Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Unemployed Dads Being Jailed for Non-Payment of Child Support

Parents Face 19th Century-style Punishment for Missing Support PaymentsBy: Lynnel H. Bott, Your Black World

Impoverished and can’t meet your child support obligations?  Tough luck, you’re going to jail.

Just like the notorious days of the 19th Century debtor prisons, thousands of parents across the country who fail to pay court-ordered support for their children are facing jail time --- most for purposely or spitefully withholding or hiding cash.

Unfortunately, according to advocates for the poor, other parents are being jailed wrongfully with no consideration for their actual ability to pay, and often these truly poor parents have no lawyer to represent them.

In Floyd County, Georgia, a 39-year-old war vet found himself incapable of paying support last November and was sent to jail for violating a court order.  The judge completely disregarded his history of making regular payments for over a decade before he lost his job in July 2009.  He had only recently begun working again.

The Floyd County vet spent three months in jail before his release.  He is one of six plaintiffs who filed a class-action lawsuit in March seeking to force the state of Georgia to provide attorneys for impoverished, non-custodial parents facing imprisonment for failing to make child support payments.

The nonprofit Southern Center of Human Rights, located in Atlanta, filed the lawsuit; they argue that besides poverty, these parents went to jail without ever speaking to a lawyer.

Critics admit that while the jailing of parents who don’t pay can sometimes lead to payment,  it also penalizes the poor and unemployed parents who can’t pay even though the law is clear that a parent must be in willful violation of a court order before being jailed.

Judges can jail parents without trial because failure to pay child support is typically a civil matter and civil defendants are not afforded the same constitutional protections as criminal defendants, including the presumption of innocence.

Critics hoping that the U.S. Supreme Court would end the practice after hearing the case of Turner v. Rogers, which concerned a man in South Carolina repeatedly jailed for failure to pay; instead, the court ruled 5-4 in June that poor parents were not entitled to court-appointed representation and suggested that states employ “substantial procedural safeguards” to see to it that indigent parents not be jailed.

Colleen Eubanks, Executive Director of the National Child Support Enforcement Association, says that states denying the right to an attorney may actually tighten up their policies. “Obviously they’re going to have to look at changing the rules,” she said.


Renee said...

Absolutely disgusting and there's no justification for unemployed dads or moms being sent to jail for not being able to pay child support. And I wouldn't be surprise if the people being targeted are black. Sighs, I am so tired of this blatant disregard for citizens - particularly black citizens in this country. Until the people realize we hold the power to truly stop the injustices and remove the fear that currently paralyzes us, this will continue.

Anonymous said...

This is truly disgusting. How can a dead-beat-dad supply alimony money if he is in jailed. Now, we have too take care of him and his off springs..What is the logic behind this? This is total genocide. Jail time with representation is like being in slavery all over again. Just a new twist for the 21st century kids.

Anonymous said...

This does not make any sense, now how can they pay child support in jail and now have a criminal record so most likely will not get a decent job. The justice system is all screwed up. what idiots that are running things........How can you pay child support when you DO NOT WORK??? Help them get some type of skill training so that they can get a job.......Only in America...

Anonymous said...

This has been a common practice introduced on the heels of the welfare to work program introduced in the 90's. Here's the key of such deprivation of civil rights it is in fact a state sponsored civil rights violation noted under Title 18, U.S.C., Section 242
Deprivation of Rights Under Color of Law - The key is to have your life right in payments and/or interaction with the kids. To many brothers and some non African Americans worry about the money going to the new man in the womans life so they don't pay- WRONG
This makes it very hard on the struggling DO RIGHT BROTHER, who may be trying to deal with your kids and his own, you knuckle head Axx boy, I'm sorry, let me stay focused.

Anonymous said...

This is to follow up on comment 4- Please Brothers, do for your kids, for them and yourself. My son watched me become locked up over this he did'nt see the dog fight from in the jail over this and the Judge being removed from the bench what he saw was his daddy coaching (his)little league team, his dadddy having two career fields including legal support knowledge and fighting to stay employed with todays economy he sees a man, daddy, grandfather. He's a married young man that knows to take care of himself and his kids

Anonymous said...

