"Can you help me?" The caller pleaded on the other end. "When__showed up for his court date today they took him into custody. They say he'll have to come up with 3+grand if we wants to get him released. They gave him six months for non-payment of child support, although he has a job. He'll lose the job he's only had for three weeks if he has to serve the entire six months."
Me: "Can you really take a working person off the streets for something like that if they're at least trying to work?" I asked the individual on the other end of the phone? "Isn't it's suppose to be the law of the land that an individual can't be imprisoned for an inability to pay a debt? That's debtor's prison." That's suppose to be against the law of the land."
The caller___"I don't know. The courts here pretty much do what they please. There's no one willing or able to challenge them."
"Ok, I know you're upset, but let's try to think."
"My first suggestion is to call his employer and explain the situation. Call me back and let me know what they say. Let's just think. There's got to be some local human rights organization or something to take such abuses of power on. But time is not on our side. So we'll have to act fast."
Call back: "I spoke with his manager. They said they'll try and hold the position open as long as they can. They were really impressed with his work. They even gave him a small promotion in the little time he'd been there."
Fast forward nearly three months later:
Caller: "He has another court date and the chaplain at Silverdale helped him to file papers hopefully to get the over 3 grand reduced to a reasonable amount. They're still holding his position open at_____. But I'm not sure how much longer they can keep the position unfilled."
Court date: Caller:___"They reduced the amount but the hostage takers are still over a grand. I have some Christmas money I'd put aside for the children's Christmas, but it's not near that amount. Only a little over $250. The manager where he worked says they can't hold the position open much longer. If the hostage takers won't release him before Sunday in order for him to return to work, they have no choice but to fill the position with someone else.
OK...Let me think. There was no warrant. He showed up for all his court dates. They didn't have to go looking for him. He has a job. In the meantime, so why did they take him into custody for an inability to pay a debt? In the meantime let me make some phone calls. Give me a day or two. We still have a couple days before Friday. If we can get him released by Friday he'll have time to show up for work on Sunday."
Me, calling back:" .....I can spare about $300. I'll just have to be late paying a couple of bills. ___ (another contact) said they can add a little and loan the money they were saving up for a pair of hearing aids, and ___said she'll loan you the money she'd put aside for moving out of state to a new job after the first of the year. ____Just had major cancer surgery with a hospital bill for over hundred-thousand grand...said she'll let you have what she normally would have sent in on the portion of the bill the insurance didn't cover. "All in all, we're close to what the hostage takers are demanding, but we're still short and may not get it all in before the weekend and in time for___ to return to work. So he may still lose the job.
Reached the goal: Money paid. Not from granny's stash inside the mattress or tied up in a pillow case as someone suggested prior. But taken from others who have very little to nothing themselves. Children will have to go without Christmas. Getting hearing aids will now be delayed. The job change may have to wait. Unpaid medical bills not covered by insurance will pile up. But what the heck. The kidnappers will get their demand, but at what sacrifice? This is what the poor struggle with on a routine basis that locks them in poverty and desperation. When people become desperate, they're like to find other means, even illegal ones, for the just basic. They're not trying to maintain a certain high standard of living. They're just trying to survive.
America has one of the highest incarceration rates in the world. Most of which are non-violent acts. I refuse to use the term "crime", because many of them shouldn't even be labeled a crime. Even as the nation pretends to be the beacon of fairness and freedom for oppressed people around the world, the U.S. continues to lock up an overwhelmingly large portion of its own population. Often for minor and acts that shouldn't even fall under the heading of "criminal."
America has only about five percent of the world's population, but 25 percent of its citizens are in jails or prisons at a cost of about 63 billion a year in taxpayer money. Many more are either on probation or house arrest, often for non-violent, sometimes even non-existing/created acts called crimes. An overwhelming number of those, about 90 percent, are males. And of that 90 percent, a large portion are poor and minority. It's like a psychologcial castration of the human spirit.
Even Nelson Mandela remained on the U.S. terrorist list until 2008, when a bill sponsored by Democratic Senators John Kerry and Sheldon Whitehouse, supported by Republican Senator Bob Corker, was signed into law; waiving travel restrictions on Nelson Mandela.
Just think if all that money was used to create more rocket scientists instead of building more prisons and jails and filling even more jails and prison beds. America continues to lag behind some of the most undeveloped countries when it comes to education, learning process and world knowledge. Why is that?
America has been labeled the "Incarceration Nation." That's not something to be proud of for a nation that boast of freedoms, equality, and a beacon of light for oppressed people around the world.
