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Mother Pleads Guilty to Stealing Son’s Education and Gets 12 Years In Prison, Is It Fair? | Clutch Magazine (Participation)

February 29, 2012


Mother Pleads Guilty to Stealing Son’s Education and Gets 12 Years In Prison, Is It Fair?

Wednesday Feb 29, 2012 – by Thembi Ford

Tanya McDowell is a homeless Connecticut mother who was charged with felony larceny last year after she lied about her address to make her six-year-old son eligible to attend school in a better district. McDowell pled guilty to the accusation and was sentenced to twelve years in prison this week. While the sentence also takes four charges of drug possession and sale into account, the sentence also requires that McDowell pay a $6,200 fine for stealing what the state has calculated was $15,000 in educational services.

McDowell’s case attracted the support of education and civil rights advocates who argued that because she was living in a van and occasionally sleeping at a shelter in Norwalk, where she enrolled her child, she should not have been required to send him to school in the city of her last permanent address, which is located in Bridgeport. Instead of using that old Bridgeport address, McDowell used that of a babysitter who lived in Norwalk to send her son to kindergarten.

Does this twelve year sentence make any sense? It’s a shame that McDowell got caught up in drugs, whether she was selling them or using them, and it’s clear that she was doing everything she could to make a life for her child — she’s no Nino Brown. But that part of the sentence at least makes sense. What’s disgraceful is the idea that a parent who lacks a permanent address can be separated from her child for using the address of a friend to “steal” a free education for him.

via Mother Pleads Guilty to Stealing Son’s Education and Gets 12 Years In Prison, Is It Fair? | Clutch Magazine.

via Mother Pleads Guilty to Stealing Son’s Education and Gets 12 Years In Prison, Is It Fair? | Clutch Magazine.


From → Participation

  1. Kaylie DeWitte permalink

    This article really surprised me. I believe that it’s not fair that this women was sentenced to twelve years in prison because of the fact that she was trying to send her son to school. I can see why some of those years are also due to the drugs, but that’s not what the majority of the sentence was for. If I was in this ladies shoes and had a son, I would want to do anything and everything in my power to let him have a great future and the best education that he could get. I would want my son to be able to go to school and make a living for himself instead of living in a van and shelters like the mom. I don’t think that giving the babysitter’s address was that big of a deal because why should that even matter? The only thing that matters is that the boy is getting an opportunity that not many kids would get if they had living conditions like that. Why should an address matter when a boys education is at stake? Not everyone has the perfect life, but everyone deserves to have an equal chance when it comes to school and setting up for your future. Just because the mother didn’t make it off as well as she probably hoped, doesn’t mean that the boy has to have the same life. He can go off and do amazing things if he wanted. There’s nothing holding him back. If anything, they should just punish the mother and not rid the boy of his education. That’s just not right. The mother had no other choice but to put the babysitters address because she has no real address. I believe that no matter a person’s background, everyone should get an equal shot at becoming something great.

  2. Gary Barquet permalink

    My first reaction is simply shocked, I really don’t understand the sentence. How can there be such thing as stealing an education? I know stealing as talking something that doesn’t belong to you, and who is to say that someone doesn’t deserve an education. Steal an education? that sounds outrageous, obviously the drugs were just a reason to add on to the sentence but not the initial reasoning at all. 12 years, thats crazy to me, you can do “REAL” crimes, such as a grand theft auto and get a shorter sentence. I feel as if just because of what the mother does now, which is sell drugs and live in her car doesn’t make her a bad person, she may not have had opportunities offered to her to really do better things in life, so she wants her son to have opportunities in life. She didn’t even have a real address so how can it be wrong to send her son to any school? Also I feel as if other people were in her situation that they would do the same thing.

  3. Amanda Fu permalink

    I agree, the charge seems way too extreme for a mom who just wants her son to succeed in life! But I would like to know how many years in jail does 4 charges of drug possession get a person? If that’s closer to the 12 and the added years for this “education” theft simply bring up the years by a few years, then I could understand it a little bit more. I can see that the government may feel like she is “stealing” an education for her child that could be provided to a child who’s mother did not lie about their address, but I don’t think that that is fair in the first place that the child’s mother should have to go through all this trouble just to put her child in school!
    I am also wondering if there was any other way for this mother to have gone about putting her son in school? I’m sure that if there are free clinics for people who are homeless, as well as soup kitchens, then there must also be other sources for things such as school or activities to help people out of poverty. Obviously, this mother has had a bad past, and may be having a hard time dealing with her own problems, but she is trying her best in what way she knows how to give her son a different life.

  4. Kyla Chappell permalink

    This article was extremely shocking! I can’t believe with all the criminals and delinquents in our world, they are wasting tax payer money to put her behind bars for just trying to give her soon a good education! But I also agree with Amanda’s comment, I would like to know what the time in prison would be for four charges of drug possession would get someone. And how many years were tacked on for this silly education charge. But there would be no justification to charge this woman solely on this education charge. Many minorities are denied equal and good education, so she should not be punished, especially to this degree, for trying to give her son more to life.

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