I was once a young newly separated from my husband mother of two(2). It was really hard trying to take care of my two but I refused to beg a man to help me to take care of my child. I later got a divorce and at that time he had to pay it was a part of the decree. I feel like some of these young ladies what the free and tea programs that the state give to them for support of their children and guess what you can get free food, free medical and housing and cars. Now when you wave that in front of a young mother that has just had two , three maybe four children. what do you think?? and guess who pays. I have a son that I begged him to jimmy up. He has two babies, being immature in his thinking. He has to sit in jail for months until the judge decides he can get out and than he has no lincense because they are revolt because he can;t find a job to pay child support. Now, don't get me wrong all children need to be supported and taken care of. But, all women are not on the level in the mind. Please, brotha whatever you do for your child make copies and take pictures. One day all these things want make a difference but for now protect yourselves. Sista help these brotha's out if you know what you are getting into in the beganning.

Anonymous said...

Some one asked what the "Logic behind this" it is called Federal funding. Look up Title IV of the Social security act it explains everything. PS this people don't care how much of your money they spend as long as they keep their job and high payed salaries. It cost about $120 a day to jail a person in America.

Anonymous said...

I am a father and grandfather and I do sympathize with a parent jailed for non-payment of child support if that person is trying to do right. Being unemployed is not a crime. However, if you are one of those people who do not want to work, refuse to work or look for employment you will get no sympathy from me. That child did not asked to be born, so you do what has to be done to take care of it. If that means working one, two jobs flipping burgers or cleaning toilets then you do it. You do what ever is necessary to take care of that child. In life you get to make Choices. You can chose not to support your child or you can chose to do everything that you possibly can for that child and people will respect you for it. I am a Person of Color who grew up down South under "Jim Crow Law" who knows that you cannot always blame it on the Man. So if you are one of those people in jail for non-support payments and you do not want to do what's right in support of your child, stay there.

Anonymous said...

Articles like this really burn me up. The Poor and Middle class are being decimated and destroyed on a daily basis; especially black men while wall street and corporate executives continue to thrash the economy with an economic force 10 times the destruction of the atom bomb. All this was planned over 10 years ago and now the have the nerve to put a black man at the desk so everyone can blame him for the problems that have been in the making for over 40 years. This is a deliberate attempt to completely wipe out the middle class and bring poor (mostly black) people to complete ruin. Most people are family with the so-called "Willie Lynch letter(Whether it's authentic or not),but how many people are familiar with Col. Edward Mandall house and his conversation to President Wilson after WW1? This is what it says:

“[Very] soon, every American will be required to register their biological property in a national system designed to keep track of the people and that will operate under the ancient system of pledging. By such methodology, we can compel people to submit to our agenda, which will effect our security as a chargeback for our fiat paper currency. Every American will be forced to register or suffer being unable to work and earn a living. They will be our chattel, and we will hold the security interest over them forever, by operation of the law merchant under the scheme of secured transactions.
Americans, by unknowingly or unwittingly delivering the bills of lading to us will be rendered bankrupt and insolvent, forever to remain economic slaves through taxation, secured by their pledges. They will be stripped of their rights and given a commercial value designed to make us a profit and they will be none the wiser, for not one man in a million could ever figure our plans and, if by accident one or two should figure it out, we have in our arsenal plausible deniability. After all, this is the only logical way to fund government, by floating liens and debt to the registrants in the form of benefits and privileges. This will inevitably reap to us huge profits beyond our wildest expectations and leave every American a contributor to this fraud which we will call “Social Insurance.” Without realizing it, every American will insure us for any loss we may incur and in this manner, every American will unknowingly be our servant, however begrudgingly. The people will become helpless and without any hope for their redemption and, we will employ the high office of the President of our dummy corporation to foment this plot against America.”
This just the tip of the proverbial iceberg! We simply need to wake up to the cruel game they have been running on us Dead beat dads, black or white, single mothers, drugs, immigration, political sides and differences are NOT the real problem.It's those who control the money. They've been doing it for since before slavery ended and continue to do it now, making it even worse for the middle and lower classes. If you don't believe me, do your own research. Wake up people, please! This madness has got to stop! Pass this around.

