Revisiting the Tale of Banita Jacks: How Unsupported Mothers Fall Through The Cracks

I’ve been getting an uptick in traffic from my original post on Banita Jacks from July. To bring you up to speed, Ms. Jacks is on trial for murdering her four children. Her story could be any woman’s story. An average woman living life, with a career who decides to be a mother, loses her job, gets no help from immediate family or from the father(s) of her children, has a bank pursue foreclosing procedures on her home and she loses it. She was found in her home with their decomposing bodies and claimed they were possessed by demons.

Now the judge wants a review of her competency before sentencing.

Of course there were choices made that may not have ultimately been in her best interest that lead to this deterioration. The bottom line though is that she was failed. Failed by relatives and failed by a system. At the time DC Mayor Adrian Fenty said he wanted to go through the records of every agency that she’d been in contact with to made changes in evaluating at-risk women and children. But as usual actions > talk. He’s since closed low-income child care centers in favor of dog parks! Yeah some people DO care more about their pets than other human beings (children). These are the same organizations that were supposed to be in place to help women like Banita Jacks. That didn’t…and won’t now that he’s gutted them.

If you are a woman with limited resources a true assessment is in order regarding your life choices. Be it getting funding to attend college or a trade school or whether you bring another life into this world know that these programs are all in jeopardy especially in this current economic depression, recession, downturn. I wouldn’t believe any “expert” that claims it has recovered. Maybe for the top 1% but not for the bottom 25%. If you are on your own and surrounded by unreliable people you may find yourself really on your own when you need help the most. Please don’t take on any more burdens. If you are already in a challenging situation try to get help as quickly as possible. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can deal with it on your own.

This poor woman broke under the pressure of not having enough and harmed her children. Meanwhile we’re chasing after the latest idiot male celebrity mocking us or excusing his past crimes committed against us without ever having made amends. Or some of us are acting surprised when we see the violent acts of youths committed against each other when we’ve allowed a savage mentality to flourish and influence them. We need to get our priorities straight.

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4 Replies to “Revisiting the Tale of Banita Jacks: How Unsupported Mothers Fall Through The Cracks”

  1. Ruth: It is tragic and I do not think she should go unpunished. I just don't think she belongs in prison and should be in a psychiatric facility.Borther OMi: You bring up an interesting point. Women like her are being held up for ridicule. They're damned if they do and damned if they don't.

  2. Its a terrible, terrible story that quite honestly, we ALL have to take responsibility for. How many of us know a Banita Jacks whose back is literally against the wall but instead of helping her, we dog her out?

  3. I agree the sympathy aspect is a limited one. I don't know if prison would best serve her but think a mental institution and getting adequate help would. I certainly don't suggest letting her go free. Since Ms. Jacks is refusing an insanity defense she may end up in prison. I suspect she like many others try to replace proper mental health care for praying -- and while that certainly is of benefit it does NOT resolve deep-rooted problems.

  4. It's a really difficult story to read. I feel so much for the woman. She really was failed -- by everyone. Still… I struggle a little with having complete sympathy for her -- after all, she did murder her four children. If a father had done that I would be horrified and angry and think of him as vile. So I don't know. I know I couldn't judge her as I've not been in her shoes. But I totally agree that in no way should all the responsibility for this rests on her. If she is sent down, so should everyone else involved be, from the children's father or fathers who didn't care, to the Mayor who cares more about dogs than children, to the neighbours and relatives who didn't notice or care that anything was wrong…. I wish rather that something positive could come out of this trial, that could stop similar situations from happening again.

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