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“You start out with a lack of due process, a lack of notice of what it is you’re accused of doing,” [Larry James] said. “A lack of adequate preparation. A lack of any rules to govern the process or procedure. So it just lends itself to abuse.” (The System by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian ch 15 “The System at Work” – p. 216)
Larry James is talking about the NCAA enforcement process and the abuse he alludes to shows up in ways such as DeVier Posey being suspended for 10 games during his senior season at Ohio State because he was overpaid by $3 on a summer job (a suspension that would have ended at 5 games if he hadn’t challenged the original accusation that he was overpaid by $727 – double the suspension for being 0.4% guilty). Hopefully Mr. James isn’t personally aware that his statement was also perfectly describing the CPS investigation process.
Lack of due process, lack of notice of what it is you’re accused of doing, and lack of adequate preparation all perfectly describe the situation of any family CPS has been sent to investigate – especially if the accusation CPS is investigating has been wrongly reported. And while there are rules to govern the process in the state code, the accused families rarely have the knowledge or resources to understand those rules and make sure that the rules are being followed and their rights respected. So the CPS investigation process lends itself to abuse every but as much as the NCAA enforcement process does.
The abuse that results from CPS investigations gone wrong can be as extreme as wrenching young children from the care of loving parents who have been accused of some minor wrongdoing. While that is certainly an uncommon outcome the real damage done by CPS is that even when they clear a family who is wrongly accused, their aggressive approach frequently leads to emotional trauma in even good parents and often in the very children they are supposedly being sent to protect.
Both CPS and NCAA enforcement are intended to tackle challenging and important issues within their sphere of responsibility. Unfortunately both seem to be unaware of the damage they do to their important functions because of their lack of due process and their insistence on taking an adversarial, accusatory approach when they begin an investigation while witholding crucial information from those they are investigating. They fail to understand that those who are maliciously guilty of an infraction know what they are guilty of even before they know they are being investigated and thus their defenses are up whether they are informed of the charges against them or not. On the other hand, those who are innocent or who have broken some rule without intending to are likely to become flustered, defensive, and uncooperative when they are aggressively confronted without so much as the dignity of being told what they are accused of doing (which is a basic Sixth Amendment right in this country).