Ý ....behind the scenes
Juvenile Justice is an informative web site designed to EDUCATE people of the injustices befalling children and the adults they become, by our own penal system. Our intent is to INFORM the population of one such injustice and to eventually help guide those interested to other sites, directories, and organizations based on correcting or at least illuminating these problems. We encourage everyone to take the time to examine this site and the links contained within and consider it's implications.Ý
Meet Jerry Mooney. Jerry's Case is the heart of this site.
To see a picture of Jerry Mooney, log onto the site from which this came which is http://www.geocities.com/jmvk2000/
This Picture is from SPIN magazine's October 1998 article called BURIED ALIVE: A TEEN ON DEATH ROW
By: MARK SCHONE. The Photo was taken By: TOSHI KAZAMA. You may examine this article through the SPIN link under the LINK DIRECTORY.
Nip violence and crime in the bud... prevent child abuse
From the Beginning ...
Where to start? From the beginning I guess. The beginning for me, is when I met Jerry Mooney, in the fall of 1999. So who am I? My name is Valerie Kristof, I'm 31 years old, and a junior at Penn State University, majoring in Human Development and Family Services (H.D.F.S.). I met Jerry by applying to write to him on the pen-pal site for Oklahoma's Death Row inmates. Why? That's a question I cannot answer to this day, other than to say I am a Psych major at heart and terminally fascinated by people. But that was only my motivation for a hot second! Enough about me.
I learned about Jerry, his life, and his case very quickly. I was fascinated and horrified. Our first few months of letters were like a solid, almost liquid torrent of emotion. Jerry never really had anyone to trust before, someone who he could really believe gave a damn. I gave him that in time, he was compelled to trust me. We are connected like that. Jerry's life reads like a tragedy of mountainous proportions. Much of it is readable, without making Jerry relive it by writing it out once more, but much of it he did write out for me. Too much of that is tangible pain and horror stories more graphic that what I can talk about here. You don't want to know, trust me on this.
I have over 600 pages of Child Services Division records from the State of Oregon where he grew up. He sent them to me with a request that they be made available to my classmates, and the future Penn State H.D.F.S. students. He weeded out certain portions (some 200 odd pages) that he is not comfortable sharing with anyone. The most painful part of that is that he actually feels shame and embarrassment at what was done to him, only now. He didn't even know how horrid it all was and he lived through it. He was kicked, beaten, abused, neglected, and tortured. When he discovered it was not "normal" he then learned shame. You won't hear any crying or "defense" from Jerry Mooney though....believe me....if anyone would hear that it would be me, and it just doesn't happen. That is not who he is. He is strong, proud, humble, haunted and tortured. Jerry is amazing. I am blessed to know him.
On this web site I plan to post an article that was written about him, and his case in "Spin" magazine. I will also provide a link to information on the Pulitzer Prize nominated book "Ghost from the Nursery: tracing the roots of violence" that was written with him as it's "poster boy". I need to tell you a bit more about that. Robin Karr-Morse and Meredith Wiley set out to write a book about child brain development and the effects of neglect, abuse, and other contributing factors, from the use of drugs in-utero, to paternal absenteeism. They wanted to illustrate that having two or more factors stacks the odds against children. They found, and used Jerry as the preface or "illustration" to each chapter, because sadly he fit the bill in every single case. He had all the contributing factors at once!
Now I need to address a few very important issues in this introduction. First and foremost I need to acknowledge to you, for myself, and also giving Jerry voice that along with the fact that Jerry has had a horrible life, he also took part in a horrible thing. I recently read an article in a major U.S. newspaper about third party internet sites for prisoners. This article was scathing in it's criticism of people NOT in prison helping those that ARE by building web sites based around looking for pen-pals and support. They spoke of some of these sites presenting "bad men" as soft cushy cuddly guys who just really need a friend. This article infuriated me because it gave the very clear message that if the person is in prison he is then ipso facto a "bad man" and should not be allowed to cultivate friendships or touch lives. Can they not see there could be value in the "don't make the same mistakes I did" aspect?
But that is another topic for further down this page. The point to my mentioning this is this....this web site will be built and decorated to reflect who Jerry is. I will not compromise in that. I contemplated changing the whole design, because indeed my site does include pretty backgrounds that reflect the mood of the poetry he has written (some reflect feelings that aren't so pretty). It is designed with his favorite colors in mind. It includes some of my favorite pictures of him. The purpose in the design is to reflect Jerry to you. I will not compromise in that. I thought about it, but I won't.
