SOURCE: The Post and Courier – February 7, 2017, Andrew Knapp  |  Read entire article

When does a parenting mistake become a crime worth punishing with prison time?

It’s a question posed often by officials who consider cases of children forgotten in cars, left home alone, ignored in backyards.

Authorities pondered it for nearly five years in the April 2012 death of 2-month-old Aiden McGrew, who was mauled by a family dog as his father slept in their Dorchester County home.

But a judge last month decided not to imprison Quintin McGrew, 33, when he pleaded guilty to unlawful conduct toward a child. The felony will forever stain his record, but with probation as his penalty, he will stay at home to continue caring for his family of four.

McGrew’s attorney had become his advocate free of charge, hoping to show how social circumstances contributed to the boy’s gruesome death. More importantly, lawyer Andy Savage said, it was McGrew’s opportunity to break a cycle leading to the tragedy that captured headlines worldwide.

“It clearly was a case that arose from poverty and uninformed parenthood. It wasn’t some wanton, willful act of neglect,” Savage said. “It was a mistake, but do you put someone like that in jail to teach them a lesson? I’m 100 percent against that.”

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SOURCE: The Post and Courier