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NFJA in the Media

pressconferenceNFJA made its public debut on October 10, 2003, and has appeared on national television, in local and national print media, and radio to bring awareness of the urgent need for family justice to the general public.

We need to reach the masses and raise public awareness of our plight in order for there to be positive reform for our families and children. Increased public awareness is a first step that can lead to positive change for all of us and our families. Therefore, this is an area in which we are working diligently, and with success.

Please keep checking back to see updates of NFJA in the news.

The Myth of the Successful Child Support System

By Jane Spies, M.S. Ed.

Article updated July 31, 2007


The theme chosen for this paper involves the American values of Freedom and Equality. 

In the land of the free where we enjoy equality and equal opportunity to pursue the American Dream, why is America incarcerating people at an alarming rate? Does everyone in America have the equal opportunity to maintain their freedom and enjoy the liberties that all Americans are supposed to have? 

According to Marc Mauer of the Sentencing Project, the incarceration rate in the United States is "...702 inmates per 100,000 population...". This rate "...situates this nation as the world leader in its use of imprisonment." [1]

The charts on pages 1 and 2 from Mauer's paper, cited above, illustrate this incarceration rate. 

As the reader can see, there is a sharp rise in number of prisoners incarcerated around the years 1976 to 1986. I ask: What happened in the year 1976 or so that caused the alarming increase?

According to Mauer, "Thus, despite the fact that the U.S. has a higher rate of violent crime than other industrialized nations, much of the unprecedented prison population increase of recent years is explained not by crime rates but by changes in sentencing and drug policy."[2] Another logical question would be: 

Is there really more criminal behavior in the United States since the year 1986 or so, or are there just more behaviors "labeled criminal" for which people are being incarcerated? 

I believe that the latter explanation is the more likely one. This is an area that deserves a heightened level of scrutiny because it involves our basic American values - freedom and equality.

The incarceration rate does not seem to be decreasing. Kasie Hunt of The Associated Press (11/30/06) reported: "A record 7 million people or one in every 32 American adults were behind bars, on probation or on parole by the end of last year, according to the Justice Department. Of those, 2.2 million were in prison or jail, an increase of 2.7 percent over the previous year, according to a report released Wednesday."[3]

I find these record statistics astounding. What could be driving this?

See "US notches world's highest incarceration rate: A report highlights extent to which many citizens have served time in prison.",[4] I will examine why this phenomenon may have "emerged" at this particular time. 

Rather than look at the whole picture, I'm going to focus in on one aspect of the problem that I believe contributes to the increased incarceration rate. That is the area of child support enforcement. Based on my research into this issue, this is one area that I believe is little understood and seldom addressed fully.

This is an important question affecting millions of families nationwide. When parents are unjustly incarcerated, they suffer, their children suffer, their spouse suffers, and the grandparents and extended family suffer, also. The social and financial costs of this are tremendous.

On The Open Society Institute website, I found a very important study regarding crucial factors that affect successful community reintegration of ex-prisoners in Baltimore. One of the factors affecting success or failure post-release was finances. An excerpt from the Baltimore study follows:

"Finances: Sixty-two percent of respondents said they were in debt because of child support and other court-imposed fees, which created a significant obstacle as they tried to support themselves financially."[5]
Obviously, in this study, child support issues may have affected a very large proportion of people being released. This study supports my contention that the child support issue urgently needs to be addressed and alleviated to help families and children. 

If people who are incarcerated and released cannot keep up with unrealistic demands for child support while they are in jail, this may contribute to their having to return to incarceration. How can they survive financially and support their families under these misguided policies? Chances are great that they will be returned to prison if they continue to fall behind on paying child support. Furthermore, once they have an incarceration record, finding employment will be more difficult.