Now the purpose here? It is not for pen-pals, although any new friends are welcome in Jerry's book. The purpose is this. To create awareness! There is a whole lot of "tough on crime" mentality in this country today. They are pushing to give death sentences to 14 and 15 year old children! Jerry was 16 at the time of his crime. Many states are on the other hand calling for moratoriums against the death penalty. Most of the rest of the civilized world thinks we are barbaric! The Pope called for a moratorium a few years back prompted by the execution of Sean Sellers in Oklahoma. Oklahomas' Governor Keating said the Pope was wrong!
I have included some excerpts from the trial transcripts of Mike Cleavenger, Jerry's Child Services caseworker speaking on the stand about Jerry's life. It's not just Jerry, it happens all the time! An angry, abused, and neglected child hurts, because they were hurt! How many people in prison were failed BY the system and society before they, in turn, failed? What should we do? Turn them loose so they can drive the recidivism rate further through the roof? No! That is not the answer, but the current system is not working either! Children, getting younger and younger every day, are taken from violent or neglectful home situations, and placed into the penal system which is only a magnified x 1000 reflection of what caused them to have problems in the first place. Prison's do not make things better, and they don't serve as a wake-up call. Prison's only make matters worse, if these angry hurting people are eventually going to be returned to society, then they are going to return MORE angry, in MORE pain!
What is the answer? I don't know, but I know in Jerry's case and many others, that it isn't fair! He grew up in hell, and now he lives there, quite literally. People say there comes a time in a persons life, even given negative influence by family and surroundings, that a person should realize that what they come from isn't what they have to be. They can break "cycles" and make a choice. It all comes down to CHOICE, doesn't it? At what age does this epiphany of CHOICE occur? Can we expect it from a 16 year old? An 18 year old? A 14 year old? For Jerry it didn't come until it was too late.
The psychological debate of "nature vs. nurture" wages on, and everyone acknowledges that the answer is BOTH. So, how can we lower the bar further? 16 is bad enough! How can anyone say there is no value in a person's life from this point on; when the person is only 16? Can you even remember when you were 16? Can you remember the mentality? If so, you know it wasn't close to being fully developed!
Jerry is a very different person today than he was at 16. He's 24 now, and has virtually no contact with most of his family. His adopted family of myself, Robin, and Meredith are there for him. He is no danger to society, he never really was despite his crime. It sounds so weak and trite to say he didn't mean it, but again, I will not compromise who he is. You don't have to take my word for it, there are others here to back me up. You can think I am crazy; that's okay too. All I need for you to get from this site is a glimpse into this world of juvenile "justice." Please understand that because a person does a bad thing, does not a bad person make.
Jerry received the death penalty at 16; his sentence was modified to life without possibility of parole; that means just what it says. I have included a link providing the modification decision. In that document you will find that much of the reason for the harshness of his sentence hinged on a liar he was celled with, that used testifying against Jerry to get himself transferred to a more desirable location. He said his motive was that his grandfather had been murdered in a similar crime, and this compelled him to testify against Jerry. His grandfather at last count was alive and well! Because of this he lived for years in the shadow of approaching execution. The courts took note of this enough to lessen his sentence, but not to grant him a new trial, even though, the jury was almost solely educated as to "who is Jerry Mooney?" from this man.
Jerry had no guidance at trial. He was tried as an adult, so what he decided went. He was too young to make these decisions. He literally helped the prosecution along, in a misguided attempt to protect his sister, his "babygirl."Jerry's little sister Aimee was literally, in his mind, his child. He had always taken care of the "babygirl!" It was his job! It was big brother's job to take care of her; it always had been. When she was hungry big brother would climb the sink to rinse out a bottle and make her a fresh one. That is what big brothers do. I say all that for this reason; very recently big brother hadn't done a very good job, at least in his mind.Jerry had been as powerless to protect her as himself recently.
I say all of this because you won't hear it from Jerry, and that is not by design. This is all public record, I have the Child Services Division transcripts, starting when Jerry was two. I gave him free rein with his letter "Jerry Speaks" on a link in this site. I told him this was his shot, and to say whatever he needed to say. What is posted here is verbatim of what he wrote to me to say to you, and that, to me speaks most clearly as to who "Jerry Mooney" is. His lawyers, all public defenders, fought long and hard to win him a new trial. They all believe in him! Everyone who knows him believes in him! But it doesn't matter.
So now, what is there to do? Well, Jerry having a shot at life would be a nice start, but unfortunately that will probably never happen. The world feels he used up his shot, no matter how handicapped he was, at the age of 16. So what is left for him now? Can there be purpose and meaning to a life behind bars? I hope so. I am devoted to making sure that if it is possible, he will have it! The rest of the world may not care, even much of his family may not care, at least not enough to put any real effort into making it happen for him or just supporting and loving him through this life without possibility of parole. But I DO! God has given him lots of lemons, and very little to sweeten the deal. So, I tell him we are going to make lemonade! Lot's of it! What else can we do, but give back lemonade and hope God is pleased.
