Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Repaying Debts: Child support, victim restitution should be top priorities for offender payments

After I wrote recently about a slew of bills increasing fees for probationers, Carl Reynolds from Texas' Office of Court Administration pointed out a recent report from his shop in conjunction with Dr. Tony Fabelo of the Council of State Governments' Justice Center titled "Repaying Debts" that addresses these and other closely related subjects. Some of their recommendations fell right in line with the issues raised in my post:
In addition, the report suggests some creative solutions for this longstanding, seemingly intractable problem:
See also OCA's analysis of the financial burden facing parolees (pdf) from Texas prisons when they get out and how that can contribute to recidivism.

I've not read the full report in detail, but it appears to emphasize, appropriately, repayment of child support and restitution to victims over court fees and supervision costs, a re-prioritization that I would wholly endorse.

I'm glad to see there are folks out there thinking about these issues more systematically than the bipartisan bill authors promoting new nickel-and-dime fee hikes each and every legislative session.


Anonymous said...

I support the part about rewarding those who try their best. I am a woman and I happen to believe that often fathers who are honestly doing their best are treated unfairly by many judges and assessed outrageous fines.

Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that my ex-husband's tax refunds/rebates get hijacked by the IRS rather than the AG for the delinquent child support. As automated as we are these days it seems they could easily set some better priorities.

sunray's wench said...

While I do think that everyone needs to pay their way, the concept of making parolees (and even those who are in prison) pay fees and fines will only work if they are also given the opportunity to earn money. With all the laws in place to prohibit ex-offenders from working in certain jobs and industries, and the fact that inmates in TDCJ are not paid anything for the work they have to do, the burden often falls on friends and family to pay the fees or restitution or child support. How exactly is that teaching self-responsibility? And how can that be fair - effectively laying a tax on those who decide to support their loved ones?