Jailing a parent for not paying child support has become a troubling issue across North America. According to experts, the reason many of these parents can’t afford to make their payments is because they’re either unemployed or put in jail.
The topic has surfaced in the wake of the the fatal police shooting of Walter Scott, an unarmed 50-year-old South Carolina man. Scott's family has suggested that he ran from police because he was afraid of being sent to jail for failing to pay child support.
According to a 2014 report, Canadian “deadbeat” parents owe more than $3.7 billion in child support, and 97 per cent of them are men. If these parents don’t pay, they could face property seizures, loss of their license and even jail time.
Dwayne Ferebee, a father of four from Virginia, has received a prison sentence four times in the past 12 years because he was unable to pay child support. Speaking to the Washington Post, Ferebee explained how the judicial system is a vicious cycle: “All I was saying was, ‘Give me an opportunity instead of throwing me in jail because that just puts me further behind in child support. Let me find work so I can earn money.’”
In the above video, Irwin Garfinkel, a social work professor at Columbia University, discusses why jailing parents for not paying child support has become such a big issue, as well as the simple solution that can solve this problem.