… difficult cases make bad law, get ready for some more awful law(s) in the lawyer-saturated District of Columbia.

The case in question is a grisly one. Last week a woman was found living with the corpses of her four dead daughters. The wheels of justice turn slowly, but will eventually determine whether Banita Jacks was guilty of the crime and, if so, what her punishment ought to be.

It would be tempting to dismiss this case as one of those awful things that happen from time to time. But there’s a larger lesson here, too. This case provides an indictment of the liberal welfare state.

The District of Columbia is perhaps the most liberal municipality in the nation. People there depend on “the government” to keep them “safe.”

Last year, for example, Mayor Adrian Fenty defended D.C.’s restrictive handgun laws (which are under review at the Supreme Court) by claiming, “The residents of this city have relied on these handgun laws for 30 years to help keep them safe, and I will continue to work to keep these laws in place for their protection.”

Some 180 people were murdered in D.C. last year, out of a population of just more than 580,000. Scholars have ways of explaining the high murder rate, but one thing’s for certain: The restrictive gun laws haven’t protected people.

According to Saturday’s Washington Post/a>, the government also failed in the Jacks murder case. “Five government agencies had contact with Banita Jacksin the months leading up to the deaths of her four daughters,” the paper reports. None of them were able to protect the girls, and in fact, at least one was completely unconcerned with anyone’s welfare.

Perhaps the most egregious failure noted in the Post came when “a nurse at George Washington University Hospital called the Child and Family Services Agency’s hotline to report that the family was living in a van. But the hotline worker immediately closed the case because the family had no fixed address.”

Imagine that: A family “living in a van” has “no fixed address.” So a social worker decides there’s no case. Why bother having an extensive (and expensive) social welfare system if this is the best it can do? But never fear — D.C.’s government is on the case. “We have already investigated that as an incident that was not handled properly,” Mayor Fenty told reporters.

A gambling person might wager that nobody has been fired because of this incident, and that nobody will be. However, it’s also a safe bet that D.C. will use the case to explain the “need” for a bunch of new social agencies, which will supposedly succeed where the five involved in the Jacks case failed.