Free-Range Kids

Mom Who Overslept While Son Walked to School Could Get 10 Years in Prison

An update on Maria Hasankolli.



Maria Hasankolli, the Connecticut mom who was arrested after police found her eight-year-old son walking to school while she overslept, had her court appearance yesterday. Here is what she wrote to me:

So I just left court. I was informed that "risk of injury to a minor" (my charge) carries with it a ten year sentence, five thousand dollar fine, and five years probation. My case was continued to January 6th, 2016.

Thank you all for your support and words of encouragement. I'll keep you informed as I go. Perhaps someone reading is struggling my struggle and will find comfort knowing they're not alone.

Anyone think Hasankolli would be able to supervise her son a lot better from a jail cell?

The idea that a mother should go to prison for failing to incessantly shelter her child is based on the two corrosive beliefs of our time:

1). Children are in danger every second of every day from everything and everyone, which means the moment they are unsupervised it's as if they've been left to die.

2 ). If only the authorities could micromanage our lives, they could do a much better job of saving our kids from this constant danger.

Put those together and you get a society second-guessing every parenting decision that isn't "Keep them inside with the A.C on."

Hasankolli was not the only mom I heard from this week. There was also a mom in rural Utah who told me she left her 8-year-old (with a cell phone) at McDonald's watching his 2-year-old brother in the play area while she dashed across the strip mall for a hair trim. She was back in 15 minutes, but by then, a cop had already appeared. As she told me over the phone, "He was talking about there being charges, and how [child services] was going to come to my house and file a report or something and do an investigation and all this stuff."

She sounded beside herself.

Now I know this will elicit some cries of, "Eight is too young!" or, "That's something I would never do!" Which is fine. You can feel that, and you can parent as you see fit. But I hope we can agree that escalating this into an actual "case" is beyond the pale.

Around the world, according to anthropologist David Lancey, between 40 and 60 percent of children are looked after by their older siblings. We have forgotten this. We have forgotten that 15 minutes is a blip in time. We have forgotten how safe we are in America. We have forgotten that 8-year-olds can take on some responsibility—especially a task as undemanding as playing with a brother at an indoor playground where there are plenty of adults around if he seriously needed any help. And we have forgotten that not every parenting decision needs to be investigated as if it's a crime scene.

NEXT: Violent Crime and Murder Are Half What They Used to Be; Is That Changing?

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  1. As a child that was left on his own regularly and allowed to walk to middle school on my own, I’m just thankful to be alive.

    1. Yeah, well, look how you turned out. Here you are as an adult commenting on a *shudders* Libertarian website! If only your parents had properly drilled into you that you’re helpless and can’t be trusted to make your own decisions, you’d be a good little sheeple.

      1. haha, +1

  2. So would it be crazy talk to suggest that the cops shouldn’t be able to arrest/charge a parent without specific and articulable evidence of actual harm to a child? Or that CPS not be allowed to destroy anyone’s life until after they had actually been convicted (or charged, at the very least) of a crime?

    1. I had a client that was charged with felony child endangerment after his wife reported a “domestic violence” incident to the cops a week after the alleged incident because the kid was in his bedroom upstairs.

    2. What fun would that be, Hugh?

    3. Surely you’re not suggesting we actually wait for something bad to happen to a child before acting?! You monster! WE MUST BE PROACTIVE – FOR TEH CHILDRENZ!!1!!!11!!!!!!

  3. Thanks, Lenore, for another full-Balko-nutpunch article.

    Hey, do you think there’s a correlation between this sort of thing and events like the San Bernadino and Paris attacks? I would suspect that those already prone to hysteria get really ramped up by those events and generate more calls to 911.

    1. I’d love to see somebody crunch the numbers. Not me, I’m too lazy.

      I had on the scanner feed for San Bernardino pretty much all day yesterday. I only had 1 of the 12 channels that they were using to communicate. On that channel alone, I’d guess that they followed at least a dozen obviously bad leads from hysterical 911 callers

      And of course, each of those leads resulted in innocent people being proned out at gunpoint by the police.

    2. San Bernardino was just another couple of ‘programmed’ Islamic terrorists. There’s something done to these people where they can blend in and act like perfectly ordinary, normal people then suddenly they’re walking into some place killing people.

      The guy worked at the place he shot up. None of his co-workers ever noticed anything odd or weird about him. They’d had a child six months ago.

      At some point they started accumulating a bunch of guns and ammo, police found 14 pipe bombs in their home and about 1,600 more rounds of ammo in their truck.

