This is a book about how a system designed to help children is instead helping to destroy them. For almost thirty years Patrick Murphy has represented abused and neglected children in court cases at every level of the state and federal judiciary, including the U.S. Supreme Court. He has labored in the trenches of the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. In Wasted, Mr. Murphy charges that the child welfare bureaucracy is stuck in hundred-year-old realities and the politics of the 1960s and 1970s. The concern of state agencies and the courts for family preservation, he argues, has now gone too far. Keeping families together by lavishing public resources on abusive parents who can'¬"t and won'¬"t change their behavior is harming their children. Too many of them are suffering continued abuse, degradation, neglect, injury, even death. The system is sending all the wrong messages, Mr. Murphy insists: struggling poor parents are ignored by the government while abusers get help; confidentiality protects state agencies that make mistakes; a resistance to trans-racial placement and adoption ensures that many African-American children will never find a permanent home. Meanwhile America'¬"s underclass continues to grow and ossify because we refuse to grapple with its racial implications. Wasted pulls no punches in describing the mess, but Mr. Murphy also offers a prescription for fixing what'¬"s broke.
A splendid book.--Msgr. John Egan, DePaul University