Banita Jacks: D.C. approves $2.6 million settlement

(AP/ABC7) - Washington has agreed to a $2.6 million settlement to the heirs of four children who were killed in 2007 by their mother, who had kept them prisoner and starved them.

"I don't think the city should award the grandparents, or anybody in particular, that amount of money," says Laniyra Green of D.C.

The incident involving Banita Jacks' daughters horrified the city and led to accusations that multiple agencies, including the schools, court system and police, failed to protect the girls. The city fired several social workers for failing to follow up on complaints from schools that might have prevented some of the children's deaths, though one grandmother, Mamie Jacks, admitted in court she had neither seen nor heard from the children in two years.

“The settlement of this case ends a tragic story that stretches back six years,” said D.C. Attorney General Irvin Nathan in a statement. “The District’s handling of child abuse reports has improved significantly since the grievous deaths of Banita Jacks’ children.”

The bodies of the girls, ages 5 to 16, were found decomposing in January 2008 in Jacks' rowhouse. Jacks was sentenced to 120 years in prison for killing the girls.

The settlement, announced Friday by the D.C. Office of the Attorney General, includes payments to the estates of the four girls.

Officials say $260,000 must be donated to Safe Shores, a charity devoted to abused and neglected children.

The city denied liability. In a statement, Nathan said the city settled to avoid "uncertainty" in the case and to help bring closure to the Jacks family.

"I wanted D.C. to admit they were wrong, that things were mishandled," says Norman Penn, 16 year old Brittany Jack's father.

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