No Jail Option Cripples Child Support Enforcement

Shades of the Butterfly Effect. Saline County, Arkansas has a problem with its jail. Its overcrowded, understaffed, and insecure. The county submitted itself to a consent decree that, among other things, restricts whom the county can incarcerate until it corrects the problems.

Here’s a description of the ripple effect that causes in the Benton, Arkansas Courier. The judge who enforces child support in Saline County says his inability to incarcerate delinquent child support payors has caused enforcement there to “hit a brick wall.”

“My job is to get money into the (child support) system, but we’re like a toothless dog; we don’t have much of a bark,” [child support enforcement attorney Hayward] Battle said.

[Saline County Circuit Judge Bob] Garrett said when he can’t send offenders to jail, there’s not much else to take away.

“The main focus is to get money; we’re not penal-minded,” Battle said. “But sometimes it takes a tool like the jail.”

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