Please consider the following examples of child support enforcement gone awry:

--One Albuquerque man was forced to pay child support for five years, to the tune of $20,000, for a baby who he and his current wife insisted did not exist. A judge finally declared that the child was indeed nonexistent. For 5 years the child support system would not believe this man who tried to tell them that there was no child.[6]

--Tony Jackson had to work 2 jobs to pay approximately $13,000 in child support for a child proven by DNA testing not to be his. His current family suffered as he could not afford to take his children out to dinner as his money was being sent to the county to support a child he did not father. Jackson said:

"And it's like somebody put a stake in my heart and I can't move.  It affects me around my family the most."[7]

"I don't--I wouldn't even know what to say to the next man that's in my position. It's a dark alley. There's no light at the end of the tunnel."[8]
Fatima Araiza was one of the attorneys interviewed for the Public Eye story. She represented an undercover Los Angeles police officer who also was being forced to pay child support in the amount of $14,000 for a child who was proven by DNA testing not to be his. He had received a default judgment to pay child support. He said he never received the subpoena.

Attorney Araiza said of her client:

"He's not the father, correct. He's proven it. He's proven he's not the father, but nobody cares. This is no longer the oppression of women; this is now the oppression of men--the oppression of responsible men."[9]

Please keep in mind that these child support payers must pay the support or they can face harsh punitive measures that can be used by states to make payers pay - even when they are not the father. Punitive measures have been toughened up, especially since welfare reform of 1996. People allegedly delinquent in paying court ordered child support can be subject to punitive measures. They can go to jail and lose their freedom, lose their driver's or professional licenses, lose their passports, have bank accounts seized, have their names and faces on websites and newspaper lists of alleged, so-called "deadbeat dads", have credit reports damaged, liens, income tax refunds intercepted, hunting and fishing licenses denied, and wages garnished. This is wrong.[10]

The current system does not treat intact families and non-intact families equally. I contend that many noncustodial parents - men and women - from all walks of life do not have the equal opportunity to maintain their freedom and raise their children according to their own consciences as fit, loving parents. 

Many noncustodial parents and children are deprived of precious time with each other due to "standard visitation" orders, which can be "visits" every other weekend and one night a week. This injustice also affects the parents' families, extended families, and ultimately society. I contend that the unequal treatment is discrimination against single parents and non-intact families. It interferes with good, fit citizens' pursuit of the "American Dream" to which we are all entitled equally and in accordance with principles of social and economic justice.

My research indicates that stories of questionable practices or errors made by child support agencies are far from unusual. In my opinion, based on research, published news reports, audits, and other information, they are commonplace. What if similar stories of errors, bureaucratic bungling, or questionable practices are actually the norm?

Unfortunately, this side of the story of child support collection is not often told in the mainstream media. Misinformation, stereotypes, and partial information about the payment of child support abound. The truth is that the majority of parents love their children and support them financially and emotionally. Child support is financial and emotional.

In addition to errors and questionable practices of agencies, we have the fact that most people who fall behind on their child support payments do not do so willfully. It is not that the majority have the money, and that they simply and willfully refuse to pay. Most of those who don't pay full child support, can't pay, usually due to unemployment, layoffs, illness, or disability, i.e., circumstances or life events that can, and do, befall any one of us, and over which we have no human control. Nevertheless, most parents do the best they can. If left to cope with economic hardship, sometimes with the help of family and friends, they and their children still thrive and can prosper.

The majority of these noncustodial parents are "deadbroke," not so-called "deadbeat." Many of them are in as equally dire financial straits as the custodial parents to whom they pay child support. This is not the picture that we see portrayed, for the most part, in mainstream media. 

Leslie Kaufman of The New York Times wrote an article titled "When Child Support Is Due, Even the Poor Find Little Mercy" (2/19/05). She addressed the issue of "child support arrears". An excerpt follows:

"About 70 percent of the debt is owed by men who earn $10,000 a year or less, or have no recorded wage earnings at all, according to the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement. Less than 4 percent is owed by men with incomes of more than $40,000." [11]
Of course, there are some parents who willfully and consciously refuse to support their children. This is wrong. Research shows that they are not in the majority. 