Anonymous said...

Wait a minute, How is it you can be
jailed for something and it not be a "criminal" offence?

Anonymous said...

This is no new phenomenon; this practice has been going on for decades for Black men, even though unemployment rates for us are always moe than double the national average. And Black people have been turning a blind eye to this problem for the same amount of decades. Kind of like the convict lease programs of the south.

Mustafa Rasul Al-Amin

Anonymous said...

There has never ben justification to compel an average income earner to provide for two households. There has never been a study or statistics that proves an average income earner can do it for potentially twenty years. This is another form of slavery. We can stop it by supporting Shared Parenting Legislation. Read more at

Anonymous said...

that serves them right!!! if they was doing what they should've been doin from day one instead of finding a way to leave the mohter and child(ren)struggling,they wouldn't be in this situation.for to long mothers have been taking care of kids by themselves,all while these men go around making more kids,especially blk men! to many of them are deadbeats and are in and out of prison due to the fact that they wanna make bad choices. and even those with a job try and also skim out on the mothers with kids!!! i don't feel sorry for none of them and it's about time they're enforcing this more harder.. stop leaving the tax payers to care for your damn kids!!!

Anonymous said...

Did you hear about the Joe Walsh, Republican Congressman from Illinois who has not paid his child support.

Walsh, a Tea Party freshman, was outed last night by Bill O'Donnell on MSNBC as a child support scofflaw. O'Donnell vowed that he would never have Rep. Walsh as a guest until he cleared up his child support arrears. He also urged other talk show hosts to do the same.

Apparently, Rev. Pat Robertson didn't get the memo. Perhaps he was too busy absolving spouses who divorce spouses with Alzheimer's. Because last night, Walsh was on the 700 Club extolling his support of the State of Israel. Absent was any mention of his failure to pay for the support of his children.

Maybe an employed congressman should be jailed for nonpayment of child support.

Anonymous said...

They go to jail because they dodge like they do bill collectors. If you communicate with CSE you WILL NOT go to jail. You go to jail when they are consistantly trying to contact you and you do not respond. A warrant is then issued.

In addition you can ask for a Child support modification that will reduce their payments, plus if they apply for state assistance child support Enforcement can not enforce penalties.

Plus, The jail time is less than 3 days because they do not want to spend the funding to keep you longer, and the charge is a misdemeanor and will not keep you from getting a job if you know how to fill out an application the correct way.

The problem is Men are too lazy to learn what their rights are. They take bullshyt at face value and let the chips fall where ever they want to. State workers tell you anything to get you out of their face, whether the information is right, wrong, or stupid. I never deal with front line people cause they get on my nerves with their ignorant untraines asses.

I feel for the brother who is trying his damndest, he need to ask questions to get familiar with his options. But for those sorry ass MOFO's the white man can have them.

If you are involved and physically show with a paper trial as well as showing up for your court dates, the white man will not put you in jail. Keep dodging bullets, one day you will get shot in the ass. They give you 5 past due notices to contact them, suspension of DL's, and other warnings before they issue the warrant. Do they need to use fireworks and sky writing to take the hint?

Anonymous said...

WOW! When laid off my job, I still found a way to support my child. Wish I had the luxury of making excuses to my child as to why I could not take care of him. Yes, these are hard times economically, mainly for African Americans and other Blacks (who BTW do not acknowledge Black until its convenient for them), however, excuses are not in order, neither are pity parties or "poor me syndromes". See, this is why foreigners who have not contributed a damned thing to this country are able to come here and flourish...THEY DO NOT MAKE EXCUSES!! They just do it! Be it work at McDonalds, mow a lawn, start a business (BTW they usually receive this seed money from the U.S government when they hit the shores and apply for welfare). I have no sympathy for these men or women who end up jail for non payment of child support. Stop complaining and do what the custodial parent does... WHATEVER YOU HAVE TO DO TO ENSURE YOUR CHILDREN SURVIVE AND THRIVE!!

