After a tragedy in Texas — a 3-year-old girl is dead — some Texans are promoting a law that has such a dubious link to the death that it feels almost…weird. It’s like a law in search of a crime that found couldn’t find that crime, so it found another crime and shoehorned its way in.
As reported by SpectrumNews:
Adopted father, Wesley Mathews, has been charged with capital murder in the 2017 death of his 3-year-old daughter adopted from India, Sherin Mathews.
Richardson Police told WFAA that Wesley had told investigators they left for dinner the night prior to her disappearance on the evening of Oct. 6, 2017. Wesley, his wife, Sini, and their biological daughter had gone to dinner on Friday night.
At 3 a.m. the following morning, Wesley told police he had “physically assisted” Sherin with drinking her milk, and then watched as she choked to death before placing her body outside the home. The little girl’s body was found three weeks later.
A grand jury found that Wesley had used a deadly weapon to kill Sherin. He’s has been charged with capital murder, and faces the death penalty.
But the law being proposed in the little girl’s honor — “Sherin’s Law” — is this, according to News10:
Sherin’s Law would make it a felony to leave a child at home alone. Richardson Police told WFAA that Wesley had told investigators they left for dinner the night prior to her disappearance. Wesley, Sini, and their biological daughter had gone to dinner on Friday night.
“No children under 9 or 10 years old need to be left unaccompanied at home,” said Shanna Poteet.
First of all, it sounds like this girl may have been murdered. That is hardly a “home alone” issue.
Secondly, even if somehow the death does end up connected to her being at home, neglected, there is an enormous difference between leaving a 3-year-old at home alone, and leaving a child who is 7 or 8 or 9.
So why is this bad idea for a law — a law that would criminalize decent parents who let their kids stay home at the same age many of us were latchkey kids (or certainly watching TV for half an hour while mom ran an errand) — being named for a girl who died under mysterious and possibly murderous circumstances?
“Oftentimes when something terrible happens to a child, our collective grief and outrage prompt knee-jerk law changes,” says Brandon Logan, Director of the Center for Families & Children at Texas Public Policy Foundation. “But terrible cases and good intentions result in laws that punish good parents.”
A law named for a departed child does not bring that child back. A bad law doesn’t even lend meaning to their loss. – L.