Student examines corrections system; parents struggle to support

I couldn’t find a national count of how many parents are incarcerated for failure to pay child support, but I know that any number is too high.
Without getting into how much child support is disregarded and the political issues that go along with it, I want to bring attention to the incarceration of parents.
This system is one that encourages the remorseless and malefic cycle of imprisoning parents who do not pay child support, keeping them in jail for a short amount of time, expecting taxpayers to pay for this stay, then releasing that person and asking them to pay an insurmountable amount compared to the amount they already didn’t pay, leaving the child still without support.
Imagine a parent struggling to provide for his/her family and not receiving child support. It may be wrong, but is our system of justice and corrections going to fix it in a 30-day stay at their local prison? Probably not.
The stereotype of a nonwhite father who bailed on his family is often nailed to these parents by racist politicians. In reality, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that black fathers spend more time with their children, whether they live in the same household or not, than a father of any other race.
This isn’t an article bashing broken families and clinging to an inexcusable and not to mention, incorrigible argument of race though. This is an argument for what is again a question of whether our system of corrections is truly one for correcting bad behavior.
We already know that in Erie County alone, the reincarceration rate is an issue. This problem can feed into that as the cycle continues of not having money to pay support, going to prison, losing his/her job while in prison, and being in a worse place to provide for his/her child than in the beginning.
Hearing from Erie County Public Defender Pat Kennedy recently, she said it is one of the most frustrating problems because it takes time and resources to take someone to trial, just for that problem to still not be solved when they are released.
And to add on to that, taxpayers pay for that unbeneficial prison stay. These cases rarely see a long-term incarceration, yet it costs about $80 a day to keep each person in prison, resulting in a significant amount of money.
On the other end of the spectrum however, the U.S. is more likely than other countries to give longer sentences for crimes like homicide because they believe it’s just to lock those people away. When looking at longer stays, though, studies have shown that any change in behavior is made in the first 10-15 years and after that it isn’t correcting a behavior.
Not that some monsters shouldn’t be locked up forever and people not paying child support shouldn’t be punished, but in finding a “happy” medium, we need to take into consideration if our views of corrections are being executed wisely, especially when it’s at our own expense.

CHLOE FORBES
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