      So the attack was planned well in advance, yet they were able to keep it all hidden from everyone who knew them.

      At some point they must have received an order to start preparations, then another order to attack, which they followed without question, abandoning their infant child so they could be martyrs for Allah.

      Who is giving the orders and how can they so effectively control people so they’ll leave their children orphans and murder friends they’ve known for years? Are they thinking “I’m going to kill you!” all the time they’re going out to dinners and movies and backyard BBQ with other people?

  4. what in the fuck is going on in this country?

    1. Are you people aware of what’s happening? What is driving you to this behavior? Is it the humidity? Is it the Muzak? Is it the white shoes?

      1. Nope….CLIMATE CHANGE!!!! just ask Barry

      2. I blame the interwebz

    2. The overweening administrative state. I’m not even certain it’s possible to roll it back.

      1. All it is a perpetual need in our culture to judge other’s decisions and force people to follow a certain value system. I am sure if we looked hard enough we could find this story on another website where the comment section is filled with venomous hatred for this women. I would but I am lazy and I would just get frustrated with their stupidity.

        1. We’ve always had that tendency, but the means for rectifying our neighbors’ vices were limited. Now we have a bureaucratic leviathan with almost unrestricted access to our private lives sanctioned by a dimwitted public that celebrates this noble goal.

  5. Oh, don’t worry, a grand jury of her fellow citizens ought to be sympathetic to her situation. Or the prosecutor, under to much political pressure to drop the charges on his/her own initiative, will pass the buck to the grand jury which will drop the charges….

    Oh, wait, Connecticut rarely uses grand juries, and the Supreme Court over 100 years ago, over dissent, in a case whose rationale has been undermined since then, says the states don’t have to.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if the entire Bill of Rights, including its grand jury clause, were binding on the states? Then a grand jury would have to approve any charges of “infamous crime[s],” which would presumably include these serious child-endangerment charges.

    Never mind, it’s just a picky little bullshit issue and the only people who benefit from grand juries are the cops.

    So never mind.

  6. The kid’s eyes are so far apart he probably had a 360 degree field of vision anyhow.

    1. NTTAWWT

    2. FAS?

    1. If the intent of the fourteenth amendment was to make applicable, the Bill of Rights, into the constitutions of all the states, it would have said so, explicitly.
      The fourteenth was an emotional response to a recent divisive war and was intended to only solve issues related to the freeing of the slaves and any laws states may have passed, or would pass, to undermine that.
      Its extrapolation has caused more consternation over its refocusing on “equality” – an impossible metric – away from liberty.
      Prior, laws had to pass the threshold of if the proposed legislation was a necessary denial of liberty, ante, the threshold became if the laws was a necessary denial of equality, when no two people are, completely equal, and the ways in which that equality is not uniform has been used to deny liberty to many.
      There is a maxim that one shouldn’t make important decisions when in a highly emotional state. That should go double, when altering the foundation of government.

  7. I’m guessing this is a typical case of prosecutorial game-playing. Grossly overcharge in order to get a plea bargain that makes the prosecutors look like indulgent softies. ‘See, we were lenient. Only a year’s probation and the Child Protective services visiting randomly once a week or so.’
    Rather than the bullies that the actually are….

    1. As opposed to overcharging the cop in Chicago with a 1st degree murder charge with the intent that he will likely be found not guilty, as opposed to a charge of second degree murder or manslaughter.

      1. You need to understand that the last cop in Chicago charged with manslaughter was set free by the judge (just a few months ago) because the judge said he should have been charged with murder. When charging the king’s men, you must guess EXACTLY right or the charges won’t stick. For the king’s subjects, any charges will do and the more the better.

        Life in the police state.

  8. When I was 8 I had a paper route. I had to get myself up every morning at 5:00AM and wrap and throw papers, rain or shine. I knew my parents were monsters but did not know how monstrous they were until reading this article. Hell, I used to have to walk over a mile to school if I didn’t make it to the bus stop when I was 6. (only one way uphill and never in the snow).

    1. I jogged to middle school almost every day. Not for fitness but because I almost never left the house on time. Damn video games.

    2. I’m sorry to tell you, Marshall, but your parents’ negligent parenting got you attacked so brutally you ended up in a coma. You’ve been there for a long time. Everything you see is just a dream.

