Awful Texas Judge Jails Teenager For Missing School To Care For Siblings
12:02 pm, May 27th | by Lilly ODonnell
In the “reasons never to move to Texas” category, 17-year-old Diane Tran was thrown in jail overnight and charged a $100 fine for missing school after a warning from a judge. This would be excessive even if she were missing school to hang out at a mall, but, in fact, she was busy working two jobs to support her family.
According to local news station KHOU 11 in Houston, Tran’s parents divorced and left town, leaving Tran alone. Her older brother is in college and her baby sister is staying with relatives. Tran works full time at a dry cleaner’s and part time at a wedding venue to support them both, and herself. (I have no idea why the older brother can’t fend for himself, or why the relatives expect a teenager to pay the baby’s way, instead of the parents — but apparently that’s the situation.)
Judge Lanny Moriarty admitted that he wanted to make an example out of Tran, to make other kids think twice about skipping school.
“If you let one run loose, what are you gonna’ do with the rest of ‘em? Let them go too?” he asked. But it seems that if he had done his due diligence, he would have seen that Tran is not at all a good example of a slacker teenager. This girl should have been offered assistance — either in tracking down her parents and demanding financial support, or at least in enrolling in assistance programs like food stamps.
But this story might have a happy ending. Sherry Williams, the KHOU 11 reporter spoke to the judge on the girl’s behalf about reversing his judgement so Tran won’t have a record. He has yet to make a decision.
And the day after the original story aired, KHOU 11 did a follow up about people around the country offering to help Tran, and expressing their outrage over the extreme punishment. Tran’s employer, with whom she’s been living, is setting up a fund in her name for people to contribute to.
Thank goodness for the kindness of strangers, but I hope that in addition, the judge is reprimanded for his failure to examine all of the factors at play, and that Tran’s parents are tracked down and held accountable for the upkeep of at least the baby, if not Tran as well.