Many people joke about locking up their kids, but for one Wyoming couple, it was no joke. They kept the woman’s 7-year-old son locked in an outdoor cage.
Alexander Smith and Jena Harman were arrested on July 24 after officials responded to a tip that a child was being caged outside their rural home in Laramie. Both the mother and her live-in boyfriend face counts of child abuse and felony restraint. Harman’s case is currently in district court, while Smith’s hearing is still pending.
Albany County deputies estimated the cage’s dimensions to be about six square feet, standing about five feet tall. It was constructed from cattle paneling and plywood. The enclosure was equipped with bare essentials such as a cot, toothbrush, toothpaste and a five-gallon bucket. Authorities said the child admitted living there on and off for three weeks, eating and sleeping in the cage, even during inclement weather. Once in a while the couple would free the boy to use the bathroom. They also fed him periodically.
Exactly why the couple caged the young boy remains unclear. However, Smith said that even though he wasn’t fond of the child, he felt that keeping the boy in the cage would ensure the 7-year-old’s safety. Heaven only knows what danger awaited the child outside of the cage.
Sadly, this isn’t the first reported incident at this household. Since August 2013, police have responded to several reports of neglect and abuse from concerned neighbors and teachers, yet no charges were filed.
If convicted, the couple could face up to 40 years in their own personal cages.
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Smith stated the boy was kept in a cage for his own safety.