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Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Too Much Sympathy? Bonnie Liltz Speculation

One of the great benefits of writing blog entries is the feedback I get from readers. This is a double edged sword though. I get many emails and insightful comments from those with a similar philosophy of life. I find this gratifying and without question supportive comments lessen my  feeling of isolation. On the other hand I receive a healthy dose of stinging criticism some of which is blatant hate email. This bothers me. I read the stinging criticism and carefully moderate the comment section. I do my best to be fair to all those that write to me. I am willing to engage others who hold contrary views because this is a great way to learn. Another benefit of the comments section is the links to essays and news stories readers send me.

Last night a reader sent me a link to a news story out of Chicago. Two mainstream news outlets reported that Bonnie Liltz was admitted to the hospital. She was in prison a total of four days. Liltz's lawyer, Thomas Glasgow, told reporters he knew this would happen. I knew this would happen too. Her hospitalization could be a by product of the overwhelming sympathy she has received from across the nation. I do not know if this factually correct. I am speculating here. Based on the actions of her lawyer before and after Liltz was convicted of murdering her daughter Courtney it was made very clear Liltz's body had been "ravaged by cancer". Again, I have no idea how ill Liltz is. Based on news reports she was admitted to Cermak Hospital, the medical facility that serves the inmate population, and transferred again to Stroger Hospital. This was set in motion by her lawyer who filed an emergency motion requesting Liltz bail be reinstated or for Liltz to remain in Stroger Hospital. Liltz will remain at Stroger Hospital until a June 7 hearing.

Glasgow is doing his job. He wants to keep his client out of jail. Glasgow stated that Liltz likely got an infection in jail. Her infection is related to her ostomy pouch. Liltz was admitted to the hospital for dehydration and further testing. I am well aware that dehydration can be very serious. I know this because I live on the edge of dehydration on a regular basis. Accessible bathrooms remain in short supply. Liltz may be very sick. She may have a severe infection. She has the right to privacy as does any sick person in the nation. Yet there is level of legal gamesmanship that may be involved in her hospitalization. Is her lawyer using an immediate illness to set up up a compassionate release request? I am no legal expert but this is a logical next step given the overwhelming support she has received. I have no idea how the compassionate release process unfolds. I did spend some time on various websites and have no idea what to make of compassionate release requests. A few years ago NPR did a series of stories in which terminally ill inmates died in prison. Some of the stories were heart breaking. I also do not know how successful compassionate release requests are. Based on a google search and an hour of reading these requests seem to be a polarizing issue within the field of criminal justice.

I do not typically engage in speculation. Yet there is something about the Bonnie Liltz case that is lingering in my mind. Maybe it is because of Robert Latimer who was convicted or murdering his daughter Tracy. Years ago this was a huge case in Canada and it was hotly debated at a national level. Maybe it is because of another case in Canada this year. In March Cindy Ali was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for murdering her daughter. Like Courtney Liltz and Tracy Latimer, Cynara Ali was severely disabled. Unlike, Liltz, Ali tried to cover up her murder. Regardless, this pattern of parental murder is astounding. How can we let this happen? As I wrote before, murder is murder. This appears to not be the case when a parent murders their severely disabled child. I can't seem to let this go. It is why I take the ASAN Disability Day of Mourning seriously. Link: http://autisticadvocacy.org/2016/02/disability-day-of-mourning-vigil-sites/ In the past five years over one hundred and eighty parents have murdered their disabled children. Every March 1st vigils are held nation wide. Such vigils get virtually no publicity. That's okay with me. I prefer to mourn in private. March 1 of 2017 is already on my calendar. I hope readers will put it on your schedule as well.

9 comments:

Matthew Smith said...

Care for sick or severely disabled inmates in most countries is lacking. In this country a man with Friedrich's ataxia who was jailed for smuggling cocaine or heroin (I can't remember which) nearly died because the prison he was sent to failed to ensure that his physiotherapy and drug regimen was kept up. He survived and was released early. But drug smuggling is one thing and murder is something else. I often hear that people have got non-custodial sentences for multiple severe child abuse convictions because of old age or infirmity, and having been in a school a lot like those concerned, it always makes me angry when I hear about this.

Bonnie Liltz could have made a fuss about the conditions her daughter had suffered in the nursing home and appealed for money to provide her with proper care after her death. She chose to kill Courtney instead. Do the crime, do the time.

h smith said...

She chose to kill herself *and* Courtney, the 'do the crime do the time' argument is invalid in this case. And have you ever actually tried making a fuss and appealing for money for proper care for a severely disabled person? I'm guessing not from your offhand suggestion that this was a viable alternative for her.

This case is tragic but its not a case of a parent murdering their disabled offspring to make their own life easier. In this case the mother did value her disabled daughters life and was all too aware of how rare that made her in their society. She must be as broken about her own survival and the loss of her daughter as suicide-surviving mothers who've killed their able bodied little ones for the same 'no one will take good care of them when I'm gone' reasons. Life isnt black and white and jailing this mother serves no purpose and sends no useful message to the able bodied community about the value of disabled people. A better prosecution wouldve been of the familys local area disability services/ council etc who have influence over care/support services and public attitudes.

Megy W. said...

It's very suspicious how she knew how much meds to give her daughter to kill her yet not enough for herself. She needs to get mental help, but in PRISON!

william Peace said...

H. Smith. I disagree completely. If the mother valued her daughter she would not have murdered her. This is simply a no go. Think Ten Commandments. Thou shalt not kill. I state this not as a Christian but as a human being. Never murder a human being. Sending Liltz to prison is entirely appropriate. Indeed, she got off easy when you look at sentencing statistics. What she did, murder, is not an act of love. It is a crime. Would it have been difficult to get help for her severely disabled daughter? Absolutely. Would it have been a huge struggle. Absolutely. This is different line of reasoning and in no way justifies the murder of a human being. We don't live in a black and white world. But regardless of the circumstances you do not kill another human being. To suggest otherwise is to devalue the life of those who have a severe disability.

william Peace said...

Megan, Yes, she needs mental health support in prison.

h smith said...

William I didnt say it was an 'act of love', it was a act of desperation committed by someone in severe mental distress and comparable to mothers who kill their able bodied children in murder-suicide attempts. This mother believed she was dying imminently and was deep in the trauma of that and the terror of leaving her daughter unsupported. She was not 'in her right mind' and our laws and our morality say that matters in terms of culpability for a crime. The discussion should be about the lack of support in every way in this case, for the mother, for her daughter, for the situation. we shouldt be punishing this mother to make a political point that isnt going to be heard by the able bodied community anyway.

william Peace said...

H Smith, Call it what ever you want. Murder is murder. She is a convicted murderer. Look at the ASAN website and their support for the Day of Remembrance. Parents of disabled children murder their children, gain sympathy and receive disproportionately light sentences. This makes a profound social statement about the lives of those with a severe disability. No amount of rationalizing can ever justify murder.

Eliseo Weinstein said...

What a horrible thing to happen to Bonnie Liltz! She has dehydration and possibly an infection, too. I agree with you that receiving comments is one of the many benefits to having a blog. It is a great avenue to learn new things by sharing resources and information, such as the case of Bonnie Liltz.

Eliseo Weinstein @ JR's Bail Bonds

william Peace said...

Eliseo, I take no pleasure in stating Bonnie Liltz is exactly where she deserves to be--in the petitionary.