September 17, 2011
(NaturalNews) Delinquent U.S. parents who fail to pay court-ordered child support, regardless of their circumstances, are not subject to the same constitutional protections as those charged with violating other laws. Even war veterans who have faithfully fulfilled their child support obligations for many years, but have suddenly lost their jobs or have otherwise come upon legitimate hard times, can be jailed without a trial — and in some states, they can even be thrown in prison arbitrarily without any sort of legal representation.
MSNBC reports that while most cases of child support delinquency are presumably due to parents simply not wanting to pay, some cases involve a legitimate inability to pay. But as far as many court judges are concerned, the simple act of not paying is enough to warrant prison time, regardless of the situation. And for some down-and-out veterans, this has made their already difficult lives even worse.
“I felt that with my payment history and that I had just started working, maybe I would be able to convince the judge to give me another month and a half to start making the payments again,” said 39-year-old Randy Miller, and Iraqi war veteran, to MSNBC. Miller had faithfully paid child support for more than ten years, but unexpectedly lost his job in 2009.
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Miller was recently hired in a new position, and had made this fact aware to the Floyd County, Ga., judge that presided over his recent court appearance, noting that he would soon be able to start making payments again. But the judge apparently did not care much for Miller’s situation, and “went ahead and decided to lock [him] up,” where he remained for three months.
A similar situation occurred to 58-year-old Thomas Ball, a father and military veteran from New Hampshire, who had also faithfully paid child support for years, but lost his job unexpectedly. But in Ball’s case the situation ended in tragedy when, out of desperation, he doused himself in gasoline and lit himself on fire in front of the Cheshire County Court House where he was to be sentenced to prison for his inability to pay.
These and many other cases of unconstitutional, not to mention compassionless, acts of supposed justice in enforcing child support laws are an affront to honest, hard-working individuals — many of whom are veterans — that come upon difficult times outside of their control. Rather than be treated like guilty criminals, the law must be modified to recognize the difference between inability and indifference.
Sources for this story include: