Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery doled out a dose of compassion and common sense this morning, deciding not to prosecute Shanesha Taylor.
Taylor's the formerly homeless mother who captured the hearts and minds of America in March when she was arrested after leaving her 2-year-old and 6 month-old sons alone in her SUV while interviewing for a job in Scottsdale.
The details, outlined in a Scottsdale police report, were horrifying. She left them strapped down in their car seats, with the windows cracked open an inch and hot air blowing through the vents. She left the SUV in the noontime sun, with the keys in the ignition and the door unlocked. She left them where she couldn't see them and never checked on them in the hour and nine minutes that she was gone.
The children were discovered when an office worker, headed to lunch, heard their cries. It was 82 degrees that day but police estimate the temperature in the car was 103 degrees by the time the boys were rescued.
It would be a snap to prosecute Taylor. It would also be a big mistake.
The woman needs a job, not a felony record.
And so comes Montgomery's somewhat surprising decision to defer prosecution, provided she gets parenting and substance-abuse classes and sets aside some of the donations that have poured in to help her for future child-care and education expenses.
"This agreement represents a just resolution that appropriately holds the defendant accountable for her actions while also recognizing the best interests of her family," Montgomery said in a release. "The stipulations of this agreement also ensure that pledges of support from members of the public will have a meaningful and positive impact."
Good for him.
Taylor's story is the story of too many mothers and fathers anymore -- people who feel they have no options, people who do all the wrong things for all the right reasons.
Taylor made a grave mistake but thankfully it wasn't a fatal one. She wasn't out partying with her friends or smoking dope with her co-workers. She was trying to get a job so that she could give her children a better life.
Montgomery's decision will not only save the taxpayers the expense of prosecution, it'll save two little boys the heartbreak of an absent mother.