87-year-old Floridan woman was charged with murder of her disabled grandson.
On Sunday, September 22, Bradenton police found30-year-old Joel Parks diedat a Florida apartment complex. Lillian Parks, the grandmother, was charged with second-degree murder after she told the police she fatally overdosed him on purpose, authorities said.
Information on Mr. Parks disability has yet to be disclosed to the public. Bradenton police say his grandmother cared for on the weekends and he lived in a group home during the week. Bradenton residents told thelocal newspaperthat he acquired cognitive disabilities from an accident when he was an infant.
According to Bradenton Police Departments Captain Brian Thiers, Ms. Parks was concerned about her medical condition and was worried about who would be caring for him in the event that she passed away,TheNew York Timesreports. Mr. Parks father is deceased, and his mother is estranged,according to the Bradenton Herald.
On Wednesday, a judge signed a warrant for Ms. Parks arrest, and authorities will take her into custody after a medical evaluation.
Unfortunately, cases like this arent that uncommon. Although there is no national database, filicides, when a parent or caregiver murders a dependent, is more common among children with disabilities than among those without disabilities. TheRuderman Family Foundation reportsthat these murders occur approximately once a week, but the actual number is predicted to be much higher. The killings of people with disabilities are under-reported, and the fact that the victims had disabilities is often undisclosed.
During trials, the perpetrators are likely to receive a lesser sentence than those charged with other murders. The juries often are sympathetic to these killers, claiming hardship as a justification for their acts.
Peter Berns, the chief executive of the Arc, an advocacy organization for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, told theTimes, We hear too frequently of parents or caregivers who murder their family members with disabilities or individuals they are caring for. Its tragic that this happens with the frequency that it happens. It is plain and simple a horrible crime. And there is, like most murders, no justification for it whatsoever.
One of the most underrepresented aspects of the Holocaust is themass genocide of people with disabilities. The Germans considered disabilities not measuring up to their concept of a master race. Since they believed the physically and intellectually disabled as useless members of society, the Nazis targeted them for murder in what they called the Aktion T4, or euthanasia program. Around 200,000 people with disabilities were killed in Germany between 1940 and 1945. Many German doctors supervised the actual killings, which happened in specially constructed gas chambers.
The erasure of people with disabilities also occurred in the United States. In 1927, the Supreme Court upheld astatute that provided for the eugenic sterilizationfor people considered genetically unfit, namely those with disabilities. Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. cited that three generations of imbeciles are enough. Thirty states administrated an estimated 65,000 coerced sterilizations.
With those thought patterns and horrid actions woven into disability history, it is no surprise that Ms. Parks, along with many others, still hold the belief in mercy killings.` Also, with a justice system founded upon the idea that people with disabilities are less than the general population, justice for disabled victims of murder might be slow to come.
The state of healthcare in America increases the chances of these killings. To date, there is no national support system for adults with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Once they age out of the school system, these adults face limited opportunities and living situations. They are often dependent on family members for care, and those family members may or may not be best equipped to provide care.
Over the past few decades, there has been an enormous push todeinstitutionalize people with developmental and intellectual disabilities. Advocates and individuals firmly believe that this population deserves full integration with the community.
However, the recent murder of Joel Parks raises the question of if government agencies and community organizations are providing the best line of support and resources to these individuals and their families.
Captain Thiers explores the possibility of Ms. Parks receiving sympathy from the court, noting that she felt like she had no other option. However, hetold theWashington Post, but, again, she took a human life. We dont discriminate based on age or race anything. We have to look at it from the totality of the circumstances. And, at the end of the day, we have to protect his rights, too.
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