Update on the Four N.J. Starved Brothers: Why is Bruce Jackson Being Kept from Seeing His Brothers?
Oprah said on the show that Bruce Jackson sent his love to the three boys who were his brothers in that awful house of starvation and want in New Jersey. But that was the first time that the brothers and their adoptive parents may have heard from Bruce–understandably from a third- or fourth-party–in four years. There has been something consistently wrong with this picture. Ever since the trial, he has hardly been seen or heard about, not just by the media, but by his brothers. Why? This is the story behind the story on Oprah this week that I have found below.
From the Daily Record, dated April 12:
Officials with Disability Rights of New Jersey, part of a nationwide network of watchdog agencies, said they are investigating claims Bruce Jackson’s brothers have not been able to contact him.
Jackson is living at a group home for developmentally disabled children in Gloucester County. The other three boys were adopted by James and Amber Parrish in Millville.
“We’re looking into the allegation that the family wants to have contact with him and he wishes to have contact with them and someone is preventing that from happening,” said Joe Young, executive director of the organization. “We need to actually find out what the facts are.”
Young said the organization has contacted the state Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Guardianship Services to inquire about Jackson.
“He’s been appointed a state guardian,” Young said. “We’ve started the process, but it doesn’t happen very quickly. This is not your run-of-the-mill situation. Our goal is to determine and respect the wishes of the individual.”
Jackson and his brothers made headlines in 2003 when they were found to be severely underweight.
The Philadelphia Inquirer, in a related story on April 7, said this:
Cut off from his brothers, Bruce, 26, now lives in a state-supervised group home for the developmentally disabled in Gloucester County. Some say he is lonely and feels lost.
“They won’t even let us talk to him,” his brother Terrell Parrish, 16, formerly known as Tyrone Jackson, said last month. “They got him guarded like the president.”
Bruce’s welfare is a well-protected secret. Requests to interview him were rebuffed by Michael Critchley Sr., a West Orange criminal lawyer, who has represented many high-profile clients.
Soon after Bruce was taken from the Jackson home, he was judged incompetent, and Critchley was appointed his legal adviser. Critchley has said in past interviews that Bruce needed placement in a home because he could not live alone and was having difficulties living “a normal existence.” The lawyer has waived his fees, but is reimbursed for his expenses, according to court documents.
A state guardian in the Department of Human Services was given control over day-to-day decisions pertaining to Bruce’s well-being.
In 2005, Bruce received a $5 million out-of-court settlement from the state because its social workers had overlooked his emaciated condition during home visits. His brothers each got $1.8 million in trust funds.
Critchley was quoted at the time as saying Bruce might someday want to use that money to buy a house and hire a staff to look after him. But in recent weeks, when asked why that had not happened, Critchley has cited “privacy issues.”
I’d look into that Critchley fellow. And the state guardian. And the state agency. There is something wrong here. Bruce Jackson does not have an independent life, though he is of age. With two trustworthy attendants, he could lead a normal life, along with continuing therapy, medication and education. He could live around the corner from his brothers, and have contact with them and the Parrishes. And I doubt whether he is that incompetent as they say. He stood up in court and testified. He saved his brothers’ lives.
Is he being penalized for dropping the anvil on New Jersey’s social services?
“He should get what he wants,” his brother TreShawn, a Cumberland County College freshman, said a few weeks ago. “He wants a family. He deserves it after what he did for us.”
That day, TreShawn, Michael, and their adoptive father, James Parrish, had spoken briefly to Bruce on the phone. But before Terrell got his turn, a resident adviser got on the line and said Bruce was not permitted to talk with them, Parrish said.
Over the years, Parrish said, the boys have had only a handful of phone conversations with Bruce.
“He’s lonely, and when he calls, he asks if we forgot about him,” Parrish said. “He needs to see his family.”
Time and again, authorities and attendants cut off phone calls, deny or shorten visits, and wave the family away from the young man. Why? I think that the more he is allowed in a normal environment, the more he will be able to deal and interact effectively on his own, among the people who love him.
Could it be that it’s Bruce’s $5 million payday that is the real football here? The attorney for Bruce Jackson, Michael Critchley Sr., handles criminal cases. Criminal cases? Of course, Critchley’s waived his fees, but not his expenses. And that guardian ad litem? Someone unnamed in the Department of Health and Human Services. Weird. Nothing here makes any sense at all.
The last time Bruce visited was in October 2006, but TreShawn was then living in an adoptive home in Texas. The Parrishes have since adopted TreShawn. That fall, Bruce attended Terrell and Michael’s football game, with chaperones. Afterward, the three brothers embraced and caught up, Parrish said. “They were happy to see each other.
Bruce did not act “out of the ordinary” in any way, Parrish said, but he did become upset when the chaperones ruled out plans to go back to the house for pizza.
” ‘If you act like this, you won’t be able to go anywhere,’ ” a chaperone told him, according to Parrish.
Bruce obediently got into the van, Parrish said. It was the last time Parrish saw him.
Jeez. He wants to be with his brothers. This is all kinds of wrong. He’s a young man who barely had a childhood with the Jacksons, and hardly any social interactions with anyone else. He cannot help being childish in this respect. He needs to grow up and enhance his abilities. And not be penalized or forgotten, and left to moulder in a group home.
Save Bruce Jackson. Please.