Typical Government Response

I’ve been following Michelle Malkin’s posts on Haliegh Poutre. And it turns out that Haleigh is now, at least occassionally, eating solid foods.

A nurse told the mother of Haleigh Poutre during a hospital visit on Tuesday that the severely beaten Westfield girl, whom officials once wanted to let die, has been able to eat scrambled eggs and cream of wheat, and has tapped out drum rhythms during physical therapy, according to the mother’s lawyer.

But it is unclear when Poutre began eating solid food, and how often she does so.

But what really stuck out for me in this ongoing story is the ineptitude and insidious nature of government. From the above story, the second paragraph goes on to claim the following,

A Department of Social Services worker, who was monitoring the 15-minute visit, has told the nurse to stop talking to the mother about the girl’s condition, said Wendy Murphy, a Boston lawyer who represents Allison Avrett, who is Poutre’s biological mother.

”Silence and secrecy has been the most frustrating component of this case,” Murphy said yesterday. ”It just seems inhumane that information about this child can be forbidden on the theory that it’s somehow protecting her privacy, when you consider that this child almost died under the state’s care.”

What makes this truly despicable, in my view, is that a recent report notes that the part of the reason that Haleigh is in the condition she is, is due to a “systemic failure” of the state to protect Haleigh from her abusers.

BOSTON – In a scathing review of how the state cares for children in its custody, a special commission yesterday found that Haleigh Poutre was let down by “a systemic failure” on the part of the state and private health providers.

Haleigh, 12, was admitted to a Springfield hospital in September in a comatose state after being abused.

The state Department of Social Services has acknowledged overlooking signs of past abuse, largely because medical professionals and staff believed it was self-inflicted.

A three-member commission, appointed by Gov. W. Mitt Romney on Jan. 27, reported its findings yesterday on the state agency’s involvement with Poutre during the past seven years.

“What happened to Haleigh Poutre … should not have happened and did not have to happen,” the commission’s report said. “There are unquestionably things that the Department of Social Services can do and needs to do to improve its ability to identify and protect high-risk children. At the same time, this case represents a systemic failure on all levels, public and private, to provide … the safety net that our children deserve.”

A short summary of the state’s role in this matter was blind incompetence and stupidity followed up by an overly-zealous response once the damage has been done. Lets face it, parents who engage in this kind of behavior find themselves sitting in a jail cell. What is going to happen to the people at the Massachusetts Department of Social Services? Nothing.

Of course, Gov. W. Mitt Romney is also part of the problem. Instead of doing something like firing the head of the DSS he sets up a panel and does precisely nothing afterwards save issue this kind of bland statement,

“As the Haleigh Poutre case demonstrates, errors in human judgment occur,” Romney said in a statement. “What is unusual is how many people involved in Haleigh’s care … made errors. I welcome new systems and processes that will identify and guard against circumstances where human error may have severe consequences.”

On top of this, the agency responsible for Haleigh’s care in Mitt Romney’s government decided that after 8 days in a hospital the Haleigh should be removed from life support. Yep, errors in human judgement.

The whole thing makes me sick.


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Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.