Diane Redleaf - "They Took The Kids Last Night" - Bernardine Dohrn

Monday, March 25, 2019 - 6:00pm - 7:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Diane Redleaf

"Pioneering family defender Diane L. Redleaf tells gripping stories of clients caught up in the nightmare of America's child welfare system—a system that unjustly tears families apart based on flawed evidence; race, class, and gender biases; and wrongheaded policies. Her spotlight on parents wrongfully accused of harming their children reveals a critical aspect of the trauma caused by an approach to child welfare centered on investigating the parents rather than supporting families. "They Took the Kids Last Night" is a shocking exposé of the inner workings of an oppressive (or damaging) system and an urgent call for change." ––Richard Wexler

Diane Redleaf discusses They Took The Kids Last Night: How the Child Protection System Puts Families at Risk. She will be joined in conversation by Bernardine Dohrn. A Q&A and signing will follow the discussion.

At 57th Street Books

RSVP HERE (Please note that your RSVP is requested but not required.)

About the book: They Took the Kids Last Night: How the Child Protection System Puts Families at Risk (Praeger, Hardcover – November 2, 2018) by Diane L. Redleaf is a compelling account, the first of its kind by a nationally-known Chicago based family defense lawyer, of what happened to six families whose children were wrongly seized by child protection services. The book vividly illustrates the constitutional balancing act where medicine, family interests, and child safety can clash, in a narrative told by the family’s lawyer. Sadly, the cases the book tells in dramatic detail are not anomalies but part and parcel of a foster care system that every month separates children at 300 times the rate of the separations at the southern border in May 2018. 

About the author: Called “the conscience of the child welfare system” by the DCFS director Jess McDonald, for over three decades, Diane L. Redleaf has been a  pioneering family defense attorney and a passionate advocate for child protection system policies and practices that protect the rights of all families, especially families in underprivileged communities. After she graduated from Stanford Law School in 1979, Diane worked at Legal Assistance Foundation (1979-1996), a public interest firm (Lehrer and Redleaf)(1996-2005), and in 2005 she founded the  Chicago-based Family Defense Center.  In 2016, she expanded her national child welfare reform efforts by founding United Family Advocates, a national bipartisan child protection policy advocacy network. Redleaf has taught at the University of Chicago Law School and Loyola Law School. She has won several awards for her precedent-setting work and leadership including the Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award from her alma mater, Carleton College. Her first book, They Took the Kids Last Night: How the Child Protection System Puts Families at Risk (ABC-Clio, November 2, 2018) recounts stories of families she has represented in her over-three-decades-long career as a family defender. Diane and her husband, mathematics professor Anatoly Libgober, live in Oak Park, Illinois and have two grown children who are pursuing academic careers. 

About the interlocutor: Bernardine Dohrn, activist, academic and children’s and women’s rights advocate, is a retired Associate Clinical Professor at Northwestern University School of Law, where she was the (founding) director of the Children and Family Justice Center for twenty-three years. Dohrn was national leader of SDS and the Weather Underground, and was on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List. Dohrn is an author and co-editor of three books: Race Course: Against White Supremacy (2009) with Bill Ayers; A Century of Juvenile Justice (2002); and Resisting Zero Tolerance: A Handbook for Parents, Teachers and Students (2001). Most recently she has written "In My Lifetime, Young People Have Changed the World: Children as Social Actors" in Diving In, and "The Surprising Role of the CRC in a Non-State Party" in Litigating the Rights of the Child. She is co-editor of Sing A Battle Song: Documents of the Weather Underground, and wrote the introduction to Letters from Young Activists. Dohrn taught women and children’s human rights law at Northwestern, is a visiting professor over ten years at Leiden University faculty of law in the Netherlands and a Lecturer at the University of Chicago.

Event Location: 
57th Street Books
1301 E 57th Street
Chicago, IL 60637