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Stealing education vs. fighting for fair opportunities

STACY M. BROWN | 3/25/2019, 11:06 a.m.
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Tanya McDowell stands trials for multiple charges. Everipedia.org

“She did not steal to support her habit. She stole an education from the city of Norwalk. Yeah, that’s right. We now send people to prison for theft of an education,” he continued.

McDowell was living by her wits with her kindergarten-age son, spending time where she could, most often in Bridgeport at homeless shelters, according to her testimony.

She expressed that she wanted a better life for her son, so she enrolled him in the Norwalk public schools despite having no real ties to the city.

“When the city found out that it was spending its money educating her boy, it demanded that Ms. McDowell be charged with a crime,” Pattis said. “Norwalk prosecutors, known statewide for an unreasoning mean streak, obliged. She was charged with first-degree larceny.”

At that point, McDowell had become something of a folk heroine and public support rallied behind her.

Then the undercover cops moved in.

“Just who sent them and why they targeted her is as yet unclear. She bought some narcotics, and was then charged as a drug user. Public support for her vanished,” Pattis said.

“Why, the woman self-medicates? A homeless shelter isn’t good enough for her? She struggles being a single mom? Maybe she’s got mental health issues? And what’s this about wanting a better life for her son? Let’s warehouse her.”

He added that McDowell needed help, not a prison bed.

“But Norwalk prosecutors piled on. They would not negotiate a resolution of her separate and distinct cases. No, not these ministers of justice,” Pattis said.

“A woman is sent to prison for wanting a better life for her children. She is doing time for using an illegal drug. Had she drunk herself to death, it would be no crime. Or had she smoked four packs of cigarettes a day to sooth her jangled nerves, no one would care. But the wrong people are profiting from the drugs McDowell used.

“We imprison the sick and call it justice. Now we imprison the homeless looking for something better for their kids.

“Class war? You bet. Ms. McDowell just got sacrificed on the front lines.”