      1. Don’t listen to him, Marshall! He’s a liar. It’s all real. Also, if you wake up, I’ll disappear!

    3. I walked to school since kindergarten, I think. Sometimes with my older brothers, sometimes not. We lived around the corner at that time, but moved about 3/4 mile away and across a busy intersection by the time I was in second grade. I vividly recall walking to school alone then. I remember one time picking up a dying bird on my way to school, then getting paranoid that I was going to die from disease.

      1. Times really have changed. When I was 8 (1987, so not that long ago) I was officially designated by my school as a “walker” and had to hoof it half a mile to school on my own everyday. No way they were gonna pay to bus a kid who lived that close. Now that’s child abuse. Go figure.

      2. As I’ve said before, after the first day of kindergarten being walked the half mile by my grandmother, it was solo, or maybe with the kid down the street. I lived, apparently.

        Don’t forget being given 50cents to get a haircut the same year. This time, in the other direction, about the same distance.

        I’d love to get on a jury for one of these cases just to laugh at the prosecutor.

    4. My husband grew up in Arizona – it was a two mile walk just to the bus stop in pitch dark. Every so often he’d stop and play in the snake and scorpion infested scrub brush.

  9. I was informed that “risk of injury to a minor” (my charge) carries with it a ten year sentence, five thousand dollar fine, and five years probation.

    That’s the threat – you wanna fight about it? This is how bad we will fuck you up. On the other hand, we have a plea deal here – a lesser charge that carries a punishment of court costs of a few hundred bucks, a parenting class (that costs a few hundred bucks more and is – surprise, surprise – run by the judge’s brother-in-law) maybe a little community service, plus of course you’ll have to plead guilty, waive your right to appeal, sign an agreement holding anybody connected with the case free of any liability for any actions they took, and agree to a gag order preventing you from discusssing the case. Given the choice, very few people have the guts to fight, no matter how innocent, no matter how outraged – because they know the government can fuck you up and nobody’s going to give a shit about some trailer park-trash glue-sniffing Jerry Springer-watching fat stupid cow of a mom who doesn’t care if her babies get raped by wolverines. And by the time they get done slandering you in the press that’s exactly how they would describe Mother Teresa herself.

    1. And mouthbreathers in the public will applaud it as justice served because for whatever reason idiots love seeing parents punished. And pet owners. Vanity of small differences, indeed.

      1. Yep even though it sounds like she is raising a responsible, independent kid (is that the real crime)

      2. for whatever reason idiots love seeing parents punished

        Especially if said parent is a “trailer park-trash glue-sniffing Jerry Springer-watching fat stupid cow of a mom who doesn’t care if her babies get raped by wolverines.” Idiots love being able to look down their noses and feel superior to others. Maybe deep down they realize they’re worthless pieces of shit so they need to have someone who they can look down on in order to keep from painting the walls with their brains? Personally I’d rather they just choke on a .45, but oh no, then I’m the monster for pointing out how fucking worthless most people are.

  10. Per the prior post, violent crime is half what it used to be.

    An economically-responsible government would therefore conclude that they need half the number of police they used to need. Instead, these governments have increased the number of non-violent/victimless “crimes” to keep the patronage train rolling.

  11. You people think Home Alone is an instruction manual?

    Idiots. Plus, she violated McDonalds trespassing rules by not accompanying the children. She deserves to be flogged, not sympathized with.

    1. Precisely. Stripped and scourged through the streets as a warning to others.

      1. I meant metaphorically, obviously.

        But anybody that would leave their kids unattended in a business, against the wishes of the proprietor, one of them a toddler and the other too young to be left alone in a business, just so they could go get a trim is an imbecile.

        I’d also be willing to bet that 15 minutes was more like an hour or two. It’s all a man can do to get a trim at a barber shop in 15 minutes. No way does a woman do the same at a salon.

    2. D+. Very weak. Terrible handle, too.

      1. You got a problem with Super Troopers, bud?

        1. Other than it not being funny at all, no.

          1. I’m calling shenanigans

            1. I’m going to pistol whip the next person who says shenanigans!

          2. Anyone who doesn’t like Super Troopers is a communist

      2. Great rebuttal. You’ve convinced me that leaving an 8 year old in charge of a toddler in a business, against their stated policies by the way, for god knows how long is a fantastic idea.

        1. So because it’s not a “fantastic idea” the mother should have her children taken away and be thrown in prison. You’ve convinced me that you’re a fucking moron.

        2. You know, there is an entire fucking continents worth of terrain between “a “fantastic idea” and “send the bitch to prison for more time than the average child rapist serves”

  12. She won’t get 10 years. It would be insane and would mean the United States lacks civility. It’s barbaric to bust up a family for this.