I believe that, too frequently, when the system incarcerates or uses other punitive measures against allegedly "delinquent" child support payers, it is, in effect, punishing them merely for being poor, ill, or unemployed. As my colleagues, Murray Davis and Dianna Thompson, of the National Family Justice Association wrote, and I paraphrase, society holds noncustodial parents to an unattainable standard to never become unemployed, never become ill or disabled,[12] or to never get layed off, downsized, or outsourced in a poor economy. When they inevitably fail to live up to this unattainable standard, they are criminalized, stigmatized, and, too frequently, jailed.

Based upon my extensive research into this subject, I believe we are seeing what I call the "myth of the successful child support system." Many - but not all - news reports, editorials, or media portrayals of the issue of child support and child support payers are based upon the premise that the current child support system "is working well" or that that the system helps the majority of children and families. I do not agree. 

I'll let the following titles tell the story:

        "Boy Mistakenly Threatened With Jail For Being Deadbeat Dad" 7/27/06; 
       ; Local6.com Orlando [Please also see news video at this web address.]
                    "Schneider: Assault on support deadbeats hits a wrong target" Lansing State Journal, 5/1/03

                     "Man still paying support to deceased wife: Waiting until January to learn if he can stop paying" 10/28/06; Advocate
by Kent Mallett

                     "State keeps kids' money: Unclaimed funds fail to make way to parents"; May 29, 2001; by Kim Kozlowski and Gary
                      Heinlein; The Detroit News

I would not deem this system a success. Just the fact that most states have millions of dollars in undistributed collected child support (UDC)[13] should make citizens question the system. And, in Michigan, after 1 year child support that is not distributed, or is "unclaimed", can be deemed abandoned property and sent to the state treasury.[14] What happens to the child support payers who paid that money? What happens to the families who didn't receive it?

(See chart: http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/cse/pubs/2006/reports/preliminary_report/table_9.html)

I find these kinds of stories of questionable practices of child support agencies practically every day, although some agencies describe situations such as those described above as "rare mistakes."

A news story out of Indiana reports that a custodial mother did not receive her weekly child support checks. Her first thought was that the noncustodial father was late in sending the money. It turns out that apparently he had paid, but the system is holding the checks for 20 days until they clear - a new policy affecting 4,000 people in their area. This is a problem because families depend on that money being properly distributed. (I also believe that 20 days is beyond the amount of time that checks are supposed to be held by law.)

(See "Hamilton County: Child support payments delayed", by Chris Proffitt, Dec. 8, 2006, 13 wthr.com - http://www.wthr.com/Global/story.asp?S=5790021&nav=9Tai).

So we see that the immediate reaction by the receiver of child support, in this case a custodial mother, was that the payer must not have been paying. It's understandable why someone might believe this based upon the erroneous information many people hear almost daily. 

Because of what I have learned about the frequent failings of the system, my first question is always: Did the child support money get "stuck in the system" as undistributed, collected child support", also known as UDC? According to a Fox News report: "Lawmakers on Capitol Hill want to know why nearly $660 million in child support payments collected by states in 2002 never reached the people for whom it was intended."[15]

This common assumption, i.e., that the child support payer is not paying, can cause problems for families, especially where both parents are not in direct communication with each other. How many times do child support receivers think the money wasn't paid, when in reality, the money is 'stuck in the system'? What happens when harsh child support enforcement is implemented, and the data does not accurately reflect a payer's account? 

What Drives This System?

If the overwhelming evidence is that most parents do support their children, what drives this system? What perpetuates this bureaucracy and its misguided policies? How did it emerge at the time in history that it did? If it's having such an adverse effect on millions of people, why aren't we hearing about it every day in the mainstream news?

Regarding the John Stossel ABC News 20/20 report of Jan. 7, 2000:

This report covered the groundbreaking work of psychologist Dr. Sanford Braver and Diane O'Connell who wrote Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths. I believe that the news report itself was also groundbreaking since the thesis that it covered so well runs counter - even today - to the popular view of divorced dads.