Anonymous said...

Why is Republican Congressman Joe Walsh who makes $176,000 A Year paid for by you and me and the other tax payers being held accountable for paying per his wife $100,000 in back pay.

His wife filed the claim months ago and Congress, Republican Joe Walsh keeps not showing up for his Child Support Hearing.

This guy has a Job and a very good one, yet won't pay his child support

Just this week he failed to show up for his court date and told reporters he had Television interviews so he could not come and take care of the $100,000 his wife reported he owes in child support

The wife said he hasn't paid child support in 3 years

Republican Congressman Walsh paid his own Campaign $13,000 and they reimbursed him, still not Child Support Payment to his Kids

Shouldn't it be Illegal for someone to become a Congressman or Senator who is not Abiding by the law?


CNN had him on this week and keeps bringing him on BASHING THE PRESIDENT.

Republican Congress Joe Walsh also lost his home it was foreclosed and he't running to the cameras everyday and a Deadbeat dad giving advice to the American people and Bashing the President.

These articles should be researched because this should have been included in this article.

Little Brown Princess said...

If he's out free and not doing what he's supposed to then yeah put his ass in the jail! If he's working and not paying then put the enforcement into affect.. there is no logic in locking them up if they are working at least...

Anonymous said...

We as Americans have to deal with the root of this growing problem! The root of this problem is WOMEN making bad choices! Really, I am a lady, and it makes me sick to my stomach to hear 'I am a single parent'! I believe in some situations, females are single parents for a reason such as, the female with 5 or 6 children by 5 or 6 different men and never been married. Thats a single parent by choice and its tryfling! They make that statement as if it should hold some weight or they need special attention! No more, Im sick of my taxes going up because we have irresponsible women out here having children for a pay check! They ignore the fact that that child loses out in the end! We need Child Support Reform and start holding these women accountable, repeat offenders I call them! I have been married my whole adult life and we have 2 children. My husband wanted more, I would'nt. I had the amount of children that I knew I could take care of had my marriage did'nt work out! I thank God we are still married 25 years this year! Another thing is this, I got the law involved in my relationship so if my marriage did'nt work, I would be able to go to the courts and involve them in my settlement, child support, allimony etc. Women that don't get the law involved in their relationship prior to having children, they should be on their own getting any kind of support. I would like my tax dollars to go toward something more productive! One more thing, I feel with the support given for the children, half of whatever is given, should go toward a college fund for the child> I believe the absent parent would feel somewhat better about giving. We all know that the money given to the custodial parent, they do not spend the money on that child, it goes to her hair, nails, vehicle, home for her and everyone else benefitting under that roof. We must start making these females make better choices, and not rewarding them when they act irresponsible, it turns into a vitious cycle! Who will lead the children? Who will SHOW them that there is a better way than a child for a check. Its becoming sickening! We must strive to be a better country and less tolerant to the actions of the irresponsible 1 night stands! God bless

Custodial Support Foundation said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Custodial Support Foundation said...

The Custodial Support Foundation assists in the release of several fathers from jail, who were denied modifications to their child support obligations after losing their jobs, and being arrested for the nonpayment of child support.

A Noncustodial Parent tells his story in Episode 7 of the Custodial Support Forum weekly talk show. The episodes shows how upstanding Noncustodial Parents are being arrested for losing their jobs, when they are not being able to satisfy their child support obligations.

Watch Episode:

Read Testimonial:

View the Amnesty Program:

Noncustodial Parents can obtain the services of the Custodial Support Foundation, to discharge child support enforcement actions by calling (855) 851-HELP or (855) 851-4357.

Muhammad Amir said...

It may not be a crime to be poor, but it can land you behind bars if you also are behind on your child-support payments. PPI help

What is income protection insurance said...

Jobless dads should really do something about unemployment issues. Their kids' futures are being put at risk.