Ashley, Richardson, a mom of four who went to a food bank while her kids, ages 6-8, played at the park for more than two hours, was arrested and jailed in Winter Haven, Florida. While the park day sounds like it was far less than ideal—the oldest in the bunch got stuck in a baby swing and required help from the Fire Department to get him out, and later on the kids were found playing near the road—the attitude of the police chief is even more disturbing. Bay News 9 quotes Police Chief Gary Hester saying:
"Six, seven and 8-year-old kids are not equipped to be left unattended, I mean period," he said. "I met some pretty mature 6, 7, 8-year-olds but you don't leave them unattended. I guess the question we should be asking is this 28-year-old mother, should she be left unattended. Doesn't look like she's mature enough to be a parent. She's being supervised today in the county jail. Hopefully she learns her lesson."
If it's true that even 8-year-olds are never to be left unattended "period," I guess Chief Hester would go on around arresting all the first, second and third graders who walk to school on their own, or get home and make themselves a snack while waiting for their parents to arrive?
I truly appreciate that the first officer on the scene waited a long time for the mom to arrive and didn't immediately call for backup or handcuffs. And it does seem like it was a day of some play and some misery for the kids. But it sounds like a day of only misery for Ashley Richardson, who expected the trip to the food bank to take less time than it did. The question then is: Should we arrest all moms who have a sub-optimal day and don't manage their time completely perfectly? Does arresting her improve her family's circumstances or leave the kids any safer or better cared for?