Cumberland Times-News

Local News

April 2, 2013

Senate eases penalty for not paying support

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Parents can’t pay child support if they’re in jail or if they’re convicted felons.

That’s the rationale behind a bill unanimously passed by the West Virginia Senate on Tuesday. The bill would ease the punishments for knowingly failing to pay child support.

Currently, if a parent knowingly fails to pay child support for a year it can become a felony offense, bringing the parent a sentence of one to three years in prison.

The bill passed by the Senate would change the crime to a misdemeanor and change the punishment to home confinement. The bill mandates that anyone sentenced to home confinement must find a job or register with Workforce West Virginia for job training. Although the punishments are more lenient, unpaid child support would become a criminal offense after six months rather than after one year.

The bill was sparked by a discussion in the Senate committee on child poverty in March.

At that meeting, the Rev. Matthew Watts, a community leader on Charleston’s West Side, said that sending non-paying parents to prison was only ensuring that the payments to children don’t get made.

“In my neighborhood I’ve got guys who work for me,” Watts said. “They come to me begging for a job and they say, ‘If I don’t get child support by Friday I’m going to go to the regional jail for 45 days.’ This is one of the most draconian, backward ap-proaches to trying to get non-supporting fathers to pay child support.”

Sen. Donald Cookman, a co-sponsor of the bill and a former state judge, said that he has sent non-paying fathers to prison, but it is always a judge’s last resort.

“The obvious problem with that is there’s no support that can be paid by somebody that’s in the penitentiary,” Cookman said. “So that person is being supported by the state, the mother is being supported by the state and the child is being supported by the state.”

The bill institutes graduated sentencing so that a second offense would be a misdemeanor with a maximum of one year in jail, and a third offense would be a felony with a minimum of one year in prison.

Cookman said that eliminating the felony conviction on the first and second offenses is important. A felony conviction makes it much more difficult for an offender to get a job after a sentence is over, further lessening the likelihood that they will be able to make support payments.

Cookman acknowledged that many of the people who end up in prison for failure to pay child support are unlikely to pay it even if they aren’t sent to jail. But he said giving them a felony conviction just makes it much more difficult for them to find a job and pay support should they reform their ways in the future.

Text Only
Local News
  • Easter experience Easter experience

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Game on: City interested in baseball study

    After it looked like the objection of a couple of constituents to a study on the feasibility of bringing a minor league baseball team to the area may have torpedoed the thought, county commissioners and some city officials sounded ready to sing a chorus of “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” on Thursday.

    April 18, 2014

  • DEREK SHEELY Charges against helmet maker stand in case of Frostburg player’s death

    A Montgomery County judge this week declined to dismiss charges against a helmet manufacturer in a case brought by the parents of a Frostburg State University football player who died of head injuries in August 2011 following four straight days of heavy contact drills in practice.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • GAYLE MANCHIN W.Va. BOE president speaks on issues at WVSDB

    West Virginia Board of Education President Gayle Manchin responded to issues at the West Virginia Schools for the Deaf and the Blind during an interview with the Times-News Wednesday morning.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • REGINALD REDMAN Moorefield man jailed on felony drug count

    A Moorefield man was arrested on various charges Thursday, including a felony drug offense for possession of amphetamines, according to the Keyser Police Department.

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Blossoming optimism Blossoming optimism

    April 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds Cemetery group’s efforts revive Oak Hill grounds

    After you drive Alexander and Furnace streets then navigate a couple of switchbacks on Cemetery Road, you’d figure there would be no more uphill.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • Proposed county budget holds most agencies flat

    After taking into account an income tax shortfall, Allegany County Finance Director Jason Bennett said he’ll propose a budget that holds most outside agencies to flat funding and funds the Board of Education at what county officials say are maintenence of effort levels for 2015.

    April 17, 2014

  • RYAN WOLF Wolf named 2014-15 Garrett Teacher of the Year

    Southern Garrett High School teacher Ryan Wolf has been named the 2014-15 Garrett County Teacher of the Year.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock Rep. Delaney discusses congressional gridlock

    While giving a civics lesson at Frostburg State University on Thursday, U.S. Rep. John Delaney, congressman from Maryland’s sixth district, told students that the polarization in Congress is due primarily to redistricting and a poorly designed Congressional schedule.

    April 17, 2014 1 Photo

Must Read
News related video
Ceremony Marks 19th Anniversary of OKC Bombing Raw: Fire Destroys 3 N.J. Beachfront Homes Raw: Space X Launches to Space Station Man Charged in Kansas City Highway Shootings Obama Awards Navy Football Trophy Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Horseless Carriage Introduced at NY Auto Show Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Beau Biden Plans 2016 Run for Del. Governor Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Obama: 8 Million Healthcare Signups Obama Hopeful on Ukraine, Will Watch Russians U.S. Sending Nonlethal Aid to Ukraine Military