SACRAMENTO -- In the 19 days he lived, baby Justice Rees faced a lifetime worth of adversity.
He was born into neonatal intensive care because doctors suspected there was methamphetamine in his system, born to parents who both failed drug tests, and killed in a cold Yolo County Slough where his mother, Samantha Green, had taken him in a bizarre meth-induced frenzy, according to prosecutors, to find Frank Rees, Justice's father.
"You don't put a baby who's been born addicted to meth in the hands of meth-addicted parents, based purely on their word and the word of the grandparents that they're going to do better. That's not a safety plan," said Ed Howard.
Howard is senior counsel for the Children's Advocacy Group. He was instrumental in passing the California law that required Yolo County's Child Protective Services to release its records in the Justice Rees case.
Those records show that, while baby Justice was still in intensive care, his mother Samantha Green would sneak out of the hospital and come back apparently intoxicated. The records show that both the baby's parents, Samantha Green and Frank Rees, were testing positive for narcotics.
But those records also show that social workers decided to let his parents take Justice Rees home and be responsible for his short, 19-day life.
"Based purely on their word that they would do better? That's, from these documents, the only assurance that baby Justice had. And it cost him his life and caused all of us in the community great shame,” Howard said.
The records released by Yolo County CPS indicate that once baby Justice went home, there was no follow-up to ensure his parents were getting drug testing or treatment -- not until more than two weeks later, and only then after family members called police to say Samantha Green had stolen their car.
They never saw baby Justice alive again.
It’s important to note that Yolo County Child Protective Services hasn’t yet commented on the documents released Thursday. They told FOX40 they were not ready to answer questions about those records. FOX40 is working now to get their input on the decision to let Justice Rees remain in the care of his parents.