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Monday, June 22, 2009

Parolees Struggle With Child Support

St. Joseph News

Feeding his crack habit in a known drug house when law officers kicked in the door about two years ago, Kenton McGaughy was swooped up, convicted of possession and sent to prison. He was paroled in March.

Today, he’s escaped the cold walls of a state penitentiary, but there is no escape from paying child support — of which owes more than $27,000. He’s paying it down with a $9-an-hour job as a short-order cook.

Re-entry officials say ex-convicts like Mr. McGaughy emerge from prison facing menial employment, lowered earning power and a policy that may whisk them back to prison for debts built while behind bars. That contrasts with a tough prosecutor in St. Joseph who is unapologetic about recovering child support.

Mr. McGaughy, 46, says he has begun to turn around his life after what he calls a revolving door of prison, an outside world of drugs and alcohol and continually falling behind on his child support payments. He lives in a shelter among homeless to make ends meet. Almost half of his $680 biweekly paycheck goes toward support of his two children and payment to their mothers on arrearages.

“It’s a humbling process. I can’t get ahead with the way the economy is,” he said. “Gotta keep working, man, to keep them off my back.”

Buchanan County Prosecutor Dwight Scroggins is among officials who consider child support a serious enforcement issue and a prison sentence as “voluntary unemployment.” Warrants requested by his office brought Mr. McGaughy from Colorado three times for nonsupport.

“If you are a criminal, you’ve chosen to do time. You should support the child immediately on getting out. That should be your No. 1 priority. And if it’s not, your thinking is still not very straight,” Mr. Scroggins said.

But finding a job upon release, getting substance abuse treatment and making up lost time with family are factors that affect a newly released inmate, said Marcia Miller, a former corrections employee who heads an inmate support program in St. Joseph.


Anonymous said...

Scoggins and Miller are addicted to there paychecks. Take there's away unvoluntarily for a year and see whats left of there miserable existance.djw

Anonymous said...

The offender is doing the right thing, and he should be praised! It's tough, but his children are his responsibility, and they deserve anything he can do to help financially. He is helping to stop the cycle; otherwise, the kids just don't have a chance. They need food, clothing and shelter provided by their dad.

Marcia McGuire said...

It's more than tough on an inmate. Once an inmate, always an inmate. There is no such thing as an ex-offender; ex-inmate. The laws don't permit an individual to progress. Many educational and occupational opportunities are denied to the people coming out of literal prison, just to realize they are forever entangled in a system that has labeled them for life; a prisoner for life.

The children of EX-inmates deserve better! By denying the supporting parent all rights as a reformed citizen, not only do the EX-inmates continue to suffer, so do the children. How does the law explain that one? ... My guess? As long as the system financially benefits the state and federal government, the talk about providing sufficient child support to children is of no concern.

This article shows those who are FOR mandatory parole and discrimination on all levels against EX-inmates the domino effect it causes. The emotional pain (as well as financial) is a form of abuse sanctioned by the laws that perpetuate discrimination. Entire families are victims of archaic and abusive policies. Enslavement.

Reform in re-entry policies are necessary at every level. I praise the people who are working for reform. It is THEY who are on the right side of this issue, as evidenced by the plight of parents with felony histories and how it severely affects their children.

Choice nor not, it's myopic and a self-righteous call to judgment to hold a 'released' inmate forever under the rules of the dungeon. With each passing year, all of us learn and evolve with experience.

Reform is necessary. Call the lawmakers to the table to end the cycle of abuses to these families. They need support, hope and definitely the basic necessities of life to move on productively.

Anonymous said...

What child support enforcement is not telling you is that most of the time the custodial parent (usually mom) was on welfare. Child support enforcement is collecting THEIR money back in arrearages, the kids don't see the money unless it's CURRENT SUPPORT. It's federally mandated that if states want federal funding for welfare THEY MUST collect child support. Federal rules can be changed to zero out support when someone is incarcerated. This guy is lucky, my husband's arrearages are over $45,000 from being incarcerated. Fortunately most states only collect support for 25 years from the filing date so they do eventually give it up.

Colorado's idea of sending child support 10% of inmate pay and deposits is silly...not even worth a 44 cent stamp and I've had his case managers at child support reiterate that. But unfortunately their hands are tied at the federal level.

With parole fees and fines on top of that it's no wonder these guys just give up and go back to prison. When my husband was out he was paying $1,000 a month in CURRENT support...none of was going toward the back support. And one of the moms has always refused to let him see his son...while she still sits on welfare eating her chocolate bon bons.

Anonymous said...

Parolees are given almost "zero" chance of succeeding. They are given a $100 gate check to survive on until they "get on their feet". That is good for about 1 day after they buy a set or two of street clothes, pay for a place to stay and food. Then, they are on their own with nothing. They can't get a job with their history; they have no transportation; they most likely have little or no marketable job skills or education; they must report to a parole officer immediately and then are required to attend classes and/or counseling (and pay for them), as well as paying any fines or restitution they may still have. According to the Colorado DOC Administrative Regulations, the purpose of a parole officer is to help the inmate transition back into society by helping them get jobs, counseling, other resources, etc. The reality is that they do none of the above. Most only police the ex-inmate and go to great lengths to find ways to violate them and return them to prison. Little wonder the inmates return to crime to survive. They have almost no alternatives.

Anonymous said...

Excellent comments.

In the case of my ex-daughter-in-law, she found a *sugar daddy* within 3-4 months after my son's incarceration. My son lost his child by law, but the child support has been put on 'abeyance' until his release.

This girl was put into jail (in Michigan) for theft for several days while in Michigan under the eye of the state. She still gained full rights to the child. If it weren't for the *sugar daddy* (17 years her senior), this girl would never have been able to escape her devious behaviors to date. I have great concern for my granddaughter.

Meanwhile, although my son has never set foot in the state of Michigan, he is facing possible child support to a girl who has learned to work the system in her favor, including snitching about others in jail, to have her own charges dropped.

Law enforcement is fully aware of these deceptions (and encourage it) and the possible harm it could cause the child(ren). They encourage it for more conviction$.

This pair continues to call themselves 'engaged' to one another for the past 2 years. This is a cover.

This would be a mighty interesting case for an attorney working in defense of men's rights when deceptive women (and men wishing to gain $$$) laugh in the face of honor.

The state of Michigan deliberately exchanged the word -terminate- for -relinquish-. Highly unethical.