Chicago police have charged an area mother after her seven children were found in an abandoned West Side apartment. The 31-year-old single mother has been charged with seven counts of child endangerment. Police were called after someone from the apartment building called to tell them that they heard noises inside an apartment that was supposed to be vacant. Inside, the police found seven children ages 14, 11, 7, 6, 5, 4, and 2. All seven children were brought to the hospital for an examination. Police say the children are in good health.
Neighbors described the woman as “nice” and a “hard worker.” According to the property manager, however, the apartment was supposed to be vacant and the woman and her children were squatting there. When the property manager tried to enter the apartment, he found it blocked off by a 2×4.
The Children Were Found in Squalor
There is not a person alive who could not sympathize with a single mother raising seven children on her own, but those children were found in dangerous conditions and in squalor. According to police, the apartment’s sink was overflowing, the stove’s burners were on, and the children had been using the bathtub as a toilet. Officers also reported that the children had not eaten since the day before.
The Department of Child and Family Services is investigating the incident but has not taken custody of the children.
What Will Happen to the Defendant?
It is hard to say. The state has a vested interest to ensure that American children are raised safely in sanitary conditions, but no one wants to squat in an apartment with seven children if they don’t have to. Therein lies the rub. The defendant will say that she was doing everything she could but simply could not make ends meet despite working. So, she did what she had to do to keep her children alive. Nonetheless, her children were in danger when police found them, and it is clear that she will struggle in raising these children without some other form of financial support. Neighbors are attempting to raise money to help the woman, but being a criminal defendant does not help her plight. There is a strong chance she could lose the job she does have, further worsening the situation for both her and her children.
What is the compassionate thing to do in a situation like this? The defendant should be getting some kind of financial support from the fathers of her children. It does not appear that she is. She may also apply for public assistance even though she is working. Food stamps, section 8 housing, and other entitlements may offer some of the support she needs to raise her children.
If the state chooses to charge her as a criminal, they will be spending all that money on placing the children into foster care and their mother into prison. Regardless of whether or not she should keep her children, she does not deserve to be incarcerated for doing whatever it took to keep them safe.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
Poverty crimes are those that are directly related to food and housing insecurity. The law may not recognize the difference between these crimes and evil intent, but juries do. If you have been charged with a poverty crime, call Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 to learn more about how we can help.