    God I hope the prosecutor isn’t an ambitious asshole.

    My woodchipper is already wearing out.

  13. There was also a mom in rural Utah who told me she left her 8-year-old (with a cell phone) at McDonald’s watching his 2-year-old brother in the play area while she dashed across the strip mall for a hair trim. She was back in 15 minutes, but by then, a cop had already appeared. As she told me over the phone, “He was talking about there being charges, and how [child services] was going to come to my house and file a report or something and do an investigation and all this stuff.”

    She sounded beside herself.

    Of course, had the 2-year old bonked his head and cried about it, Mommy would have filed a nice fat lawsuit at the speed or light.

    1. Your mind-reading powers are impressive. What is NutraSweet thinking of right now?

      1. Trump, Clinton (take your pick), and Fiorina not calling the doctor after an erection lasting for more than four hours.

        1. What about an Election that lasts more than four hours?

    2. Well then we should reform the fucking courts, not throw innocent people in jail.

      1. If you’re innocent, it’s only because someone hasn’t written a law criminalizing something you do.

        1. Nah. Just need to look harder. Everyone is a felon, whether they know it or not.

          1. that’s the idea yo. wouldnt things be easier for the police if they could just arrest anyone whenever they wanted?

  14. A few years ago, a reporter for the Athens (Ga) news asked some local prosecutors and defense attorneys if grand juries were actually sandwich-indicting rubber stamps.

    Glenn Jones, one of the local public defenders, started out with some ham sandwich-style rhetoric, but:

    “He added, however, that a grand jury also acts as a valuable check on the justice system, in which a smart and independent-minded jury will sometimes refuse to indict on a weak case.

    “”The grand jury helps separate the wheat from the chaff,” he said. As one example, he cited the case of a construction worker who was arrested for allegedly yelling a death threat at a police dog. When a grand jury was presented that case, Jones noted, it declined ” sensibly, in his opinion ” to bring a felony charge against the man.”

    David Frey, who’s played for both teams, noted (starting with reporter’s paraphrase): “in his own experience as a prosecutor, he relies heavily on the common sense of grand juries to let him know early on whether a potential felony case is worth taking to trial.

    “”I tell grand juries, ‘If you’ve got a problem with this case at this level, tell me,'” he said. Based on such feedback, he claimed, he has opted in some cases to drop a prosecution.”

    1. Based on such feedback, he claimed, he has opted in some cases to drop a prosecution under the sitting grand jury and empaneled a new jury that was more receptive.

    2. “”The grand jury helps separate the wheat from the chaff,” he said. As one example, he cited the case of a construction worker who was arrested for allegedly yelling a death threat at a police dog. When a grand jury was presented that case, Jones noted, it declined ” sensibly, in his opinion ” to bring a felony charge against the man.”

      Why the hell did he even bring that case before a grand jury?

      1. Because, I assume, the cops were breathing down his neck?

        1. Which strikes me as a key reason prosecutors often try to bring dogs of cases to trial – not impartial commitment to justice, but the cops screaming in his face to “get that scumbag who disrespected mah dog!” or “back up the arresting officer – you’re not calling him a liar, are you? Because we can always back someone else at the next election!”

          Grand jurors, at least in the case that was cited, don’t seem to be so much influenced by this.

          1. Ha, I unintentionally made a funny – “dogs of cases.”

      2. Cops wanted him to.

  15. *fires up woodchipper*

    1. Those small woodchippers aren’t going to do any good any longer. Reason needs to invest the webathon funds into one of these.

  16. Anyone think Hasankolli would be able to supervise her son a lot better from a jail cell?

    Well, I don’t think that’s the argument being made by the jailers. I think the State has Concluded that she’s Incapable of Supervising her Child, so the State is going to Do it For her.

    1. Something something… “it takes a village”… mumble mumble… “need to get past this notion that our children are really ours”…

  17. Another reason to homeschool the kids: Oversleeping isn’t a felony.

    1. Give it time.

  18. She should just present the odds of her child being hurt or killed by a stranger while walking (low) to the odds of him being hurt or killed if she had driven him to school (high).

    1. Or the odds of him being or killed by the cop if he’d had a toy gun on him (99.99999999%).

  19. 10 fucking years in jail for this? That’s beyond insanity.

  20. How can they charge her for risk of injury to a child not under her immediate supervision? On your property, sure. But once the kid left his yard, I don’t see it. At that point she’s not a positive risk to injury. Nor could she prevent any injury from occurring. I’d lawyer the shit out of that angle. What are you supposed to do? Put a pressure sensor on your kid’s bed that wakes you every time they get up?

