Friday, December 16, 2005

The never-ending lawsuit

Alabama's child welfare system has been subject to a federal consent decree since 1991, and things will remain that way well into 2006 after U.S. District Judge Ira DeMent revealed Thursday that he will postpone his decision on whether to dismiss the case.

DeMent is set to receive a report by Feb. 28 on whether the Department of Human Resources now complies with the decree issued as a result of the R.C. litigation that began in 1988 and subsequently will rule on the dismissal motion. The decree, among other things, required DHR to offer better services to foster children and parents and to limit social workers' caseloads.

A decade and a half might seem like a long time for the state to face litigation seeking to get it to do its job correctly, but that's nothing compared to Knight v. Alabama, the college desegregation case that will celebrate its silver anniversary next year.

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