According to Dr. Braver: 

"...While I began this research hoping to find answers to why so many fathers abandoned their responsibilities, I discovered that not only were the characterizations of divorced fathers misleading, they were often completely opposite to the truth.

    In short, virtually every aspect of what I call the 'bad divorced dad' image has turned out to be a myth, an inaccurate and damaging stereotype. Not only is this myth seriously inaccurate, it has led to harmful and dangerous social policies."[16]

Braver continues:

"...For any myth as monolithic and powerful as the bad divorced dad myth to invade the popular understanding to the extent it has, society would have to be complicit. The myth would have to fill a need. But what is that need?    The answer is that we as a society are greatly troubled by the breakup of the American family. The devastation caused by the huge uptick in divorce compels us to find a villain in the drama. Clearly it cannot be the children's fault; nor is it fashionable or acceptable to blame mothers or the women's movement. But there is one group remaining in America that it is not socially unacceptable to derogate: Males. Rarely has a group had a poorer image."[17]

I agree with Dr. Braver's conclusion cited above. I also feel that in addition to society's fears or concerns regarding divorce and family breakup, there is also many families' fear of financial ruin. This fear is fueled by the increase in unemployment, especially in certain areas of the country where layoffs, downsizing, and outsourcing are rampant. Costs of food, heating, gasoline, and prescription medications continue to rise, while for many, wages stagnate or decrease. I believe there is a tendency to scapegoat or blame noncustodial parents, most of whom are fathers, when the custodial parent finds herself in dire financial straits. The truth is, most noncustodial parents who may find themselves vilified are in equally dire financial straits. This side of the story frequently does not make it into media reports.

In The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke, Elizabeth Warren (the Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, see p. 255) and Amelia Warren Tyagi, write:

"Tapped Out

Divorced fathers have become a kind of mythic solution. Anyone concerned about the financial distress of single mothers simply joins in the rallying cry to 'Make dads pay more.' Once again, we offer sobering data. There is substantial evidence that millions of fathers are already struggling to make their current payments and may not be able to pay more, regardless of what the courts order. Only 46 percent of divorced fathers own their own homes, a rate that is about half that of married fathers generally. Divorced fathers are also less likely to own a car.51 Indeed, one out of three unmarried, nonresident fathers cannot even maintain their own household and live with their parents or other extended family. 52

...Indeed, nonresident fathers with child support obligations are the only group that approaches single mothers in their extraordinarily high levels of financial distress.

These men are caught in the same financial maelstrom as their ex-wives. ..."[18]

I have seen many news reports where there is a disinclination to listen to or acknowledge the plight of noncustodial parents who are experiencing adverse life events affecting their financial situations. Because of pervasive current, negative stereotypes and prejudice, it is too often assumed, as in the case of "the non-existent baby" cited above (CNN), that the payer is not telling the truth. We, as a society, need to hear the grievances of the families of separation and divorce. Many of them have legitimate grievances and are suffering unjustly. They are not yet being adequately heard.

Dr. Braver discussed the famous statistic of Dr. Lenore Weitzman who reported in her book, The Divorce Revolution, "...that women's households suffered a 73 percent drop in their standard of living in the first year after divorce, while men's households enjoyed a 42 percent rise." [19]

We now know that this famous statistic was wrong, but unfortunately, this statistic was widely cited, according to the Associated Press:

"A search of the Nexis database found more than 175 newspaper and magazine stories citing Weitzman's numbers. Peterson says he also found citations in 348 social science articles, 250 law review articles and 24 appeals and Supreme Court cases. The statistic even appeared in President Clinton's 1996 budget."[20]
The 1996 budget citation of the erroneous Weitzman statistic is a particular problem, in my opinion, since this is the year that welfare reform was enacted. A large part of welfare reform was implementing stricter child support enforcement and the implementation of harsh punitive measures against allegedly delinquent child support payers. According to the Associated Press, "It was a jaw-dropping statistic, widely influential in the movement to change America's divorce and child support laws."[21]

Welfare reform is frequently touted as a major success. I disagree. This side of the issue is not being discussed or even acknowledged adequately. Again we see what I call "the myth of the successful child support system." 