There are a few ways to do this. First Jerry would deeply love, and be so fulfilled by, being able to make a difference in other "little Jerry's" lives. He would like to be involved in "Scared Straight" a program that brings juveniles into prisons for a wake-up call. This is the place to weed out the ones who truly are "little Jerry's" that need serious help and support, not just a good scare. The "Scared Straight" program is a great foundation, but it needs refined. There are huge gaps and inconsistencies in the current system that need to be addressed.
Just as important as that to me is the fact that Jerry deserves meaning and a purpose for his pain, and his life! So he and I are going to make LEMONADE! Lot's and lot's of lemonade.......
love and light,
Defense Attorney: Ms. Wallace
On the stand: Mike Cleavenger, Jerry's Child Services Division worker
Q: (Ms. Wallace) Mr. Cleavenger, during your investigation as to allegations of abuse of Mr. Mooney, were you able to do-- to determine what the background of Mr. Mooney was?
Q: And can you tell the court and jury, if you will, what you found in the background investigation?
A: Yes, I can. The first time I was assigned to this case was February of 1989, and I have been the caretaker of this case and the only caseworker since that time. I compiled all of the information that was available through our partners, the juvenile department and law enforcement and what have you all the way back to 1978, which is where I will begin. In November of 1978, Ida, who is the--Jerry's mother, came to Children's Services Division requesting housing and child care. Jerry was two years old at the time, two years and one month, and she was seven and a half months pregnant. She was requesting services because of what she described as regressive behavior on Jerry's part. She was having trouble with discipline. She could not budget. She was not able to provide a home. The file is a little unclear; however, no services were provided and no services were completed. In October of 1979, there was an ambulance call where Ida was--informed the ambulance attendants that she could not take care of her children. At that time Jerry was three and Aimee was eight months old. She was very depressed. There were massive flies in the home, garbage throughout, dog feces on the floor. She complained of domestic violence with Harry, the father of the children. She complained that Harry was physically abusive with the children. The three kids were placed in shelter care.
Q: And what was the disposition of that referral in Oct. of 1979?
A: The disposition is that the children were placed in shelter care, in foster home. The father, Harry, was not willing or not able to accept any responsibility for these children. Ida voluntarily committed herself to the Oregon State Mental Hospital. She was there for one week. Described or found to be stable and fit to regain, resume parenting her children. The children were returned to her care November the 23rd, which was exactly one month. They spent one month in foster care.
Q: What was the next contact that Jerry Mooney had with Child Protective Services?
A: One month later a psychological was completed. One month after that, the case was declared a permanent planning case.
Q: Okay, let me stop you right there and ask you, if you will, to describe for the court and the jury what permanent planning means in the state of Oregon?
A: Permanent planning means that the case is identified as a high risk case. The case is identified as a case that needs a plan that either successfully reunites the child with the parent, a family member. Or if that can't be accomplished, then the case would move on to a termination of parental rights.
Q: And was that accomplished in this case?
Q: And why is that?
A: In December of 1980, Ida moved to California. The children remained in foster care at that time.......she was in California until March of 1981, which was approximately four months. She contacted our counterpart in California, a social service agency requesting services through Interstate Compact. She completed some services , but I don't--I do not know what they were. But whatever services she completed, it satisfied the state of California and they recommended that the children be returned to her in the state of California, which was done in March of 1981.
Q: And what is the next contact the State of Oregon had with Jerry and/or his family?
A: December 7th, of 1982, Jerry was 6 years and two months old. Jerry was assaulted by a man described as Ida's sister's boyfriend. It was a physical abuse complaint. We were not able to determine if it was valid or not.
Q: Okay and were the children left with their mother at that time?
A: Yes, they were.
Q: Okay, and did you have any more contact after the December 1982?
Q: When was that?
A: August 16th of 1983, Ida was cited by law enforcement for abandonment or neglect of the children, leaving them for a three day period with a person known to our agency as being extremely neglectful. Jerry at that time was six years and ten months old. Aimee was four years and six months old.
Q: And did anything happen as a result of that?
Q: Were they left with their mother?
Q: Where were they placed?
A: There was a voluntary placement on the mother's part with Mary Allen, the maternal grandmother.
Q: Okay, and what happened next?
A: The next contact we had with Ida was January 2nd of 1985 where Ida came in and asked for services, voluntarily came in and asked for services through Child Services Division. She was trying to obtain parent training and other skills to help her parent the children.