  21. Remember folks, these women are facing felony charges. Even if they don’t go to prison they would be stripped of their constitutionally guaranteed second amendment rights on conviction. This is what America thinks of the concept of rights, women should be stripped of them for letting their children play alone.

  22. Obviously she’s not going to get 10 yrs. in the pen.

    In a world of billions of people, there are going to be rare bad events on the margin that practically speaking we can’t do anything about, whether it’s somebody shooting a buncha guys or some authorities exercising bad judgment regarding care of children, without twisting ourselves into worse knots. There is no way to take the judgment out of family law, which means that on the extremes there’ll always be whoppers of crazy cases like this.


    1. But could we please find that isn’t run by the idiots?

    2. I keep hearing about a “village.” All I can see from here is an overblown bureaucratic quagmire. Is this the village you’re talking about?

  24. Seems to get worse as the thing goes on. When, where and by whast or by whom will the transgressions of The Nany State b

    1. Poor typing and perhaps a computer problem combined. The thing should read as follows.

      Seems to get worse as the thing goes on. When, where and by what or by whom will the transgressions of The Nanny State be checked?

  25. My son is 9 and he’s been walking to school for 2 years now…what’s wrong with people

  26. These fearful authoritarian busy-bodies seriously underestimate the parental instincts of people. Most of us would rush to aid any helpless child, even if it wasn’t our own. I’ve read Charles Dickens, so I’m not one of those who thinks the world is less safe today than before–even in the 1950’s, danger was hidden, not non-existent. Today, we know about more dangers, but it’s not worse: even animals are granted more respect than in the past.
    How else can we raise independent and capable children unless we let them practice for short periods of time? It took me 15 minutes to walk to school at age 5, before cell phones! I can see why McDonald’s might not want the potential liability, but I can’t imagine they’d make a case of it, either.

    It’s a paradox of government that it has become the biggest threat to our safety and the safety of children. Instead of creating safety, it creates fear.

  27. What’s really idiotic is the notion that a kid who’s smart enough to get himself ready for school on his own is too stupid to watch out for himself under any circumstances whatever.

  28. For my first four years of school, starting at age six, I walked close to a mile to school. This included crossing a state highway. The real danger to kids today is that they will be smothered to death by the nanny state.

  29. So back in the day we had certain groups that believe this level of control should be enforced by the society. It’s legal now, enforced via the uncontrollable juvenile justice system. You can bitch about each and everyone of the 1000 individual cases, forgetting that this is the pattern, this is by design. This is the case where the society needs to get organized and say “no” to this “justice” approach. However, it will never do so, because it’s been prepped by media to be afraid and prioritize fear over choice.

  30. When you live under a king you are a subject, all power flows down and he “allows” you your sundry existences.

    From the beginning we were a republic wherein resided citizens, ultimately with all the power, that we allowed to incrementally flow up.

    Point: one form of terror is to make the drop of the state’s hammer arbitrary to the point you don’t know where the “safe line” is, ergo the goal is to get the “citizens” to “subject” themselves to self policing and everyone else insight. Katy Martin in her book “Enemies of the People” returned to present day hungry to look at the secrete police file on her parents under the communists. She found that everyone of her fathers enemies AND every last one of his friends informed on him!

    Forget school days can this mom in question be the only woman in a population of tens of millions who’s kids slipped out while she napped?

    Lenore baby you are wrong about one thing I would never go up to “help” strange kids, public or private. A woman working in a bookstore told me that she was afraid to go up to children that appear lost in the store.

    This isn’t going to be turned around very easily because the first time any of it is rolled back a kid will be grabbed and the person doing the rolling will be stoned to death on Twitter and loose their job and anything else the social warriors can take away.

    And it all happened on our watch.

  31. Well at least she could not duct tape him to the floor again if she is in a jail cell. I wish you did a little more research before writing this article, it is a shame that the readers only have this disillusioned biased nonsensical false perception to go by. This is my sister-in-law, yes thats right, and problems started with the kids literally 3 weeks after she moved in to my brothers house, who by the way was married to Maria’s “best” friend at the time. She has an extended history of fighting off DCF charges and a long record to boot, but somehow is being portrayed as the victim here. The kids in this house are the victims, period. So if you want this woman to continue to duct tape my nephew to the floor, by all means, keep standing up for her rights, otherwise lets think about the kids, their rights, and their safety.

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