Jamarr’s Promise is the shocking true story of Kristin I. Morris’ fight to protect a nine-year-old child, Jamarr Cruz, that ended in his tragic death and New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS)’s denial of its responsibility in the case.
As a caseworker for DYFS, Kristin helped many children and families; it was her life’s passion. Nine-year-old Jamarr was living with his grandparents after his mother’s boyfriend, Vincent Williams, beat him repeatedly. Jamarr told Kristin it was not safe for him to return home. Kristin urgently tried to keep Jamarr safe with his grandparents, but was told by superiors that Latino children are kept in the home at all costs. This time, the cost was Jamarr Cruz’s life. In 2009 after Jamaar’s return to Omayra Cruz and Vincent Williams, Vincent beat Jamarr to death. Not only did Kristin’s superiors at the DYFS block her efforts to help Jamarr, but when he was killed, they blamed Kristin for his death.
Jamarr’s Promise is a call to end corrupt loyalties in New Jersey’s DYFS. It is a call to protect children from Jamarr’s fate. It is a call for justice for Kristin Morris, who did the right thing and was punished unjustly for it.
My Thoughts and review
With thanks to the publishers Wise Owl Publishing who sent me a review copy of this book all the way across the Atlantic.
This is a very difficult book to review. Kristin I. Morris and Joseph J. Zielinski’s nonfiction memoir, Jamarr’s Promise: A True Story of Corruption, Courage, and Child Welfare, is a heart breaking read about one little boy’s appalling suffering and death at the hands of his abusive stepfather despite his caseworker’s efforts for him not to be returned to the violent household. Afterwards she was blamed for his death.
The book made me cry and my blood boil. Such a sad case but if my blog post here brings awareness of this case and highlights problems within New Jersey’s Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) ) then it’s all to the good.
Sadly this is a worldwide problem, with similar cases reported and repressed by various government child protection agencies. It takes brave caseworkers such as Kristen to bring such cases out into the open and into the public eye.
About the Author
Kristin I. Morris is an activist who volunteers her time with organizations for women, children and families, including Toys for Tots, She’s Got a Name, and Urban Promise. She has been with her husband Benny since she was nineteen and they have four very active children. She always wanted to help people, by working with the church teaching CCD, pro-life club, soup kitchen, and through charity work.
Kristin earned her bachelor’s in Psychology from Rowan University. After school, she began to work as a social worker for the State of New Jersey’s Division of Child Protection and Permanency, formerly Division of Youth and Family Services. As part of the child welfare system, she found herself watching over New Jersey’s most vulnerable citizens: abused children. She was extremely excited and naïve, wanting to save the world. Working in the city of Camden among the people that needed the most help was extremely eye opening, but revealed the corruption of the inner systems of the Division. Jamarr’s Promise is the true story of Kristin’s battle with the State over the murder of a child she tried desperately to save.
Kristin’s dream is to open and run a foster care organization as a safety net for abused children, and to eliminate the politics and hidden agendas of larger organizations.