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May 1, 2011

Tackling the challenges of prisoner fathers who owe child support

This new AP piece, headlined "Conn. to help inmates pare child-support bills," discusses a new state programs dealing with an enduring prisoner problem:

[For] incarcerated parents across the country, the vast majority of them fathers, [being] in prison does not mean they won't have to pay child support or repay the state for welfare paid to their families in lieu of child support.  Experts say the debt can make overwhelmed parents less likely to pay when they are released, and potentially damage relationships with their children.

Jessica Pearson, director of the Center for Policy Research in Denver, said her studies of state programs for the federal government show that more than half the inmates in both state and federal prisons are parents with children under 18, and half of those have active child-support cases. "In general, inmates seem to go in owing about $10,000 in child support and come out owing about $20,000," she said.

In several states, such as Tennessee, incarceration is considered "voluntary unemployment," and inmates cannot get child support obligation amended while in prison.  Those laws are designed to ensure inmates are not being rewarded for committing a crime, and children don't get penalized, Pearson said....

States such as Massachusetts and Texas allow inmates to have child-support orders modified to a minimum payment, which can range from $20 to $80 a month depending on the state, according to the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement.  Others, including Connecticut, allow a judge to eliminate the payments entirely while a parent has no income....

Several states, including Illinois and Maryland, have begun programs that will forgive any debt owed to the state, if a former inmate makes regular child-support payments for a specified amount of time, as little as six months in the case of Illinois, Pearson said.  Federal grants have been made available from the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement to states for programs to help inmates become better fathers, access state services and get jobs.  But Pearson said there is little incentive for states to pass legislation to forgive child-support debts.

"It's a land mine for politicians," she said.  "To be soft on prisoners, and cut them deals, and forgive state debt for prisoners? T hey also don't want to make the poor chap who is doing the right thing and working two or three jobs to pay off his debt feel like a fool."

May 1, 2011 at 05:46 PM | Permalink

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Comments

personally i think if the state is responsible for the individual and that individual is in the state's custody...the state is respnsible for those payments.

Most especialy for those orders that are entered WHILE the individual is in that custody!

Only a retard govt hack would expect someone in prison to paid child support or anything else for that matter!

Now all bets would be off if the individual asking for the support could prove the individual in fact is someone like donald trump with millions or billions in the bank!

but to demand payment from someone with 0 income is just stupid

Posted by: rodsmith | May 1, 2011 10:40:57 PM

Can someone give me info on where to go or what i can do; Husbands ex committed perjury and had child support set according to her/or her lawyers testimony, we can prove them wrong. but damage has been done. now hes in prison on unrelated charges while arrears are accruing and will be there for sometime. Can anyone point us in the right direction?!

Posted by: Needing Help | May 11, 2011 10:38:58 PM

Child support is nothing more than a witch hunt what happened to 14th Amendment "Due Process" not when it comes to child support "equality" is out of the question most Modifications are made without the facts by a state owned lawyer who makes up $$$ that do not exist

Posted by: Steve | Dec 10, 2012 11:49:04 PM

I'm a parent that is against Florida laws when it comes to my fiancee being incarcerated. He has raised his kids most of there life and his x wife don't even have custody of them,and when she ended up with the children after a period of time she would get tired of them and send them this went on and off for years, and she would go after my fiancee when she had them and it just doesn't make any sense, he missed a year cause of him being unemployed and Is in jail for a 3000.00 perg. And they have records saying from his son that they lived with him most of there lives, what do I need to do cause he is in jail and its just not right.

Posted by: neka | Feb 28, 2014 12:06:07 AM

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