It's easy to see the driving force behind poverty and other disadvantages in poor, especially minority poor, communities is mass incarceration of fellow American citizens in targeted communities. And make no mistake about it......certain communities were targeted as far back as the 1980s primarily for gentrification. So what do you do when you want to uproot the poor and make way for the well-to-do and wealthy pr take away land rich in minerals and natural resources and for development? Well, in war-torn countries refugee camps are created. In America to uproot and remove the poor, they're thrown into prisons and jails. Then build more jails and prisons to throw in even more Americans where they're forced and locked into a nightmare of a cycle where they're forever trapped with no chance of escape.
The individual hasn't been released as I write this. Although the ransom has been paid. Hopefully, there's another position at the business they'll consider him for if and when he's let out.
Nelson Mandela was often quite critical of America's policies. Both domestic and international. And the above is why. You are not free here.
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Brenda Manghane-Washington, you fascinate me. Really. The Bible says a man that does not support his family is worse than an infidel. I didn't say it. God's Word did.
What is sad is that these people who gave their hearing aid money, hospital bill money, children's Christmas money were guilted into giving their monies to help this "Joe" that refuses to support his children. If you can't support them, don't have them. What I clearly mean by "don't have them" means, do not have sex. Here's the real deal . . . . . Every time a person has sex, in essence, they are giving their consent and saying "Today it is OK that I become a parent and take upon all the real responsibility a child incurs". If people realized that, we would not have all these babies been created, born out of wedlock and subject to the state taking care of them by footing the bill for their birth, the WIC program, food stamps, cell phones, reduced housing, etc.
I, for one, am tired of my hard-earned tax dollars going to pay for these entitled individuals that refuse to take care of what they chose to create yet want someone else to foot the bill.
* * *
Debbie Johnson should be reminded that incest is also in the Bible. So are mass killings, genocide, sacrificing one's child to prove ones loyalty to God can be found there. Does she agree is alright to have sex with one's child because it's in the Bible and sanctioned by God? Or like most who think as she, just cherry pick the Bible for the parts that suits her argument?
I'll bet too at some interval of her life she's also received some form of government assistance she's not aware of. Ever applied for and received a government-backed federal college loan? Grant? Social programs are far more reaching than Food Stamps. welfare and WIC. People who complain the most about others receiving government assistance are usually the ones sucking the tits of the government most themselves in some form or another.
People in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
P. Maria Tyeh
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I know you mean well, Brenda, but I gotta agree 1,000 percent with Debbie Johnson's thoughts on this issue.
I say lock 'em up and throw the key away if you can't support these kids. Don't put the burdens on the taxpayers and the mama by not paying your child support.
* * *
As I said in another post I knew this was Brenda's post before ever reaching the bottom. As a custodial parent and "victim" of the child support debacle 40 years ago I'm saddened to see the problem has not improved. For me this problem has no color bounds, no gender boundaries, the absent parent goes on with their lives. They eat, they sleep in a warm bed, drive a vehicle and find other "loves of their lives". After they pay their bills there's little left to contribute to the life they created with little to no thought about what the custodial parent is doing or how they're struggling. They, too, have little to no Christmas, they, too, cannot afford luxuries like hearing aids, vacations or moving...they are stuck without the help of family and friends to raise those little ones. My hat tips to those parents who never give up and continue to fight the fight.
Brenda doesn't mention who the original caller was that needed her help but I'm betting it's either the new girlfriend or new wife. I've met my fair share of them in my time and even been one myself. The difference was I realized the obligations I, too, was taking on getting involved with the absent parent and that debt was paid first; walking in those shoes changes the complexion of how you're going to handle the situation.
For all of those Mom's that are fighting the system trying to get those child support payments let me assure you that this debt never goes away. Regardless of the child's age you can collect. Situations always change and most absent parents believe once the child reaches the age of majority they're free - not. You will always have the debt, bankruptcy is not the answer when it comes to child support.
Should the absent person go to jail? I honestly do not know, I think it's a case by case situation. Child support authorities usually try to work with the absent parent because they know the father/mother can't earn a living in jail. But if they cannot make headway perhaps jail convinces the parent they're not kidding? I don't have the answers Brenda is looking for but it's epidemic across the country; parents run off and begin new lives and that debt isn't looked at as importantly as the house payment or that car payment. For me personally you have no business accruing more debt when you can't pay the bills that you already have. I am definitely on the side of the struggling parent trying to feed her/his children and keep a roof over their heads. I've met both male and female absent parents and to them I say you have no "right" to soldier on without taking responsibility for the lives you've left behind. Period.