Braver's research showed that men and women "come out almost exactly equally" after divorce when fathers' visitation expenses and tax breaks for custodial mothers are factored in.[22] (Later research shows that there may be financial advantages for custodial parent households.[23]) Stossel's report also states it took Dr. Weitzman more than 10 years to admit her mistake.[24] I believe that many people still do not realize that this statistic and the attitude partially created as a result of it being so widely cited is wrong. Many social policies are based upon this false premise, which is why we need continual mainstream media attention to bring out the truth and to counter the partial information and erroneous information that is currently bandied about. Families are suffering.

If it is wrong, what drives this? What perpetuates the misguided and damaging system? I believe that a lot of the misinformation results from pure inertia and conformity. Some people simply haven't heard the full story, yet, because the information is not yet conspicuously "out there" in the mainstream. It's become so commonplace now to think this way that some people fear to go out on a limb and tell the truth or change their misguided policy or "standard practice." The lack of equal parenting has become standard practice, even though it is wrong and causes profound suffering for children and families. 

It is unfair and hurtful for children for one parent to deprive them of the other loving and fit parent. Children suffer when they can't see the other parent or they can only see him on a "standard visitation schedule," which too frequently is not enforced. We, as a society, should not condone nor encourage this kind of behavior that unjustly separates loving parents from their beloved children. Some noncustodial parents try for years - sometimes to no avail - just to be able to see their own children. This is wrong for children; it's wrong for parents; it's wrong for families. No one benefits and society suffers as a result.

It's blatantly clear. Children need and love both parents. Children need and love their fathers equally as much as they need and love their mothers. Children shouldn't have to miss the other parent because they can't see them as much as they want and need. Tragically, some of the children may be told, or they may think, that the other parent has abandoned them or doesn't care about them, when this is not the truth. Too many parents are prevented from seeing their children, even though they are valiantly trying through the court system to be there for their child. Too many loving, fit parents have not been able to see their children in years. This is tragic and can be prevented.

Our social policies and mass national attitudes must reflect this truth - especially for the children's sake. Too many children of divorce, separation, or family breakup suffer with the broken system as it now stands. Let's change this now. A lot of children will be much happier. Don't make the children wait any longer for positive change. Many of them have already been forced to wait much too long. Let's make sure they can be with both parents now. The first step is awareness of the problem on a national scale.

Some Factors Perpetuating the Myth of the Successful Child Support System

There are some factors that I believe contribute to the perpetuation of the myth of the successful child support system. I'll briefly mention a few here:

--Financial factors in the perpetuation of the system: 

The title tells the story: "Deadbeat parents liven company coffers" (9/25/97)

[Excerpt:] "Tracking down deadbeat parents is good business for high-tech companies, including BDM International Inc., McLean, Va., Policy Studies Inc., Denver, and Lockheed Martin Corp., Bethesda, Md."[25]

Corporate America has discovered that they can make a lucrative business based upon state contracts to pursue alleged, so-called "deadbeat parents." Some private collection agencies can take 30 percent of the child support money collected.[26]

States make federal money off the collection of child support through incentive funding and matching funds while U.S. taxpayers lose money overall at the federal level.

(See government chart, 2004 Green Book, Table 8-5, page 8-66 at: http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_green_book&docid=f:wm006_08.pdf.

The House Ways and Means Committee 2004 Green Book can also be accessed via:http://www.gpoaccess.gov/wmprints. See Browse 2004 Green Book - Section 8. http://www.gpoaccess.gov/wmprints/green/2004.html)

The House Ways and Means "Green Book" discusses "social ostracism" of so-called "deadbeat parents." But, if the majority of payers have no control over the conditions, such as layoffs, illness, disability, and unemployment that contribute to their difficulty in complying with an unattainable standard, for what are we really ostracizing them - for being poor, ill, or unemployed? 

