Saturday, February 11, 2012

The LuLac Edition #1940, February 11th, 2012

"Sound Off Saturday" logo.

Pregnant in jail.


A few ground rules today for Sound Off Saturday. Today we will comment on the prisoner situation in the Luzerne County prison that was broken on the Steve Corbett show yesterday on WILK. We will welcome comments but will not publish any that is defaming to Mr. Corbett, his radio station or his listeners. Give me your opinions but keep your personal comments out of this. I will edit.


Friday afternoon, as I drove up to do Topic A with L.A. Tarone, Steve Corbett broke a news story about a woman who had twins in a jail cell in Luzerne County. My first reaction was to think of something clever for the TV show to make me sound like the smartest guy in the room. Those good pithy sound bites make the bosses smile. My second reaction was to think how afraid the mother/prisoner might have been in that situation. Then I heard the interview Steve did with Warden Joseph Piazza. And that’s when I thought back to my life in the 70s and 80s.
During that time period, I did everything I could to “save” my friends, the women I dated, the strangers I came into contact with and even people I heard about. After many, many hours of “ministering” to these lost souls who were victims of drug and alcohol abuse, loneliness, poverty, misunderstandings, family problems, work problems, physical abuse and a variety of other maladies, I was burnt out. My marriage was teetering on the brink because I took the “Brotherhood of Man” lectures literally and ignored my own family. As a kid in grade school and with a message reinforced by my parents, I was told how fortunate I was and how unfortunate others were. I needed to recognize that and be “Christian” toward others with less. In 1987, I sat in a room at Clearbrook in Shickshinny. I was in an Allanon weekend for caregivers of alcoholics who were having their own issues. We sat in a room and told our stories. One man from Philadelphia was at wit’s end because his son was in his fifth rehab. A woman was there because her husband had a heroin habit and robbed the houses in their Pocono neighborhood. A grandmother from Hazleton in her 80s was there because her grand child was charged with drunk driving and refused to stay in rehab. Then I told my story about a friend of mine that needed constant care to control her alcoholism. I told them the story of how I would go to her apartment at all hours of the night because she was hallucinating. Of the times she invited men from Donahue’s Hour Glass Bar on South Main Street to her house and then be shocked when they misconstrued the invitation. After I was finished, a guy from South Philly named Cleon said, “Like, are you married to this chick?” “Nope” I said. Cleon then said, “Is she your sister, a relative, a niece?” “Nope” I replied again. That’s when he got angry. He said, “Man, you shouldn’t even be here, you’re wasting your time and your energy on a lost cause. Everyone in this room has a relative they’re fighting for, you’re fighting for someone who knows you’re gonna go back every time because you want to save somebody. It’s all about the saving for you man..not them!" He was right. The next day I got the proof. I drove to Clearbrook and picked up the person in question. When we got to downtown Wilkes Barre she told me she needed to pick up some deodorant. I went and got gas. As I returned and drove by the Penn Plaza on South Main she was nowhere to be found. I looked near Abe’s and The China Queen restaurant and saw her coming out of the Liquor Store on South Main Street with three 5 gallon wine bottles. Then I thought of Cleon. This was a lost cause, I didn’t belong here because there was nothing I could do. I took my car keys, got her stuff out of my trunk, gave her a $5 bill for a cab and never saw her again until a few years later. I encountered her when I was employed at the old Call Center on South Main Street. Her teeth were blackened and loose and she looked to be about 80. She conceded that she looked bad but that it was my fault for abandoning her. 5 hours later after my shift, she was still out side of the building that was Mayor McGroarty's dream. As I walked on the upper walkway to the parkade she started screaming up at me. A co worker wanted to know if she was “a fan of mine” and all I could say was “not anymore.” The co worker replied, “Wow, how did you know her?” Thinking of Cleon all those years later, I said, “She was just someone who wasted my time. And I let her”.
Joseph Piazza the warden related to Steve Corbett that the young pregnant lady in question was brought to the prison on a bench warrant on January 26th. She received a medical exam and then on the 27th gave birth to twins. It was revealed that the woman in question was pregnant 8 months before and presumably had a child. Now there were twins coming prematurely. Once you keep on having babies, child birth gets easier. That is a fact. Piazza related the woman said she abused drugs and did not have any prenatal care. Piazza revealed that one of the children died, the other one was in critical condition. The warden said the prison staff did everything according to protocol and within their sphere of responsibility. This was no situation like in Lackawanna County where a full term baby was born in the prison. This individual was taken to the hospital, ministered to and unfortunately the outcome was not good.
