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Wisconsin Woman Who Drowned Son Gets Five Year Prison Term – Negligence in the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare System and La Causa, a private child welfare agency

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network


A mother of a five month old was recently given a five year prison term for drowning her own child in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Arkisha Johnson was brought into a Wisconsin courtroom to receive her sentence. Arkisha Johnson is brought into the courtroom Wednesday for sentencing for drowning her 5-month-old son, Will, last year. This is a tragic story for the mother, child, the family and the community.

Arkisha Johnson was well known to be emotionally troubled by the State of Wisconsin Welfare System. As such, caseworkers knew or should have known that placing any child, especially a 5 month old, in her sole care and custody created a dangerous situation for the child. According to an investigation, caseworkers were aware of Ms. Johnson’s instability and had been instructed not to leave the baby (Will Johnson) with her unless she was stable and taking all of her medications.

During the weeks prior to the drowning death of Will Johnson, Ms. Johnson was increasingly erratic and suicidal. It is unclear from newspaper reports what efforts (if any) the caseworkers took to determine if Ms. Johnson was stable and taking her medications. Of course, the worst thing that a caseworker can do is assume that everything is fine. Based on Ms. Johnson’s troubled history and mental condition, would it be reasonable for a caseworker to assume that the child is in no danger if left alone with this woman? How much time if any was spent interviewing or speaking to Ms. Johnson prior to the fateful day that Ms. Johnson killed her child? What questions were asked?

The case of Will Johnson and other incidents involving other children have called into serious question the conduct, action, policies and procedures of Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare System and La Causa, a private child welfare agency.

In Wisconsin and other states, a test and license are required to operate a motor vehicle on the roadways. Those who fail the test or who do not have a license are not permitted to drive. Parents, on the other hand, do not typically take a test or need a license to have or care for a child. When a parent exhibits behavior or conduct that calls into question his or her ability to parent, Wisconsin and other States have a duty to step in to protect the child. In the case of Will Johnson, it appears that the State of Wisconsin and the La Causa dropped the ball in protecting this child.

You can read more about this story and other problems within the Milwaukee, Wisconsin child welfare system at Milwaukee Woman Gets 5 Year Prison Sentence for Drowning Death of 5 Month Old Son.

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