An excerpt from page 8-68 of the 2004 Green Book follows: 

"Even more to the point, a strong child support program may change the way society thinks about child support. As in the cases of civil rights and smoking, a persistent effort over a period of years may convince millions of Americans, both those who owe child support and those concerned with the condition of single-parent families, that making payments is a moral and civic duty. Those who avoid it would then be subject to something even more potent than legal prosecution--social ostracism."[27]
This policy of creating an unfair, oppressive climate of social ostracism, which adversely affects innocent families, is wrong. As explained above, the majority of child support payers are not willfully avoiding making payments, yet they and their families are unjustly subjected to damaging stereotypes and misguided social policies.

It is an acknowledged fact that the majority of parents love their children and support them financially and emotionally. This is as it should be. If left to cope with economic setbacks, most parents and their families will do so, sometimes with the help of extended family, friends, or their local community. On the other hand, if they are subjected to harsh and unfair punitive measures that interfere with their ability to cope, many will fail - unnecessarily. This situation can be prevented.

The rationale behind many arguments for initiatives intended to increase child support payment compliance is wrong. Initiatives to build a "credible threat," (as one state official put it) against alleged nonpayers, to create a climate of "social ostracism" or to create a "culture of compliance" are misguided, to say the least. These initiatives are anti-working family. Here's why:

They are based upon the false premise that most of the pursued parents have the money to pay the ordered amount of child support, they simply willfully and knowingly refuse to pay. This is not true. Most parents who don't pay, can't pay, as explained above. Noncustodial parents, and their families and extended families, are being held to an "unattainable standard," also described above. If people are held to an unattainable standard, they will inevitably fail. 

Few people can meet the rigid, unreasonable standard expected of these parents. Who in their lifetime does not experience a financial setback such as unemployment, layoffs, outsourcing, lack of ability to find available decent-paying work in a timely fashion, illness, disability, or simply a car breaking down or an unexpected household repair needing money to fix?

There is nothing "credible" about these relentless initiatives. They are actually quite cruel, unfair, and unreasonable. They scare countless innocent families. This system was not originally intended to become as huge and unwieldy as it now is, or as unnecessarily expensive as it now is for the U.S. taxpayers. The social and economic costs to society are enormous.

Furthermore, this policy is flat-out anti-family. It's time that we, as a society, face this fact and its ramifications and costs to our families and society as a whole. We can correct this if we first acknowledge and correctly "diagnose" the problems with the current system.

The current misguided and ill-informed initiative that seeks to create a climate of "social ostracism" instead, creates an unjust cloud of oppression that hangs over innocent working families, - men, women, and their children - who are simply struggling, like many others, to make ends meet in a poor economy. It is a policy that is cruel, whether the resulting cruelty is unintentional or intentional. Working families and deadbroke parents are being hurt, not helped, by this misguided effort and unfair stigmatization. 

Some may think, or even say, that they are doing a community service by participating in aggressive campaigns to stigmatize parents allegedly behind in paying child support, but this is wrong. This misguided social policy is not a community service. It is mean-spirited and a disservice to our communities and families - and to the U.S. taxpayers.

What's being done in the name of "helping families" is truly shameful. It is not helping the majority of struggling working families - it is hurting them. It is anti-family.

The good news is that this can be corrected with the correct information and accurate diagnosis of the real problem. Increased media attention to the plight of millions of noncustodial parents and their families and children will play a large part in correcting this injustice. Again, as in history, America always wakes up. It's time for true understanding and compassion for all families. 

I believe that our society is now gripped by a kind of "deadbeat McCarthyism." 

What Is The Solution? 

I look to non-violent movements in the past that sought social and economic justice for all. There have been times in our history where we, as a society, embarked upon ill-advised, discriminatory, even cruel policies against innocent citizens based upon negative stereotypes, prejudice, or misguided information. The same human dynamic is now operating. It's just a different time in history.