But that bad outcome should in no way be placed at the feet of the warden, his staff or the Luzerne County prison. Many of Corbett’s callers felt that more should have been done to save the children. That would be true if the prison staff had a responsible mother/criminal. But they didn’t. They had a woman who abused drugs, got pregnant almost immediately after her last birth, had no idea she was having twins and did not have any prenatal care for the infant or in this case infants. On the same day this story broke, I thought it ironic that the hottest political debate was on the Obama/Catholic church controversy on birth control. The President said, “The Institute of Medicine that when it comes to women, preventive care should include coverage of contraceptive services such as birth control. In addition to family planning, doctors often prescribe contraception as a way to reduce the risks of ovarian and other cancers, and treat a variety of different ailments. And we know that the overall cost of health care is lower when women have access to contraceptive services.”
I bring this up because the debate on the radio show was about the care the woman did or did not get at the prison. It was said that once that woman entered the prison, she and those babies were the responsibility of Warden Piazza and the Luzerne County prison. That’s half right. The prison officials needed reliable information. They had to pry it out of the prisoner. As a responsible human being, this 23 year old prisoner, unless she was mentally challenged, had an obligation to provide information to those trying to help her. She had an obligation to her unborn child to get the proper care instead of shop lifting and doing drugs. You don’t get to prison by not being street smart. Do you mean to tell me that this 23 year old was not aware of birth control? In her situation, why would she even think of bringing another life into “her world” as it exists? Piazza has been criticized for making this all about the mother and not the way the prison reacted….but how could he not do that? It was all about the mother who broke the law, who thought of only herself and not her unborn baby. A few people have even said that the prison has “blood on their hands”. For what, trying to help?
Anything involving babies is an emotional issue. But, to make sure this doesn’t happen again, here are a few suggestions:
1. Any non violent female offender (excluding murder and robbery with a weapon) who is pregnant should be placed in home confinement with a bracelet. That way, they are responsible for the birth or lack thereof of their child. A majority of them most likely have a medical card and can make arrangements for their own health care. And if they’re not, and the babies they are carrying die, at least that won’t be on a prison system that is stretched to the gills.
2. Any prison should release a statement of a birth in a jail to the public as soon as it happens. The prison could make a brief, generic statement describing the incident but at the same time protecting the privacy of the mother/prisoner.
3. All documents related to the generic information of the incident should be available for public inspection or placed on the county’s website.
As I drove home, I heard Steve Corbett say that there were some hard hearted comments from people on his Facebook page who talked about how with the death of this child, there would be one less person on welfare. Corbett said that he hoped those hardhearted people never needed the system and if they did, would not be treated badly like this young woman. A good sensible comment. But I thought about all those young people in their twenties who do the right thing. All those young people who are trying to get jobs in this wretched economy. Those young parents who are trying to live good lives. The young mother who runs away from an abusive partner and walks everywhere with her kid so she can save money for his daycare. The $9 an hour moms who do get pregnant and use some of that paycheck for doctor’s visits and not drugs. I thought about those young parents who put their baby or baby to be first and then worry about themselves. Those are the people that I worry about, that I feel for. Warden Piazza, the Luzerne County Prison, the Luzerne County Council, the WILK listeners, the LuLac readers and the Luzerne County taxpayers are not at fault here. Why should we care about that mother’s babies when she obviously did not? There’s a time and place to care. There’s a situation where you invest your humanity and your time in someone. This is not one of them. Give her five dollars, put her in a cab and let her move on.