Q: And how old would have Jerry been at that time?
A: Eight years and three months old.
Q: Okay, what is the next contact that the family had with child services?
A:The next day, 1/3 of 1985, there was a abuse and neglect referral alleging that Kenneth Allen was abusive to Jerry and that he was suffering extreme headaches as a result of that abuse.
Q: And Kenneth Allen was--
A: Mary Lee Allen's husband, the maternal grandmother's husband.
Q: Okay, when was the next contact that you had?
A: February 1st, of 1985, legal custody was granted again to Mary Lee Allen, the maternal grandmother. The case was then closed in March of 1985, as there was no services offered to the grandmother and the mother was, to our knowledge, out of the State.
Let me stop a moment right here. There was no contact with Child Services until 1989 after this, the longest stretch thus far. BUT, this is where the worst of the abuse occurred. Did you read this? They went from wanting to make this family a "permanent planning" case to placing them with the maternal grandmother, there were allegations of neglect and abuse there as well, but yet that is where they were placed yet again, with the case being terminated as if all was well. Can you say "slipping through the cracks?" This particular chapter ends with Jerry's grandmother divorcing her husband after allegations of sexual abuse of the children were filed. (Pube [pubic] check) There was no treatment plan suggested or enforced for the children at this point, in spite of the long history of abuse, neglect, and now sexual abuse.
This excerpt pertains to the abuse of Jerry and Aimee Mooney at the hands of his grandmother's subsequent boyfriend. The boyfriend abused Jerry, beating him severely. When Jerry was removed from the home and placed in foster care Aimee claims the boyfriend began sexually abusing her. When Jerry's grandmother Marilee was forced to choose between her boyfriend, and her grandchildren to live in her home, she said it was no choice at all.
Q: And what was the next contact you had with Jerry Mooney?
A: December 4th of 1990, Jerry was fourteen years and two months old. Aimee was eleven years and ten months. At that time, Jerry made a disclosure of physical abuse by the grandmother's twenty-six year old live-in boyfriend.
Q: Okay. Now, by this point in time had Jerry's grandmother and step-grandfather ended their relationship?
Q: Okay. And so did she have a new boyfriend, then?
Q: What was his name?
A: Scott Nathan
Q: Tell the court, and the jury, if you will, the circumstances surrounding the incident that led to the contact in December of 1990?
A: Jerry was cleaning a fish tank in his home. He was corrected by Nathan Scott, or Scott Nathan that he was not cleaning the fish tank properly. He was pushed and in doing so, dropped a -- what is described as a hundred dollar phone into the fish tank. As a result of that, he received approximately eight hittings or kickings in the room and on into his bedroom. He had significant and multiple injuries to his back, low back, shoulder blade and neck as a result of being physically abused by the grandmother's twenty-six year old boyfriend, Scott Nathan. He was removed from the home and placed in shelter care on that date, December 4th of 1990.
At this point Aimee alleges sexual abuse again. This time against Scott Nathan. This, even more than the abuse he had suffered himself, had a profound effect on Jerry. When Mike Cleavenger spoke with Jerry about the abuse against Aimee he said Jerry blamed himself, and was very much impacted by the fact that while he was out of the home, she was sexually abused. Jerry said "I should have been there for her. It was my job to protect her. I knew that he was capable of doing that based on how he looked at her. It's my fault that it happened." Later it was discovered that Nathan was H.I.V. positive. The plot thickens, not only does this have ramifications for his sister, but also possibly for Jerry himself. Scott Nathan is the man who taught Jerry about I.V. drug use.
Q: Okay. Do you know how long he was removed from the home?
A: He had been out of the home for six days prior to Aimee's allegations of sexual abuse from the same man.
Q: At this point in time was there an investigation that was conducted?
Q: And were there services that were provided to Jerry at that time?
Q: Why is that?
A: The reason for that--that's a good question. In addition to this sex abuse allegation, at the same time we opened an additional sex abuse allegation where Aimee and a friend were abused-- sexually abused by a male friend of the family over a long period of time. We had--
Q: Let me stop you right there. Without getting into the details of another case that might possibly have involved Aimee, did you and your agency, or other agencies gear their services and their time and efforts in pursuing the other cases, rather than Jerry's case?
Q: Okay. Did these referrals to your agency, on behalf of Jerry cause you some concern?
A: Would you ask me that question again?
Q: I'm not trying to mislead you. Where you concerned about Jerry Mooney as a result of what you knew about him?
Q: And the history?
Q: And were any services provided?
Q: Okay, and why is that?
