Delinquent Dads should go to work instead of jail

Delinquent dads in prison: Is there a better solution to the problem?

Delinquent dads in prison: Is there a better solution to the problem?

Child maintenance cases are on the rise, but unfortunately for some men, they fall victim to some of their unthinking, jealous or vindictive child(ren)’s mothers. They aren’t bothered whether the father is working or has another source of income. The end result is that those unfortunate fathers end up at Bordelais! There are also some mothers who know nothing about bringing up a child. They abuse and ill-treat the children, but yet, it is beyond me as to why a mother has not been hauled before the courts for child maintenance. I am yet to see that day!

Putting that aside, this is a huge problem at Bordelais. The place is already overcrowded and this is a serious issue. Now, when that delinquent father gets to Bordelais, does that means he is a criminal? He may be deemed to be a civil prisoner, but he is no criminal. But rest assured, when he gets there, he will be placed among seasoned criminals. This is where the school of hard knocks comes into play! Are we training him for a criminal life? Let’s look at the logistics.

Let’s say a father is sent to serve six months for not paying two thousand dollars of child support; this is what happens: When that father reaches Bordelais, he must get his uniforms, eating utensils, toiletries, a place to sleep and three square meals a day. Every day that he spends at Bordelais comes at a price, because he is on “state welfare.”

A six month stay at Bordelais, plus all those factors mentioned above, will surpass much more than the two thousand dollars owed, and at whose expense? The taxpayer! Isn’t that absurd and ridiculous? So there the father, sitting pretty in jail for the next six months, and the child gets nothing during that period. What happens to the mother who signed the warrant
for his arrest? She also gets nothing [while he is incarcerated.]

So tell me, then, who is at a loss? I guess it’s the state, because he MUST be taken care of at the facility. Wow! What would you call that ‘NOMICS? Court-a-nomics? State-of-nomics? I call it sheer stupidity! There is a saying that goes like this (translate in Creole) “wash your hands and wipe it on the ground” is it really worth it? I don’t think so!

I recall in 2004 I wrote a document to the Human Services people, or what we affectionately call “Social Welfare.” In the document, I made some recommendations that should be considered to curb that situation. Mind you, do not take me wrong, I do not support a father who has a job and doesn’t feed his child. He should be dealt with! But with the current economic climate, jobs don’t come easy, and many fathers are made redundant, so there is no income.

I suggested that rather than sending a delinquent father to jail, the Welfare Department should adopt the STEP program or something similar. The Magistrate would use his or her discretion to place the delinquent father in the program, which would
be mandatory. When he gets his earnings, a percentage goes to the child and the father keeps the balance. Therefore, the father stays out of jail and the child gets something, even it is not much.

In these tough economic times, belt-tightening should be considered in the court system. At Bordelais, the cost factor to maintain the facility and feed those “criminals” is huge, and creates a lot of burdens for us. When an inmate is sent up or remanded for a misdemeanor, it clogs up the jail. The cost is added to a cash-strapped Government. In the past, community service or extra-mural sentences were the alternatives to prison. These need to be reinstituted in order to reduce the inmate population.

I do hope that someone will read this and see the merit in it. This is serious business and leaves a lot to be desired.

Etheldred James is a Saint Lucian Corrections Officer with sixteen years of experience in the local prison system.

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11 Responses to Delinquent Dads should go to work instead of jail

  1. Fer De Lance says:

    All Governments are cunning, they manufacture debt and all kinds of crisis to keep you in fear so that they may exploit you. They have conditioned the masses into believing that the Governments hold and have all the solutions for a better life. It is like a crack dealer secretly getting the society hooked on drugs and then prescribing all sorts of nonsense to make you better. They are causing the problem and faking the solutions, so basically St. Lucia you are screwed by the big jelly belly man. BETTER DAYS.

  2. galanjoseph says:

    I had suggested that way before 2004. It it were up to ploiticians they would not care. Does the current PM see it as a way to reduce expenditure? Not that i know of. I had advocated that they in fact be placed on a farm in the vicnity of Bordelais but allowed to go home on evenings. They would be productive to the agicultural sector isn’t that marvelous?

  3. Woodsman says:

    … cont’d from above

    maintain their other children or to fund lavish lifestyles. If that is the case then these fathers should apply for custody or request from the mother exactly what is needed and acquire or pay for it themselves. These deadbeats forget that the mothers have to prepare meals, do laundry, keep school appointments, shop, provide and maintain a living space, etc, etc for the children. So while I don not condone wasting maintenance money on herself, these guys have no case moaning over every cent.

    In my view these clowns are getting off lightly.

  4. Woodsman says:

    By the writer’s logic no employable convict should be jailed because following incarceration, their earning power and contribution to society are likewise severely curtailed. While there are genuine cases of fathers who are unable to afford child maintenance payments, many of them can and simply don’t. I have zero sympathy when this latter group – comparable to vermin in my view – are caged. Any individual who deliberately refuses to provide the necessary support to his offspring does not deserve to be roaming freely. The sick reasoning for their negligence is that they are denied sexual favours by the mothers. Some use another pathetic argument that the mothers use the funds to…

  5. say say says:

    Unless it is a rape situation, a man and a woman who decide to sleep with each other or in many situations, a man who decides to sleep with multiple women know before hand that there is a strong possibility their action could produce another human being; they also should know of their ability to support a child. It is 2014 why don’t people be responsible by using condoms or other methods of birth control to avoid a pregnancy that they are ill prepared for. The answer is, If you cannot support a child or children, do not bring them into the world to face starvation and a bleak future.

  6. Fer De Lance says:

    Birth control needs to become the religion of St. Lucia. When you send dead broke fathers to jail you are sending them to the university of criminality, you are exposing normal human beings to deviants of the society, and the people you hang around have a profound influence on you. Jail is a fear factor system, it does nothing in educating or growing a better human being, it simply is a drastic reaction of the society, an almost classification into becoming a sub human entity, who can now be abused by police, by economics of non suitability to all jobs and a human who feels worthless and desperate. Jail is a criminal maker.

  7. lisa says:

    see what merit!!! It’s about time these father was send to jail. most of the mothers do not have jobs jobs, yet they manage somehow. these men say they don’t have a job; then why are they continue going out there having girlfriends after girlfriends and having unprotected sex. if the mother can stay without to make sure their children are feed, so should the fathers. most of these men a selfish; and believe if they are not enjoying the women any more \, that they shouldn’t have to give her a penny. most of these men want sex from the women in order to support their children ( no sex, no money). I had a family member who would support his girlfriends children and would not gives…

  8. Trevlyn Bonaparte says:

    Mr James, I recognise that the Bordelais facility currently has the issue of overcrowding. However, where I totally disagree with is your opinion of men who do not feed their children. In my opinion a man who does not feed his children is no different from a rapist , thief or murderer. Bordelais is plagued with too many young men who grew up without their fathers in their lives- carry out a survey at Bordelais among the prisoners Mr. james, you would realise that the majority of them came from fatherless home and their fathers played no role in their upbringing. St. Lucia is plagued with this issue. So many men refuse to maintain their kids as soon as the sexual relationship with their…

  9. Frank says:

    I do agree with the writer and will add to that; when this man returns home from jail, he will have more difficulties finding a job, now that he’s been in jail and the child will also have to live with this embarrassment all it’s life. it’s a lost, lost situation and there must be a better way.

    • Trevlyn Bonaparte says:

      Frank trust me a stint in prison and all of a sudden he have the money to pay- he will get it from his relatives, girlfriend wherever but child support becomes more regular.

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