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Author Topic: ACLU says alleged ‘‘deadbeat dads’’ jailed without due process  (Read 3737 times)


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ACLU says alleged ‘‘deadbeat dads’’ jailed without due process

    EAGLEVILLE, Pa. (AP) - Ninety men serving time in a county prison for failing to pay child support were denied their due process rights, the American Civil Liberties Union contends.

    Thirty of the men were released from the Montgomery County Correctional Facility on Wednesday, officials said. The other 60 inmates were being interviewed by county officials and others, and they could be freed within days, said the county’s president judge, S. Gerald Corso.

    Pennsylvania ACLU staff lawyer Malia Brink said that county courts throughout the state often jail such men, often referred to as deadbeat dads, for civil contempt without adequate notice or enough time for them to get lawyers.

    Typically, the men meet with domestic relations officials, are declared in arrears, and are quickly brought before a judge. The judge usually finds them in contempt of a court order to pay and jails them for about six months.

    Corso has ordered a review of court procedures for all those incarcerated for failing to pay support. Among the changes already implemented: Contempt hearings will be scheduled two weeks after enforcement conferences, and defendants will be advised throughout the process of their right to an attorney.

    ‘‘The ACLU thinks everyone facing prison should have counsel,’’ Corso said. ‘‘We do not disagree with that.’’

    Amid similar criticism from ACLU attorneys last year in western Pennsylvania, Westmoreland County judges agreed to provide court-appointed attorneys in child support cases and Lawrence County judges freed 37 inmates jailed for nonsupport.

    ‘‘The ACLU hopes that the president judges of counties throughout Pennsylvania will respond to the ACLU’s request with the same dispatch and sense of justice that Montgomery County showed,’’ Brink said in a prepared statement. ‘‘But we’re realistic and realize that we may have to file suit against one or more counties who refuse the request.’’

    Of the 90 child-support inmates, those on work-release were freed after agreeing to have the money they owe deducted from their wages. A second group was told they could leave the prison if they got jobs and agreed to return next month for hearings.

    The third group, which Corso called ‘‘chronic offenders who have had three bench warrants issued against them in the last few years’’ for failure to appear, will go before judges to see how their cases should proceed.



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« Reply #1 on: Dec 15, 2003, 05:12:28 PM »

of course these guys would need court appointed attorneys....they have no money or they wouldn't be in arrearages.

I also wonder....how many of the 90 were chronic offenders?  How many of these guys lost their jobs because they were sent to prison (the second group)?


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RE: Not surprised by the county. (nm)
« Reply #2 on: Dec 16, 2003, 07:39:58 PM »


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