"Never in a million years did I think our justice system was like this," one mother said. "Never did I think that judges were doing this and getting away with it."
When Miltreda Kress came before family court Judge Lyris Younge, she hoped to explain why the city’s removal of her three minor daughters over allegations of neglect had been a mistake.
What Kress got instead was a stern reprimand — “Do not talk while I’m talking” — when she uttered the word “I.” Kress apologized, and Younge scolded her again for opening her mouth, then refused to allow her to speak at all. Younge barred the Philadelphia mother from seeing her children — then ages 11, 14 and 15 — which lasted close to a year, and Kress felt helpless as they bounced around foster and group homes; it would take another judge to pave the way for her to retain full custody.
Kress’ experience in Younge’s courtroom had unsettled her. Disturbed by her treatment, she said she would sit outside courtroom 5A and approach other parents about their experiences. She was not alone.