* * *
Looks like there will be more ransom notes coming soon. The Sherif's office just arrested 12 more innocent alleged deadbeat parents today. Mrs. Washington you certainly have the gift of eloquent prose. I think you missed your calling though when you didn't become a public defender. I understand some of the feelings you write about, because sometimes government doesn't always act the way I chose it too. In this case, I think you are misinformed on the whole issue. The NAACP website says we have the highest incarceration rate in the world and that we have 25 percent of the worlds total prison population. We don't have 25 percent of our population in jail. Tennessee has about 21,000 inmates out of a population of about 6 and a half million residents.
That is less than .35 percent of the population.
The person you speak of was not put into debtors prison. He was jailed for contempt of court. I don't know the person, if you had shared his name, we could have looked up the charges, as that is public records, and determined for ourselves how unjust was his treatment. From experience with former employees, a non custodial parent is given many chances to catch up or explain why they are behind in providing for their children. If your friend owes $3,000, that probably represents 30 weeks of unpaid support. You say he made all of his court dates. How many, a dozen? Every time the judge probably warned of the consequences of abandoning the care of his children. Every time he chose to go without paying, knowing each time he went to court, he might go to jail.
Believe me, it takes a great deal of contempt of court and failure to provide for children to ultimately be incarcerated. I have found that every judge I have observed has tried every way possible not to put someone in jail. But at some point, even the most patient and lenient judge reaches a point where the only alternative is to lock up those who chose to ignore court ordered child support. I would urge you and your friends to hold onto their limited funds, because anyone who would fail to provide for their children most likely won't repay you either.
Also it is rare for an inmate at Silverdale to serve day for day. Most inmates get at least 2 for 1 and often 3 for 1 days of time credit if they chose to work while incarcerated.
I applaud your gift of prose, but I would appreciate it more if you would take up the plight of the children who suffer broken homes and even more so the ones who's parents have totally abandoned them financially. The only voice they have is the judge who was forced to put your friend in jail.
* * *
Someone showed up for court and was taken into custody for back child support.
I've got mixed feelings about putting a man (or woman) in jail for back child support- it's hard to earn a living behind bars. What interests me, though, is the amount of money owed: over $3,000. Three thousand dollars plus. That's not simply "I missed my payment last week" or even "last month." "That is apparently several months of "I missed..."
I know that the courts don't let the amount pile up and suddenly spring a warrant on you. I'm certain that attempts were made to make arrangements for payment. I'm also certain that this person was advised that there were legal consequences.
But what about the children that had to get along without the child support. My wife are raising our granddaughter and, in over a year, we have gotten less than $300 for child support from both parents. It's a struggle. I'm resentful about it. But, every time Keegan hugs my leg and says "Papaw", I realize that it's worth it.
But to complain about someone who owes $3,000.00-plus in child support being put in jail is just a bit much.
* * *
I must reveal an astounding fact that a great number of citizens in our society seems to have missed. If you obey the law, you rarely go to jail. That principle defeats traffic cameras, roadblocks, contempt of court, and virtually every law on the books. If you examine the lists of people arrested each day right here on Chattanoogan.com, you find scores of individuals that have been arrested for a handful of crimes. Driving while drunk, illegal drugs, driving without proper license or basic auto insurance, assault, theft, etc. That list also includes failure to pay child support, which is a crime.
How many people that owe child support have jobs? How many people that owe child support know that if it is not paid they will eventually go to jail? How many people that owe child support smoke? Drink alcohol? Rent movies? Eat out often? Have a cell phone? Have a new wife or girlfriend, boyfriend or husband since the relationship that resulted in the child support? How many people that owe child support have produced more children since they became responsible for child support?
I hope the point is getting through? Choose to create a child and you choose to do whatever it takes to help support that child. That may mean life limitations for the individuals that cannot think beyond their pants or skirts. Limitations. If an individual is delinquent in the duty of caring for their offspring, then society shoulders the burden. That places the limitations on everyone.
Ms Washington, you refer to the individual as a hostage. A hostage is someone who is abducted illegally. Seems that your subject, __________, was fully aware of his responsibility and had quite a few opportunities to secure his freedom. He simply needed to do "whatever" was necessary to obey the law in light of the obligation that he created for himself. Very, very likely that he would be facing a life of "limitations" for quite a while.
Please take a look at the person caught in the middle of this mess, the innocent child. Is it your judgement that the child should be a "hostage" to lack of resources? Should the child live a life of limitations because mom or dad can't control themselves in any aspect of their lives? Is it your judgement that society just provide a bottomless pit of money to support those who refuse to obey the law of man or nature or God or the tribe or the village?
In case you would like to tell us all the details of the story about mom and dad and how unfair the situation is, we are waiting. Tell us everything about both of them. Be honest. We want to know everything, nothing left out. I'll place a bet right now that I can write that story for you. It's often a well known script, like a formula movie or television series.
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Someone should point out to P. Maria Tyeh that she just cherry picked the Bible for the parts that suit her argument.