In the past, our legal system even jailed innocent people who simply were demanding their fundamental rights. The list of those arrested or incarcerated includes: Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Lucy Burns - all suffragists - Mrs. Rosa Parks, and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

When I examine the dynamics of what is going on today, I see many parallels with the suffragist movement, the Salem witch trials, 1950s McCarthyism, and the 1960s Civil Rights movement.

For example, please consider this passage regarding Women's Suffrage:

"The new Constitution's promised rights were fully enjoyed only by certain white males. Women were treated according to social tradition and English common law and were denied most legal rights. In general they could not vote, own property, keep their own wages, or even have custody of their children."[28]
The last sentence could apply today to some noncustodial parents. 

The good news is that there is hope for the new parental civil rights movement. As in the past, America always wakes up as it did at the time of the events of Salem around 1692, the Suffragist movement, the McCarthy era, and the 1960s Civil Rights movement. When the mainstream media "discovers" this issue that affects millions of parents, families, and children, the societal norms, attitudes, and enforcement of unjust laws will change for the better. When the suffering of innocent citizens is "demonstrated" and understood, there will be positive change and social justice. 

For example, the people in Salem woke up to the horror of what they were doing after hanging obviously innocent people such as 71-year-old Rebecca Nurse. McCarthyism was eventually exposed for the damage that it did to countless innocent people, and America woke up after suffragists were jailed simply because they wanted their fundamental right to vote.

As in the past, I believe publicity will play a large part in helping America find the solution. According to the book The Race Beat: The Press, The Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation by Gene Roberts and Hank Klibanoff, it apparently took quite a while before the mainstream press consistently covered the movement.

According to David J. Garrow of The New York Times, in a review (11/22/06) of The Race Beat: The Press, The Civil Rights Struggle, and the Awakening of a Nation (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2006):

"... In the South, Mr. Roberts and Mr. Klibanoff explain, 'one of the secrets of the success of segregation had been the way newspapers had neglected it.' Even the most heralded Southern editor, Ralph McGill of The Atlanta Constitution, 'consistently opposed federal laws against lynching and the poll tax' and had written that separation of the races was 'the best and only workable system.' Nationally, too, most white journalists of that era 'simply didn't recognize racism in America as a story.' ..." [29]

I believe that the mainstream media has not yet "discovered" the story of the plight of millions of fit, loving parents and the violations of their fundamental civil rights to parent their own children, as they see fit and without unjust state intrusion into the private realm of family. Although a thorough and excellent news story occasionally appears nationally, such as the John Stossel ABC News report of 2000 and the Bernard Goldberg CBS News report of 1998, I believe it will take much more, continual, accurate mainstream media coverage in order to counter the negative stereotypes, misinformation, and misguided portrayals that are prevalent in some mainstream media currently. 

I am convinced that when historians look back upon this current time period, some of the court decisions of today will look as unconscionable as the Plessy v Ferguson (1896) decision does now. 

A study of non-violent social movements of the past gives clues about how America will eventually wake up to the injustice of this time of irrational policies toward fit, loving parents and their families. America will wake up.

I would like to end on a note of hope with this excerpt from a speech by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:

"... We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. That will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man.

    I know you are asking today, 'How long will it take?' I come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth pressed to earth will rise again.

    How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.

    How long? Not long, because you still reap what you sow. 

    How long? Not long. Because the arm of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice. ..."[30]


[1] Marc Mauer, The Sentencing Project: "Comparative International Rates of Incarceration; An Examination of Causes and Trends; Presented to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights", 6/20/03, page 2.  http://www.sentencingproject.org/Admin/Documents/publications/inc_comparative_intl.pdf

[2] Ibid., page 7

[3] Kasie Hunt; Associated Press; November 30, 2006; ABC News website; "1 in 32 Americans in Jails, on Parole" http://abcnews.go.com/US/LegalCenter/wireStory?id=2689183&CMP=OTC-RSSFeeds0312

