Upon learning that a woman accused of getting her daughter hooked on drugs was being visited by the girl in jail, Snyder County District Judge Lori Hackenberg immediately pledged to end the visits.
Children and Youth staff said that even if a parent is incarcerated, in most cases, the agency has an obligation to allow parents to see their children. In situations where a parent is accused of a crime, the visits are supervised, no physical contact is allowed, and they are not permitted to discuss the offense, Weir said.
The sticky part of Brandi Lyn Baumgardner's situation is that she is in jail because she put her daughter in danger by teaching the girl how to use drugs.
Baumgardner's daughter is one of her victims. Allowing her to continue seeing the girl would make as much sense as allowing Jerry Sandusky to continue contacting the boys who allege he abused them.
Baumgardner and the girl were separated only after another juvenile almost lost his life to a drug overdose that allegedly happened after Baumgardner had allegedly coached him into breaking into a home to steal prescription drugs. After Baumgardner's arrest for her role in the 2010 break-in, her daughter was sent to a residential treatment center in Lycoming County. There, the girl shared her harrowing story: telling police and caseworkers that after she started using drugs with her mom at the age of 12 and that over the next two years, she graduated from marijuana to crack cocaine, prescription pills and heroin. She told police that her mom had injected her with drugs as many as 200 times.
Snyder County District Attorney Mike Piecuch said he will work to revise the rules to eliminate the need for a court order to prevent children from visiting incarcerated parents accused of mistreating them.
Rose Weir, the head of Children and Youth in Snyder County said that children of incarcerated individuals are usually allowed to continue seeing their parents because it is considered better for the child. The visits help the children adjust to the separation caused by the arrest of the parent. In cases where the visits are considered emotionally damaging, county officials can go to court to end the visits. In cases where the parent is accused of committing a crime against the child, that is backward. There should be no visits until prosecutors, caseworkers and other stakeholders agree that the encounter will not harm the child or interfere with efforts to hold parents accountable for their actions.