At 11:08 AM, Anonymous Professor Milburn Cleaver, OPA said...

Good morning. I am glad to see that most of you have shown your weary heads for class. The reason I have requested this special Saturday session is because I missed the previous Monday. It's called personal responsiblity.
Speaking of personal responsiblity, Mr. Yonki has once again made an outstanding presentation regarding drug addiction.
When we talk of the subject of addiction in general, it all comes down to one simple answer. One can throw all the government money and resources at the problem, but the addict him/herself will only be cured when they want to be cured. End of story.
We have cultivated a world of those who wish not to take personal responsibility for their actions. Mr. Yonki's friend blamed him for her addictions. Mr. Yonki had good intentions but as he admits, he was treading in unknown waters. He came to see that he was wasting his efforts.
IN my young days as a plebe Professor, I recall a colleague much older than I who kept a bottle of Blanton's whiskey in his drawer. I assumed that he could not handle the stress of dealing with the youngsters (even though they were much more polite and committed to education than you all are today) and utilized it as a crutch to get by. Even then, I did not see it as "my" problem. If he screwed up, it was his job and not mine that was on the line. This professor was an adult and responsible for his own decisions. Ultimately, he retired and soon passed away at the age of 66, and there is no question that his lifestyle contributed to his early demise.
I have stated the following time and time again:
Exercise, stop the excessive drinking, the drugs, that fatty foods and the slacker lifestyle. WIth God's help and a great deal of your personal behavior we can bring down the cost of health care within weeks.
Then we will have no need to discuss the "terrible" pharmaceutical industry; nor even Obamacare.
SOmething to think about this morning.
Class Dismissed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 1:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was not expecting this from a self professed Hubert Humphrey liberal. But the fact is the prison did everything they had to do. The mother didn't. And who knows, maybe we should be saying that it was the Luzerne County prison staff who saved her life instead of killing her other twin.

At 2:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, I could never be a member of a prison staff. It is a hard job and damned if you do and damned if you don't. Once more Yonk, your idea on house arrest is a good one. Why should taxpayers or staff be worried about people who ignore their own health concerns? Prison is not a ticket to three meals, a cot and health care!

At 2:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The key regarding the babies health was “NO PRENATAL CARE!!! This happened and it happened fast. Women can suddenly have babies. I’ve seen it! The Lackawanna County Case was far different. And it strangely vanished! The girls Lawyer missed two filing deadlines! Come on, the truth has yet to come out in that case an investigation is in order. Do you suppose someone at the County Lackawanna could have encouraged the “lawyer” to miss two deadlines? Or was the lawyer a totally complete idiot? It was the Gangster Administration and they didn’t need any more bad jail publicity and knew well what a politically successful issue it could be! Just a theory …

At 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your article is excellent. Every once in a while you hit one out of the park and every once in a while is a good batting average when you are crankin’ em out on a daily basis!

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Piaaza made a few mistakes, one was not telling the county administrator. Like you said in LuLac and on TV last night, he should have issued a generic report on this the day it happened. But I heard him on the radio and it seemed logical to me. And even though I’m a man, I know full well that second and then subsequent babies come very, very fast. My third kid was born in an ambulance on the way to the old Mercy on Church street in Wilkes Barre. The nurses reacted the only way they could.

At 7:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonki, you should get those people up at WYLN to change that promo with you and L.A. Tarone. You are no liberal.

At 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Huh, bet ya there are people who are reading this today who want your incipid interview segment back right about now!!!!

At 8:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dave, it just seems to me that there is a certain strata of society that is out of control when it comes to as they used to say in Gone With the Wind, “birthin’ babies”. How do you feel about mandatory sterilization for women who keep on having babies with no visible means of support except us?

At 9:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yonki ... Yonki ... Yonki !!!

At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Certainly wasn't worth it to send her to jail for retail-theft! For all the BS that will happen! Next time fine her for the amount she has on her ($10, $5,whatever) and send her home. The list of people that want the government to take care of them keeps going up. Need a president with the guts to say enough is enough.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger David Yonki said...

How do you feel about mandatory sterilization for women who keep on having babies with no visible means of support except us?

At 12:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really like the way you framed this issue. The Warden should have made this public instead of a reporter finding out.....but I don't think there was anything that was done incorrectly. The prison staff made the best of a bad situation.

At 12:41 PM, Blogger David Yonki said...

Once more Yonk, your idea on house arrest is a good one. Why should taxpayers or staff be worried about people who ignore their own health concerns?

At 2:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I listen to Steve Corbett and read his internet postings on the WILK site. I read your blog every day. For my money, both of you are excellent writers. Out of all the blogs in the area, you two are the only ones who have any idea how to write. (Mark Cour too). Everybody else just posts someone else's work. But my point is this: how can two people have such divergent opinions on an issue like this? It gives you an idea how complex this thing is. Nobody's right if everybody's wrong, those song lyrics come to mind.

At 3:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody's right if everybody's wrong, those song lyrics come to mind.

The only way I can tell is HOW THEY LIVE THEIR LIFE. Rhymes and lines come easy...but I guess that's what the professor was sayin'.

At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rhymes and lines dont come as easy as you think. Try writing something meaningful and you'll soon find out. I know, I've been doing it for over 30 years now. Sometimes we pay a very high price for insights learned thru life's lessons.



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