for all of us. I hope that I can count on your assistance and shall look forward to hearing from you regarding this matter.
Here are the e-mail addresses, in case you, too, would like to remind them of their obligation to the Fourth Amendment: