- Posted March 28, 2012 by
Watertown, New York
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U.S. Supreme Court OKs Debtor's Prison for the Poor and Unemployed
"Are there no work houses? Are there no prisons?" If you're unemployed and behind on child support, the answer to Scrooge's rhetorical question is a resounding, "Yes and yes!"
The economic times Charles Dickens speaks of in his novel, "a Christmas Carol", could easily be applied to now.
Only we use euphemisms to describe the prisons and workhouses for the poor and unemployed.
5 Conservative Supreme Court Justices ruled that it was OK to imprison unemployed "deadbeat dads" last year. They went further to rule that these men, facing imprisonment for not paying child support did not have to have a court appointed attorney if they couldn't afford one.
In the landmark decision of "Turner vs. Rogers", the SCOTUS decided that our Constitution didn't include civil contempt vs. criminal contempt when allowing attorneys for those that couldn't afford them. If you're unemployed, you probably can't afford an attorney.
That's also why 50,000 men are in jail. They couldn't pay child support and didn't have the expertise of an attorney that could fight on their behalf.
In 1998, Congress held extensive hearings on the myriad abuses committed by the Internal Revenue Service against law-abiding citizens.
What few realize is that there are a similar number of men, fathers and families who have been victims of the same types of abuses by child support enforcement agencies.
Because federal funding helps shape the way child support enforcement bureaucracies operate, similar hearings are needed to investigate and remedy these abuses.
Many people believe that mothers are on public assistance not because they’re poor, but because they’re not married. They still subscribe to this ridiculous notion that Mom + Dad + Baby = No Problems Ever Again, and figure that if people are struggling financially, it’s because they’re sexual deviants.
And so their child support laws are geared not towards making sure men pay for their children so much as punishing people for not being married, and punishing people for being poor.
It’s no good for the mothers, either, because they’re often expected to go to great lengths to try to get the money from the fathers before they’re permitted to get public assistance to feed their children.
This is all rooted in a highly punitive view of gender roles and responsibilities, and no one benefits from it.
Not that I’m against the state getting child support out of those who can pay it. They should do that! But we already have a method that works just fine: wage garnishment.
The only drawback to wage garnishment is that you can’t do it to men who aren’t drawing wages. And that’s fine by me. People who can’t afford to pay their child support aren’t going to magically be able to if you throw them in jail.
Inability to cover expenses is why we have public assistance. Men who are in dire financial circumstances aren’t going to get out of them by having the state force them into ever more desperate situations.
The children will be much better off in the long run if men have a road out of poverty. Once they actually start drawing wages, then it’s fine by me to garnish them, though I’m a little wary of charging them back child support on money they weren’t even making.
Again, the state should be helping people out instead of just piling more and more penalties on people who can’t afford to pay in the first place- especially in this economy with so many unemployed veterans returning from war and many Americans who still can't find a job.
We need this addressed by Congress and our President. It's a national crisis and nobody's talking about it. CNN, where are you?
"In times of tyranny and injustice, when law oppresses the people, the outlaw takes his place in history."- Robin Hood.
The U.S. is such a place, in such a time now. Law should give freedom. At one time they did.
Laws, wriiten by our founders, gave Americans rights, now the laws are written to take away the rights we were given and courts uphold these immoral laws.