Forgotten Majority

Advocating for the just and humane treatment of those who are incarcerated.


The thought of insurmountable child support that continues to accrue during years of incarceration can suck the joy clean out of the hope of going home to a fresh start.  Neither imprisonment nor parole ends a court order to pay child support and a newly released parent will usually not have the means or ability to finance or satisfy a large child support debt.  The average inmate, contrary to popular belief, makes no money while incarcerated in the state of Florida.  Only inmates employed in work release programs receive some compensation from which they are required to pay about 50% for their subsistence and no less than 10% toward the support of their dependent children.

Inmates can file for a modification of their child support order  while serving their time.
Florida Statute 61.14(1)(a) contemplates that either party in the original action may seek modification of an order requiring the payment of support as equity requires.  Florida Statute 61.14(6)(a)(3) provides that any unpaid payment or installment of support which has accrued up to the time either party files a motion with the court to alter or modify the support order may not be reduced by the court.  Simply stated, this means that any support owed prior to the filing of a petition to modify the support order will not be reduced but amounts accrued after the filing of the petition may be modified.  Marcia Miller, head of an inmate support program in Kansas City, advocates that offenders should be given up to 3 months post release before repayment begins and that the amount not be based on the inmates pre-incarceration earning potential.

Most inmates want to pay, they want their children taken care of, they don’t want to be ‘dead beat dads’ but they become discouraged when their attempts to pay are countered by their inability to keep up with huge arrearages.  Once inmates have paid their debt to society and are released,  they face menial employment and lower earning power which, oftentimes, leads to a default of their child support requirement.  As a result, driving privileges are suspended making it difficult for the releasee to maintain employment. So those who once had dreams of changing their lives for the better now find themselves hurled into a cycle of poverty and subsequent reincarceration.

Though the court takes action on behalf of the dependent child by  ‘nailing’ the released inmate with impossible past due payments, it fails to tear down the crucifix that’s been inadvertently constructed?