Justice lacking in car deaths

Published 9:58 am Thursday, May 26, 2016

A 25-year-old Mississippi man was released from jail Tuesday and his second-degree murder charge could be reduced following the death of his young daughter.

Joshua Blunt was jailed after Shania Caradine, his daughter, was left in her father’s car outside a restaurant in Grenada last week. A similar situation in Madison resulted in no charges. Two-year-old Caroline Bryant was found dead May 11 in the back seat of her mother’s car after the mother forgot to drop her off that morning at a child care facility in Gluckstadt, AP reported.

Blunt is a black male. Bryant’s mother is a white female.

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It’s not uncommon for differing charges in these situations, and it largely depends on the district attorney in each area to decide if charges are brought. If Mississippi had a law that specifically addressed leaving children unattended in vehicles, this could be avoided.

Janette Fennell, founder and president of the Kansas-based KidsAndCars.Org, said that between 1990 and 2015, charges were brought in 45.5 percent of cases involving the deaths of children in hot cars in the U.S., AP reported.

Some states have laws that address unattended children in vehicles, while others simply bring charges if a child dies as a result.

Hot-vehicle deaths are tragic accidents, but a life is still lost. The idea that a parent or guardian has suffered enough is not a valid argument for not bringing charges.  One could easily argue that leaving a child unattended in a vehicle is culpable negligence.

We’ve advocated for a law that specifically addresses these instances, but the inconsistency surrounding these two recent cases continues to highlight the need for it. Why should a black man face a second-degree murder charge when a white woman does not?

Mississippi must do better.