|Photo: Jody Parker/Alabamians for Compassionate Care|
|Alabama activist Loretta Nall: “I wonder how that judge would feel if he were made to piss in a cup because one of his kids got in trouble?”|
A court in Shelby County, Alabama is drug testing the parents of juvenile children on probation, according to activist Loretta Nall.
“I got an email from a parent in Shelby County last night who has a juvenile child enrolled in drug court,” Nall writes on her blog. “This parent informed me that the judge (Kramer) forced a drug test on the spouse under threat of arrest ‘to prove the parents are good role models’ and that this is a standard procedure in Shelby County drug court.”
According to Nall, she had trouble believing her eyes.
“The parents of the juvenile haven’t violated any laws, they are not under the rule of any courts, no custody battles, no DHR or anything like that,” Nall said. “One of the the parents is a teacher. So how can they be forced to submit to court-ordered drug testing?”
“I wonder how that judge would feel if he were made to piss in a cup because one of his kids got in trouble?” Nall commented on her Facebook wall. “You’d see an uproar if that were the case.”
According to Nall, the case in question wasn’t even about drugs to begin with. “The kid in question shoplifted a pack of candy bars and got placed on probation,” she said. “Later the kid tested positive for the fake marijuana that was outlawed [in Alabama]last legislative session.”
Nall said the parents sent her the paperwork for enrollment in the drug court program, “and it was right there in black and white.”
“Parents, Guardians, or Custodians is/are made party to herein shall submit to and pass drug and alcohol screens at the request of the drug court team,” the agreement reads.
Nall said when she checked with a couple of lawyers, she learned that this provision — making parents or guardians “a party” to a case — is in the Alabama Juvenile Code, Section 12-15-31(5):
“A parent or guardian of the child can be made a party to this case pursuant to § 12-15-31(5 ), Code of Alabama 1975. A person made a party to this case may be required to pay attorney fees, to pay for evaluation and treatment, to pay fines, court costs, and restitution, and to pay for care, support, and supervision of the child. A person made a part may be subject to other things also. [Emphasis added.] Failure to comply with the orders of the court can result in contempt proceedings, and failure to make payments ordered can result in a civil judgment for the collection of payments ordered.”
The problem, according to Nall, is the italicized sentence above which says “A person made party may be subject to other things also.”
“That is so broadly written that it can be made to fit anything a judge wants it to fit,” Nall said.
Nall learned from one of the attorneys she had contacted that if one of the parents fails a drug test, they get sent directly to jail.
“How is putting the parent of a kid in trouble, in jail, supposed to help matters?” she asked.
“All they are really doing is looking for more people to extort in drug court,” Nall said. “I guess there reasoning is that if a kid does something wrong (and what kid hasn’t shoplifted a piece of candy at least once?) then the parents must be doing things wrong, too.”
According to Nall, the Alabama chapter of the ACLU has said this is “very problematic” and is currently looking at the case.
Nall would like to hear from any parents with a child in drug court anywhere in Alabama — and especially in Shelby County — to whom this has happened. Please email your story to her at [email protected].
“In the meantime, all parents in Shelby County should be aware that this can, and probably will happen to you, if your child somehow winds up in juvenile court,” Nall said.