On average, parents who were arrested for unpaid child support last year owed just over $2,000. But one mother said she’s owed more than 10 times that amount, and the father of her child has already been released from jail.
“There should be no reason that he’s been put back out on the street, especially if he doesn’t have a job,” said single mom Shone Brown.
In child support cases it is called the amount needed to purge. No matter how much a person owes, a judge determines how much they have to pay to get out of jail. But Shone Brown said there is no way her son’s father, who owes more than $25,000 in back child support, should have been released for just a hundred bucks.
“I have to go home, and I have to explain these things to my son, because he knows what’s going on,” Brown said. “I don’t hide anything from him.”
New Hanover County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Travis Robinson said letting someone pay less than the full amount in back child support helps them get back into the world. That way they can work and pay back their balance. “Folks staying in the jail facility are not out more or less being productive members of society by earning money to give for the children and for the families based on their obligations,” Lt. Robinson said.
In Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram said he is aware of several inmates in jail because they owe a few hundred dollars in child support. Each inmate costs tax payers about $60 a day.
“If we have a warrant on someone who owes whatever in child support, if the warrant is sent to our office we will serve it regardless of the amounts,” Sheriff Ingram said.
Brown hopes that message will convince her child’s father to live up to his obligations. “I don’t need a live-in father to be a good parent, but I need you to help take care of my child,” she said.
Lieutenant Robinson said many times a judge will issue a lower amount to purge, if it’s the first time someone has been arrested for failing to pay child support. But in other cases, a parent could be forced to pay the full amount before he’s released from jail.