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NCJ Number: 167866 Find in a Library
Title: Should Daddy Go to Jail for Nonpayment of Support?
Journal: American Jails  Volume:9  Issue:5  Dated:(November/December 1995)  Pages:49-51,53-55
Author(s): S L Williams
Date Published: 1995
Page Count: 6
Type: Legislation/Policy Analysis
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article examines the pros and cons of jailing absent fathers for failure to pay child support.
Abstract: Advocates for the use of jail explain that most men are lax in making weekly child support payments. The threat of jail acts as a catalyst for them to give priority to child support payments in order to avoid the disruption of their lives with incarceration. Criminal sanctions, argue the advocates, operate in a subtle way to reinforce a person's sense of how much importance the community attaches to a certain form of behavior, absent parents sharing the financial burden. It is argued that swift and certain punishment can reduce the incidence of nonpayment so long as potential offenders perceive a clear link between their own behavior and a system that leads to punishment. On the other hand, many researchers argue against the use of jail in forcing noncustodial parents to be economically responsible toward their children. They contend that the benefits of jail for this purpose are unpersuasive and are greatly surpassed by the problems jailing presents, such as monetary costs, emotional stress, unfairness, inhumane conditions, scarce jail space, damaged relationships with children, and insufficient procedural safeguards. The arguments from both sides are compelling. As more and more States use jails as an enforcement mechanism for failure to pay child support, there will be a clearer picture of the potential costs and benefits of jailing. 1 table and 12 references
Main Term(s): Corrections effectiveness
Index Term(s): Deterrence effectiveness; Family support; Jails
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