(I assume the last column is mislabeled and should be 2009 - it happens to the best of us - but to be on the safe side I've used 2008 data for all calculations.)
By comparison to Travis and Bexar, other large counties rates jail deadbeat dads at substantially lower rates. In Houston, deadbeat dads are jailed at a rate of one for every 1,476 open cases. By contrast, Harris County's average amount disbursed per open case in 2008 ($2,592) was higher than Bexar ($2,437) or Travis ($2,158). So there's no obvious reason to believe these tactics generate more income for dependents.
Reports the Express-News: "The vast discrepancy reflects a tougher-than-average philosophy in Bexar County in which parents who owe child support more often are summoned to court, judicial officials said. Usually, they’ll stay in jail for a few days or weeks to teach them a lesson or until they come up with some money." That said,
Not everyone, however, agrees.He added that:
“It’s counterproductive to me, and it just doesn’t make a lot of sense,” County Judge Nelson Wolff said.
It costs the county $60 a day to house a prisoner in Bexar County Jail, which often is overcrowded, he said. That equates to $2.7 million taxpayers must pay each year to incarcerate the parents, he estimated.
Hand in hand with the cost is the problem of jail overcrowding.
“I think there has to be a better way to do it,” Wolff said.
with a child support collection rate on par with Dallas County, Bexar County’s judicial philosophy doesn’t make sense, Wolff said. Once a person is in jail, he’ll lose his job or can’t look for work.Keep griping, Judge Wolff. You're exactly right on this one.
“It just doesn’t add up,” he said. “Obviously, all of the other counties have come to the same conclusion except for us. ..... You’re putting them in there with the criminal element. ..... Jail should be for the protection of the public.”
Wolff said he has been critical of the incarceration rate for most of his political career with the county. But it’s the elected district court judges who hire the child support court judges, and so his griping has had little effect, he lamented.