What sort of despicable creature kills their son in cold blood with a hatchet? Only a monster– pure evil that is incomprehensible to the rest of us– could murder their own child.
Monsters exist everywhere. No part of the world escapes heinous acts from the vilest of criminals. The gruesome end to 9 year old Matthew’s life is a tragedy, one that could have happened anywhere, in any region or country. Killer Philip Hernandez could have been a resident of Delaware or Texas or North Dakota, anywhere besides California. Yet as grieving mother Jessica Hernandez will tell you….the state of California does not always act in the best interests of its most vulnerable population.
Cases such as Jessica’s are the extreme, but her allegations [evidence blatantly ignored in the courtroom, denial of basic rights, various forms of discrimination, etc.] echo throughout the state, a common denominator amongst far too many cases. Between Family Court, Child ‘Welfare’ Services, and the foster care system– something is very wrong here.
Jessica Hernandez and her two sons
The undeniable truth: Sacramento courts failed Jessica Hernandez and her son– at the cost of the young boy’s life. A judge chose to disregard crucial information and that irresponsible decision cost a family dearly. She’s not the first judge to do so. Nor will she be the last. To whom are these authority figures judges, social workers, civil servants answering? Other than contesting a verdict via the appeals process, what choice does one have when they know something is wrong? Why must children suffer at the hands of adults supposedly entrusted with their protection?
REFORM AMONGST THE FAMILY LAW COURTS, CWS, AND FOSTER CARE IS IMPERATIVE– THE NEED IS URGENT AND THE TIME IS NOW.
The town's largest employer and primary tourist attraction.
Yesterday found me consumed the last minute preparations of JiLTED‘s mini issue so off went the TV. It’s both ridiculous and shameful how much television I watch…but I’ll save that post for another day. Suffice it to say I require something mindless that enables me to zone out entirely and exert zero brainpower whatsoever. Cable marathons [Law & Order: SVU (although that's my preference I'll never deny a Law & Order), Criminal Minds, NCIS, Ghost Adventures, and especially Lockup] work wonders in my quest to get sucked into the boob tube for hours on end.
As soon as the issue was released it was time for Lockup. I’d even left it on MSNBC so I could flick my remote and jump right into the action. Imagine my surprise when I heard this sentence: “Atascadero State Hospital, the large all-male maximum security for the most violent criminally insane sexual offenders….” Come again? It’s impossible to miss the sign for the hospital and the acreage [the buildings cannot be seen without entering the property] as you can see it from El Camino Real, the main street in Atascadero, but I was completely oblivious to the fact that it was a facility of this nature. And here I am thinking it’s more along the lines of MMHI [Memphis Mental Health Institute]. Apparently it employs 2000+ people on over a thousand acres.
Here’s what their website has to say: “Located on California’s Central Coast, midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Atascadero State Hospital (ASH) is an all-male, maximum security, forensic facility serving the entire state of California. ASH opened in 1954 and is a completely self-contained psychiatric hospital constructed within a security perimeter. ASH has a licensed capacity of 1275 beds, of which 204 are acute/psychiatric and 1071 are intermediate care. All residents at Atascadero State Hospital are male and have a mental disability and pose a threat to others or themselves. The majority are remanded for treatment by the superior courts of the counties of California or by the Department of Corrections pursuant to various sections of the California Penal Code and the Welfare and Institutions Code. Individuals are admitted from state prisons, county jails or are transferred from other state hospitals. The hospital does not accept voluntary admissions.”
While I’m sure this isn’t the most cheerful work or ‘residential’ environment, the more I read about it, the more disgusted I feel. I’m not going to pretend to be an authority on the subject– though I definitely want to ask Brandi [she's lived in this area a long time and used to work in the medical field]– but it sounds like major reform is needed. NPR’s article “Violence Surges At Hospital For Mentally Ill Criminals” explores some of the recent issues with this place.
With infinite love, gratitude, and respect,