Unable to pay child support, poor parents land behind bars

This is an exerpt of a report I found many years ago. Very little, if anything has changed.

Imagine if you are one of the millions who just lost their job due to the coronavirus pandemic and you couldn’t pay your child support, due to no fault of your own. You plead your case but are rejected due to archaic and outdated laws. You are sent off to jail and still have to pay what you owe, with absolutely no ability to do so. What do you do?

While jailing non-paying parents — the vast majority of them men — does lead to payment in many cases, critics say that it unfairly penalizes poor and unemployed parents who have no ability to pay, even though federal law stipulates that they must have “willfully” violated a court order before being incarcerated.

They compare the plight of such parents to the poor people consigned to infamous “debtors’ prisons” before such institutions were outlawed in the early 1800s.

“I try very carefully not to exaggerate, but I do think that’s an apt comparison,” said Sarah Geraghty, the attorney handling the Georgia case for the Southern Center for Human Rights.

“And I think anyone who went down and watched one of these proceedings would agree with me. … You see a room full of indigent parents — most of them African-American — and you have a judge and attorney general, both of whom are white. The hearings often take only 15 seconds. The judge asks, ‘Do you have any money to pay?’ the person pleads and the judge says, ‘OK you’re going to jail,’” she added.

The threat of jailing delinquent parents is intended to coerce them to pay, but in rare cases it can have tragic results.

In June, a New Hampshire father and military veteran, Thomas Ball, died after dousing himself with gasoline and setting himself ablaze in front of the Cheshire County Court House.

The accompanying video is here:

Clayton Craddock is an independent thinker, father of two beautiful children in New York City. He is the drummer of the hit broadway musical Ain’t Too Proud. He earned a Bachelor of Business Administration from Howard University’s School of Business and is a 25 year veteran of the fast paced New York City music scene. He has played drums in a number of hit broadway and off-broadway musicals including “Tick, tick…BOOM!, Altar Boyz, Memphis The Musical and Lady Day At Emerson’s Bar and Grill. In addition, Clayton has worked on: Footloose, Motown, The Color Purple, Rent, Little Shop of Horrors, Evita, Cats, and Avenue Q. You can also follow Clayton on Instagram and Twitter www.claytoncraddock.com

Originally published at https://claytoncraddock.substack.com.