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Prof. Matt Fraidin in Pasadena Star-News on Juvenile Dependency Courts

Monday, March 05, 2012   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Max Rodriguez
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Professor Matthew Fraidin is quoted in Pasadena Star-News on opening up juvenile dependency courts.

Professor Fraidin got involved in a few foster care cases and wondered why he didn't know more about foster care.

The kids were getting the short end of the stick in every way," he said. "One of the things I said was I can't believe I didn't know all this stuff is going on. If people knew this was happening, they would stop it."

Opening courts will help children in two ways, he said.

First, it will improve the performance of workers.

"The system actors don't have the benefit of oversight," he said. "They can get sloppy, and they do. They can get nasty, and they do."

Matthew Fraidin

Workers will do a better job if they know a reporter may write an embarrassing story about their failure, he said.

More importantly, however, was the fact that only the most sensational stories ever get published in the media.

Because those stories have a concurrent criminal case in open court, the media seizes on them, he said.

The day-to-day small failures that hurt children are "literally illegal to talk about," he said. "The only stories people know about are the heinous, incredibly rare stories where kids were killed by their parents," he said.

The public never gets to hear about the lazy social worker who takes a month to give a foster parent a child's medical insurance card, he said.

"These secrecy laws prevent the people who know the stories from going out and talking about what they've seen," he said.

Read more in the Pasadena Star-News, "Rare look at children's court finds tension runs high." You can also read more in the Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, "Media Access to Courts Involving Minors Sparks Debate in Los Angeles."

Professor Matthew Fraidin is an associate professor at the UDC David A. Clarke School of Law and a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center. He also co-directs the HIV/AIDS Legal Clinic. Click here to read his full bio.


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