Wednesday, March 22, 2023

NCCPR news and commentary round-up, week ending May 21, 2023

● What happens when the racism of policing joins forces with the racism of family policing?  Read this harrowing account from Tennessee Lookout.  And here’s the latest update.  What was done to this family is so harrowing that the Tennessee family police responded immediately – by seeking to prosecute the family and their lawyers for daring to tell their story!  So remember, if you share the story, like this, for example,  the Tennessee family police agency will be very, very unhappy. 

● The Associated Press tells the heartbreaking story of a family that may have been torn apart because the parents are disabled – and because of Pittsburgh’s notorious child welfare predictive analytics algorithm.  From the story: 

The Hackneys, who have developmental disabilities, are struggling to understand how taking their daughter to the hospital when she refused to eat could be seen as so neglectful that she’d need to be taken from her home. 

They wonder if an artificial intelligence tool that the Allegheny County Department of Human Services uses to predict which children could be at risk of harm singled them out because of their disabilities. 

The U.S. Justice Department is asking the same question. … 

The story also reveals that it isn’t just families who don’t know what’s in the algorithms that can destroy them.  In some places, even the people taking the children don’t know why the algorithm labeled the family high-risk. 

The story discusses this new report from the American Civil Liberties Union.  For anyone who still believes the process of developing these algorithms is a matter of pristine application of science – be sure to check out the “smoking footnote.” 

● An algorithm is only as unbiased as the people who write it.  The co-author of the Allegheny County algorithm, Emily Putnam-Hornstein, has a disturbing track record.  She’s even part of a group that rushed to defend a self-proclaimed “race realist” law professor beloved by Tucker Carlson.  I have a post about it on this blog

Youth Today reports on how, yet again, an in-depth analysis of data debunks all those claims that, in the absence of mandated reporters, COVID-19 would set off a “pandemic of child abuse.”  The authors found that the real lesson is that New York, which takes away children at a lower rate than most places, still is taking away too many. Most notable is who wrote the latest paper: The lawyers who represent children in “child welfare” cases in New York City.  The New York Times also has a story

● And speaking of mandatory reporting:  I took the new, improved mandatory reporter training course that New York State just started using.  It’s significantly less awful than anything else I’ve seen but still has serious problems.  I wrote about it for Youth Today. 

● At SXSW, Roxanna Asgarian moderated a panel that included Prof. Dorothy Roberts, Author of Torn Apart: How the Child Welfare System Destroys Black Families--and How Abolition Can Build a Safer World, Nancy Marie Spears of The Imprint and Lexi McMenamin of Teen Vogue.  Here’s the audio. 

● Thanks largely to excellent reporting by NPR and The Marshall Project, states are beginning to stop, or at least curb, the practice of family police agencies swiping foster youth’s Social Security disability and survivor benefits.  (Yes, they really do that.) The Imprint has a round-up of legislative changes

● And in Texas, The Imprint reports, proposed legislation would curb “hidden foster care” – starting with a requirement that the state report how many such children are taken that way.