Mom Tells Court: Parents Should Not Have To Pay For Kid's Crime

Filed under: In The News, Weird But True


"He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children." [Exodus 34:6-7]

They reverse that in Davenport, Iowa, where the sins of the children are visited upon the parents.

Under a local law, parents are held responsible in court when their kids are arrested or cited for crimes.

Ann Hensler, however, will have none of it. Her son was accused of drug possession and violating curfew, and the court wants to cite her too. But the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reports she's joined forces with the American Civil Liberties Union to fight city hall.

She has taken her case all the way to the Iowa Supreme Court. The Courier reports justices heard arguments in the case March 2.

Hensler argues she has the right to raise her son without undue intrusion by the state. Although a Scott County judge agrees, city officials appealed the decision to the state Supreme Court.

Davenport parents get a written warning if their kids commit crimes. If kids commit more crimes, the adults are required to take parenting classes. Third offenses generate fines for the folks up to $750.

Attorney Randall Wilson of the American Civil Liberties Union chapter in Iowa argues the law violates due process rights.

The law was put on hold last year after Hensler challenged it. Davenport City Attorney Tom Warner tells the Courier juvenile crime in the city was going down before then.

Iowa already has a juvenile court system to handle delinquency cases, but Warner tells the Courier the city's parental responsibility law complements the slow-moving juvenile system.

"They may get arrested multiple times and get into even more trouble while this juvenile court matter is pending," Warner tells the newspaper about the law. "This is designed to get to them faster."

Related: Woman Goes Undercover to Get Her Husband Out of Jail

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