Participation in government only way for citizens to stop abuse of power

Posted 4/29/21

A mother’s grief. A child’s premature death. Confusion. Insensitive government officials.

These elements are the recipe for heartbreak the world over. They are the foundation of hundreds of …

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Participation in government only way for citizens to stop abuse of power

Posted

A mother’s grief. A child’s premature death. Confusion. Insensitive government officials.

These elements are the recipe for heartbreak the world over. They are the foundation of hundreds of stories that have wrought years of familial grief for generations.

This month, a Robertsdale mother helped to rewrite that ending for her family and others who may come after her.

In July, a law will go into effect requiring medical examiners, through the appropriate law enforcement agency, to notify next of kin when keeping a person’s organs for purposes other than conducting a death investigation.

Her son’s own heart was the catalyst for the legislation. The family learned more than six years after the teen’s death that the doctors who performed the autopsy had kept his heart. That fact was never listed on any paperwork or autopsy report.

And then, those officials chunked it in the trash.

They never offered it to the family for a proper burial. They never let his mother know her son’s heart had been sitting in a laboratory for six years. They never even asked permission for it to sit there.

This mother was told there was nothing she could do. No one she could blame. No one she could charge with a crime. Was it an abuse of power or just the act of callous government officials?

Alabama has no law against keeping organs for research.

Thanks to this local mother, now there is.

It seems like common sense that pieces of a person, the very flesh and blood of our loved ones, are not up for grabs after they die. Their organs are not merely things for government officials to do as they want with.

Until this law was passed, that was the case.

This grieving Robertsdale mother found strength in her loss and charged ahead to make certain that other families would be spared the same grief, confusion, and encounters with insensitive government officials that she did.

Thanks to her, common sense has become law. The fight doesn’t stop here though.

This family’s lengthy journey through the lawmaking process demonstrates how necessary it is for citizens to be engaged in the political process, to know and understand laws and government procedures and to speak up and initiate change when those processes are flawed.

These battles are long and exhausting, but necessary. Without neighbors who are willing to take up the mantle to keep government officials in check, we are all at risk.

We congratulate the Crooks family for pressing on and winning justice for their son Justin and in doing so making Alabama a better place for all. You are an inspiration.