[4] The Christian Science Monitor, August 18, 2003, "US notches world's highest incarceration rate: A report highlights extent to which many citizens have served time in prison.", by Gail Russell Chaddock. http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0818/p02s01-usju.html

[5] Open Society Institute, OSI- Baltimore news release, 3/15/04, "Groundbreaking Study Identifies Crucial Factors for Successful Community Reintegration of Ex-Prisoners in Baltimore"http://www.soros.org/initiatives/baltimore/news/groundbreaking_20040315

[6] CNN transcript, 3/29/05, http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0503/29/ltm.05.html (At the CNN page, scroll down for cited segment.)

[7] CBS News transcript, 6/17/98, CBS Public Eye, "Men wrongly accused of being deadbeat dads being forced to pay child support even though they've proved they are not the father", Bernard Goldberg reports

[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid.

[10] Cornell University Law School, U. S. Code collection, http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode42/usc_sec_42_00000666----000-.html

[11] Leslie Kaufman, The New York Times, 2/19/05, "When Child Support Is Due, Even the Poor Find Little Mercy"

[12] Dianna Thompson and Murray Davis, 10/26/03, Lansing State Journal op-ed, "Child support system doesn't give parents a chance: rather than shame for pressed parents how about help?" http://www.nfja.org/newsrelease/2003-10-26.shtml

[13] National Family Justice Association position paper, Nov. 17, 2005, http://www.nfja.org./positionstatement/childsupportbudgetcuts.shtml

[14]Kim Kozlowski and Gary Heinlein; The Detroit News "State keeps kids' money: Unclaimed funds fail to make way to parents"; May 29, 2001. http://www.detnews.com/specialreports/2001/friend/tues0529a/tues0529a.htm

[15] Kelley Beaucar Vlahos, "State-Collected Child Support Not Reaching Beneficiaries, Fox News, 10/3/03 http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,98973,00.html

[16] Sanford L. Braver, Ph.D., and Diane O'Connell, Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths (New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Putnam, 1998), page 6

[17] Ibid., page 14

[18] Elizabeth Warren & Amelia Warren Tyagi, The Two-Income Trap: Why Middle-Class Parents Are Going Broke (New York: Basic Books, 2003), page 119-120

[19] Katharine Webster, The Associated Press, 5/17/96, "Study: Huge Gap Reported in Post-Divorce Standard of Living a Mistake"

[20] Ibid.

[21] Ibid.

[22] John Stossel, ABC News 20/20, Jan. 7, 2000, "BAD DADS?; MYTHS ABOUT DEADBEAT DADS MOSTLY UNTRUE", transcript

[23] Sanford Braver Ph.D. David Stockburger, Ph.D., "Child support guidelines and the equalization of living standards", http://www.public.asu.edu/~devra1/stock.pdf (2004). In W. S. Comanor (Ed.). The Law and Economics of Child Support Payments (pp. 91-127). Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.

[24] John Stossel, ABC News 20/20, Jan. 7, 2000, "BAD DADS?; MYTHS ABOUT DEADBEAT DADS MOSTLY UNTRUE", transcript

[25] Neil Munro, Washington Technology"Deadbeat Parents Liven Company Coffers", 9/25/97. http://www.washingtontechnology.com/print/12_12/12435-1.html

[26] Catherine Crier show, Court TV, broadcast, August 8, 2000

[27] House Ways and Means Committee "Green Book". 2004, Page 8-68.  http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_green_book&docid=f:wm006_08.pdf

[28] Roberta W. Francis, The History Behind the Equal Rights Amendment, http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/era.htm

[29] David J. Garrow, The New York Times, 11/22/06, "Books of the times: How the Press Reported on Racism, and How It Didn't"

[30] Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., speech 3/25/65 about the march from the Edmund Pettus Bridge, Selma to Montgomery, A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings of Martin Luther King, Jr., edited by James Melvin Washington (San Franscisco, Harper & Row: 1986) page 230