People on the Internet have been rallying around Shanesha Taylor, the homeless single mother of two from Scottsdale, AZ, who was arrested on March 20 after she left her two small children alone in a parked car while she went on a job interview. Once the interview was done, Ms. Taylor returned to her car to find police officers waiting for her because someone heard one of the children crying and called the authorities. The mother was arrested and held on $9,000 bond and her children were taken by Child Protective Services. Touched by her story and wanting to help get her out of jail, a good Samaritan started an online fundraiser which had raised $85,085 as of 4/3/2014, and that amount is still increasing! Shanesha Taylor Fundraiser. Ms. Taylor left the following comment on that page thanking everyone for their support:
Thank you to all who love and support me. I am home and safe. I was released early this morning by the grace of god. And the charity of a wonderful church community here in Chandler, AZ. I appreciate everyone who felt move enough to help a complete stranger. I LOVE you all. As to the comments that this fund is fraudelent, please understand there are a lot of people looking to profit from my misfortune. This fund is absolutely real and my first disbursement is pending in my account. Again thank you all for you support. My family and I greatly appreciate it.
Ms. Taylor was released in the early hours of March 31, but she is still facing those felony charges, and there are Twitter and Facebook campaigns underway to pressure Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery to drop the charges.
If you want to participate, you can use this tag #Isupportshanesha to Tweet your support.
Here is Mr. Montgomery’s Facebook page: Maricopa County Attorney
No one would argue that this woman should have left her children in her car, but a little compassion could have gone a long way here. She did not leave those children to go party – she was trying to get a job. How much more difficult will it be for her to do that if she is convicted of two felony charges? It’s hard enough to find a job when there are already something like 100 people applying for one position even if you do not have a criminal record. The competition is fierce!
Mr. Montgomery should explain what was accomplished by separating those children from their mother and throwing her in prison for 11 days. Ms. Taylor is not a threat to anyone, and while she made a bad decision, she is not a criminal. She is just poor – like many others in this country.
The combination of a sluggish economy and a lack of support could cause just about anyone to be in a similarly bad position. We need to stop criminalizing poverty in this country and do more to help those who have fallen through the cracks or are right on the edge. It does no good to complicate Ms. Taylor’s life by making her a felon. If anything, that will make it more likely for her and her children to be stuck in the system for the crime of being poor in America.
Maria Shriver held a townhall meeting on Oprah Prime last night discussing her new HBO documentary “Paycheck to Paycheck: The Life and Times of Katrina Gilbert. The documentary follows a single mother who is struggling to support herself and three children on $9.49 per hour. While Ms. Gilbert is not homeless, she cannot afford to miss a day of work and cannot even purchase all of the medicine that she needs. It’s so bad that her 7-year old daughter told the school nurse not to call her mother when she was sick because the child knew that her mother would have to leave work early.
These are but two examples of how hard it can be to survive in today’s economy. The women in Oprah’s audience had similar experiences that they shared and many were weeping as they spoke and listened. This topic really struck a nerve, and I hope that more of us will be more compassionate, and less judgmental, towards people who are struggling. And I do hope that our legal system learns to temper justice with mercy.