Monday, March 09, 2009

Death By Hyperthermia

I don't know that any description I could write would give this article justice. Here is the tag line:

Forgetting a child in the back seat of a hot, parked car is a horrifying, inexcusable mistake. But is it a crime?



CMS said...

Didn't read the article but in answer to your question - negligence resulting in extreme harm to or death of any living thing is a crime.

Ryan said...

Now read it. I'd be curious to see what you think afterwards.

CMS said...

Ok. I have read it and there are some very heart wrenching stories there. To think that this happens that often is painful to say the least.

But I stand by it's a crime. I'm not saying that the ruling can't use compassion and judgement in the sentencing, but, it's neglect. When people leave pets in a hot car, they are fined and animal rights are on you. When you forget to feed a pet for 2 days and the right people find out, they are on you. I TOTALLY get being distracted and in a hurry, but that is not a free pass for this. The pain to the parent has to be excruciating, but, as true as that pain is, that doesn't change the fact that it is neglect. If I am working 4-6 80 hour weeks and I think that I sent in my taxes when I didn't, tell me someone isn't filing that as the crime of tax evasion. When a child dies, it's horrible, but in this case, it's neglect and it is a crime - willful or not.

That doesn't mean that people can't help the convicted or alter the punishment. And that doesn't mean that others should have less compassion for the event. But it's a crime.

Ryan said...

Damn you read fast.

I'm not sure I can agree with you. As the one prosecutor who did not pursue this as a crime said, "there was no intent".

Additionally, the information about the 'Swiss Cheese Model' regarding stress and memories and the bit about how memories actually get overwritten make it hard for me to accept that something like this can be simply termed a crime.

idream2 said...

Awesome article, although heartbreaking. Very happy that you brought it up!

CMS said...

I hear you, but just don't agree. I had to look up the word crime just to make sure I wasn't once again butchering the English language, but, as I thought, the word crime does not imply intent. Perhaps legally it may.

So, although devastating in such a myriad of ways, and potentially causing a life of mental torture to the one responsible, it is still a crime.

To allow exception here just creates a big loophole - I forgot to feed my child, I forgot to change my grandmothers Depends, I forgot to give the diabetes medication, I forgot to change the fluid in the IV... you get the idea. I understand the stresses of the brain and the variant in tolerance of varying stresses, but there is an accountability, no matter how painful that has to be accepted.

The consequence of the crime should, to me anyway, be more concerning than the label itself. And I can say that I DO NOT feel qualified to issue even ideas for such a punishment. Perhaps that is why people stray from calling it a crime. So they do not need to issue punishment thinking the situation is punishment enough.

But, by definition of the word, it's a crime.

If forgetting to bring your dog in from sub-zero temps is a crime, leaving a child to incinerate themself (without intent) is also.

May no one in my acquaintance ever have to know this situation more intimately than reading that article.

Ryan said...

One thing I was thinking about, and you hit on it, is what is the purpose of punishing crime? If it is for a deterent effect I don't think any punishment that can be given is going to out match killing your own kid. So then what is the point of pursuing it as a crime, particularly if there was no intent?

Not feeding your kids or changing your grandmothers depends isn't exactly on the same level as far as a self-deterent sorta dealio.

As far as the intent goes, I'm just regurgatating what the prosecutor and judge said in the article. I'm certainly no law scholar.