A: The reason, I'm the only full-time worker for a hundred thousand [100,000] people. We handled almost four hundred cases a year. During that period of time, we were providing cases on a --I guess like a fireman, we were putting out the hottest fire. We were providing services to Aimee, because of what we knew would happen to her, the other children that were involved. We also determined at that time that she had a tumor and needed surgery. We were working on that. We determined that the man that had molested her was H.I.V positive. We were concerned with that. I think that the bottom line is that all the energy, all the services went-- were directed towards Aimee and none were directed towards Jerry.
Q: Is it your opinion that Jerry kind of fell through the cracks of the system in Oregon?
Q: Based on your education, training and experience of this file, have you been able to form an opinion as to the services that were provided to Jerry, whether those services were adequate or sub-standard?
A: It is difficult for me to defend what happened and what didn't happen. At that time, our number of personnel was the same in 1990 that we had in 1980, ten years earlier, with a fifty percent increase in the population. I think that wouldn't happen today. We recognize that we had to do a better job treating the entire family. We have taken many steps over the last few years to keep something like this from happening again.
Q: If this had happened in the last three years what would have been done differently?
A: We now have a kid's center. It's a half a million dollar facility that was built through donations and volunteer services from people in the community. About a hundred professionals got together, all the professionals, the families and the kids are all at one place, including court appointed special advocates, Mental Health, Health Department. The medical unit is all there. It's all the services we need to track these. We have a multi-disciplinary team now in the county made up with professionals in the community. We have high risk cases that are staffed weekly, staffed in the community just to keep this from happening again.
Q: Is there any particular case that occurred in Oregon that resulted in the creation of that center?
question objected to and rephrased
Q: Mr. Cleavenger, was the-- were the events that took place in the Mooney children's life, what happened to them in the State of Oregon's response to the abuse and the impact that was suffered, was that part of the reason for the creation of the center you have today?
A: Yes, and cases like this one.
Q: When you became involved with Jerry Mooney did he ever tell you he would protect his sister at all costs?
By Ms. Wallace: I have nothing further
Defense Attorney: Ms. Wallace
On the stand: Chris Garner, Deschutes County Deputy District Attorney
(prosecuted Scott Nathan)
Q: Do you believe in your opinion that more could have been done to provide--- in the way of services or protection to Jerry Mooney?
A: I think for both Jerry more could have been done, and for alot of kids I have worked with.
A: And in fact, in part of my involvement with Jerry and his family, and the really obvious--and we were able to arrest somebody and prosecute someone, but there were alot more issues on the table for this family. And in part, it was sort of a personal incentive for me to start the center for abused children that we have in Bend [Oregon] today.
Q: Okay. And through your education, training, and experience have you been able to gain certain knowledge with regard to children who are abused, either physically or sexually?
A: I've done some pretty extensive reading in the area and some lecturing and I've done alot of testimony in legislature and it's my belief and it's based on a pretty large body of empirical knowledge that children who are victims of abuse, and that's approximately twenty-five percent of our child population, physical, serious abuse, sexual abuse, those children in almost every category of dysfunctional adults have a higher risk than other children of having problems as adults. They represent about fifty percent of our drug and alcohol patients, fifty percent of our mental health patients. A huge number, if not all of our teen prostitutes, studies out of Washington State say sixty percent of our pregnant teens are former victims of abuse. Some prison population studies have figures ranging from forty-eight to sixty percent. Most startling are studies done by Dr. Dorothy Oneil- Lewis that indicates that something like ninety-eight percent of the death row inmates have significant histories of abuse and neglect.
Q: Mr. Gardner, When you became aware that Jerry Mooney had been charged here in Oklahoma with murder in the first degree, were you surprised?
A: I had hoped for better for Jerry. But in seven, eight years of prosecuting child abuse cases, this is one that every turn it just seemed the worst was happening to these kids, and I don't know if he ever had a chance.
Q: I'm sorry. What was that last statement?
A: I just don't know if this kid ever had a chance to sort of break out of the cycle that he was caught up in in terms of the adults in his life, what was happening to his sister, what were available resources for him. One of the things these studies indicated --
Chris Gardner was cut off there, and then asked to complete his thought. He went on to say in a nutshell that studies show that abused children can overcome their pasts, with one constant. A loving and supportive adult involved in their lives. He testified that in his opinion Jerry did not have that resource available to him. His mother loved him but "her competence to be an appropriate parent, particularly given the extra problems that the child has had experiences like his, I just don't believe she was capable." Mr. Gardner testified in addition, when asked, that not only was Jerry's grandmother not available in this capacity either, but she was actually lined up on the other end of the equation.
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