Concerns over negligent parents getting custody of kids - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Concerns over negligent parents getting custody of kids

(Source: Family/SCSO) (Source: Family/SCSO)

Another toddler was killed in Memphis, and family members said a failure in the system is to blame. It's raising the question about what can be done to make sure no other child is put in the hands of seemingly negligent parents.

Now, a Tennessee lawmaker is pushing for new legislation to make it mandatory for juvenile courts and the Department of Children Services to better communicate, so the courts will be aware of potential negligent parents before granting custody.

"Unless DCS has notice from the courts, then DCS has no clue that there's a custody hearing going on," said state representative G A Hardaway. 

In this latest case, a 3-year-old boy was killed while in his father's custody. Josiah Patterson's father, Terry Patterson, has been charged with first degree murder and aggravated child abuse. 

Patterson was granted custody of the boy last month. The first week Patterson had his son in his care, Josiah died. He is also a convicted felon after pleading guilty twice to statutory rape and has a lengthy criminal past.

"Unfortunately in this case, the court did not have any information from DCS," said Larry Scroggs from Shelby County juvenile court. 

This tragedy comes only three months after 2-year-old Jermyle Campbell died. Police said his mother, Raven Campbell, admitted to placing a mattress over the boy for 20 to 30 minutes. We learned more than 50 emergency calls were made to Jermyle's home.

In both cases, DCS admits they had prior contact with the family, but wouldn't answer any further questions citing privacy laws.

The Family Exchange Center in Memphis reports over 2-million child abuse cases in the city go unreported each year.

If more laws were in place, some said perhaps Josiah and other kids would be alive today. 

Juvenile court officials said they're not required to check someone's background during a child support or custodial case, and in this latest case, recently granted Patterson joint custody of his son after Patterson claimed the boy's mother would smoke weed around their son. 

Juvenile court officials said they're now evaluating their plans when it comes to granting custody. 

State lawmaker G A Hardaway said he plans to file legislation as early as next week. 

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