Mother Faces Ten Years In Jail For Letting Child Play Alone In Park

Following up on the case of Debra Harrell, which I mentioned in terms of Democrats being all for parents sending their children from Honduras, Guatemala, and other Central American nations

(ABC News) Plenty of working parents can relate to the dilemma Debra Harrell faced when her 9-year-old daughter asked to play unsupervised in a park this summer. How do you find the time and money for child care when school is out?

Harrell’s answer to that question got her arrested. She spent 17 days in jail, temporarily lost custody of her girl, thought she lost her job, and still faces 10 years in prison if convicted of felony child neglect.

The decision of this 46-year-old single mother and McDonald’s shift manager has been picked apart since police were called when Regina was spotted alone in the park.

Unbelievable. 17 days in jail. A potential 10 year jail term. I forget who it was, but someone on Twitter mentioned that in their day virtually every parent, including their own, would be arrested for this. When I was 9, I was running around the neighborhood, usually with my friends. We’d be riding bikes in the woods. We’d head down to the pond, or maybe off to the river. The local park. The library.  This is similar to so many stories in the ABC comments.

But some of their neighbors tell The Associated Press that Harrell shouldn’t be vilified, because many nearby families also leave their kids at Summerfield Park. In the South Carolina summer, the park has obvious appeal to kids: there’s cool water on a splash pad, a playground and basketball courts, and a volunteer comes by with a free breakfast and lunch. Plenty of friends and some parents and caretakers also are around to keep an eye on things, they say.

“Her child is not the only one at that park without a parent. There are children all over this neighborhood. They hold the feed-a-child program. There’s that splash pad too,” said Angelina Scott, who lives one street over from Harrell and has a daughter in the same grade as Regina.

I certainly understand the concern of Authorities and some people in terms of leaving the girl alone for hours at a time. But, if she’s hanging at the park with lots of others, the danger should be minimized. But, let’s go back to the original article

Here are the facts: Debra Harrell works at McDonald’s in North Augusta, South Carolina. For most of the summer, her daughter had stayed there with her, playing on a laptop that Harrell had scrounged up the money to purchase. (McDonald’s has free WiFi.) Sadly, the Harrell home was robbed and the laptop stolen, so the girl asked her mother if she could be dropped off at the park to play instead.

Harrell said yes. She gave her daughter a cell phone. The girl went to the park—a place so popular that at any given time there are about 40 kids frolicking—two days in a row. There were swings, a “splash pad,” and shade. On her third day at the park, an adult asked the girl where her mother was. At work, the daughter replied.

So, this wasn’t exactly something that was being done every day. Most days, Harrell’s daughter was hanging with her at McDonald’s. This was an exception. Funny how we’re not cool with allowing a child to head to the park alone and have to vilify the mother, with a potential jail term looming, but, everything is fine when it comes to illegal aliens.

Crossed at Right Wing News.

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4 Responses to “Mother Faces Ten Years In Jail For Letting Child Play Alone In Park”

  1. Jeffery says:


    I agree with you 100% on this. It seems the SC law allows significant leeway for the courts – but someone made the choice to throw the struggling 46 year old single mother, and McDonald’s shift manager in jail.

    According to the Census, some 40 million American households earn less than $30,000 per year. The average number of earners in each of these households is 1, that is, single people, single parents. Shift managers at McDonald’s make less than $10/hour or $20,000/year. Rent, insurance, utilities, transportation, food, healthcare, childcare, clothing… how could anyone make ends meet?

    So someone working full-time, doing the best she can to care for her daughter, ends up in jail for it???

  2. It is a damn shame. Unfortunately, it also seems to be a trend in society to overreact. In my day, we’d sit on our parents laps and “drive”. We’d hang in the truck of the wagon. Sure, not always safe. I fell out of the back when mom was driving once, latch failed to engage. Taken to hospital. Nowadays, mom would have been reported to police and jailed.

    It would be great if this mom had other options. The police have overreacted.

  3. Trish Mac says:

    This is horrible Teach, and there had better be some lawyer- pro bono- busting his a$$ to fix it.
    What is really sad is that she is exactly the kind of good parent we should applaud-who is doing her best to make hers and her daughters lives better. And this is what happens to her?
    God help us.

  4. John says:

    That area is 75% white and a conservative GOP stronghold
    Did you see George Will’s comment about the INVASION!!! by 70000 kids ? He pointed out that there are 3000 counties in the USA and that works out to 22 kids in each county

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