Saturday, June 14, 2008

Investigation Needed in Polygamous Case

An analysis of state records by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reveals a price tag of over $14 million for the raid on the polygamous community in El Dorado, Texas. Some bills for child care services provided by private charitable organizations have yet to be submitted.

Over $5.5 million of that total went to legal fees and expenses. The newspaper's examination of e-mails does show that state workers labored to keep costs down by, for example, staying at moderately priced hotels and requesting permission before renting cars or extending stays.

A spokesman for Governor Rick Perry defends the cost of the raid, saying, "Any action taken to protect children is never misguided." One hopes that they have a better defense than that. While actions taken to protect children are laudable, in a world of finite resources choices have to be made as to what actions might be effective. Given that the children have all been returned to their allegedly abusive families, it is questionable to what extent the state's action has done anything to "protect children."

That is unfortunate, given that many of these children likely really do need protection. One can debate whether the state's action was flawed in its execution or misguided from the start. Whichever is the case, mistakes were clearly made -- expensive mistakes that affected lives. There should be an investigation of the whole affair.

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