The CPS Effect: The Poor, Family Courts & Child Protective Services


What Is The CPS Effect?

The victims involved in this CPS-driven ring fit into certain categories.

They are as follow:

  1. Immigrants (Easy targets for child removal since some of these people are sometimes undocumented and/or do not speak English)
  2. The Poor (Since these cases often hit Family Courts lawyers are not appointed. This means that the poor are disproportionately affected by poor legal representation.)
  3. The Mentally-Ill (Self-Explanatory)
  4. Military Veterans/Police Officers/First-Responders (This fits into category #3 but this is a special case. Since PTSD diagnosis has been used in Family Court decisions it is more likely that the people who occupy or have occupied these professions will have their PTSD used against them.)
  5. The Peacefully Disobedient (If a person ever publicly criticizes a judge, CPS, a court or a politician linked to a judge or government agency that person runs the risk of retaliation via CPS or Family Courts.)

The Poor, Family Courts & Child Protective Services

The poor are a likely target for the termination of parental rights. More than a third of all termination of parental rights orders (TPR) happens to the poor or impoverished.

Read More: https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/cb/cm2015.pdf#page=29

Many poor people lack the essential resources required to raise a child and provide sufficient food, shelter, safety, etc.

Excessive Child Support Orders can negatively impact the poor and create a cycle of debt and imprisonment, Via The Urban Institute, Read More: https://www.urban.org/urban-wire/child-support-enforcement-can-hurt-black-low-income-noncustodial-fathers-and-their-kids

However, there is another section of the poor. Those people were not poor due to life circumstances. Instead, those people became poor due to Family Courts and CPS. There are also people who are poor and, as a result of their impoverished status, become easy targets for TPR.

On November 16, 2018, Elizabeth Brico wrote a piece featuring her own story about poverty and Child Protective Services.

Brico’s case featured what appears to be a miscarriage of justice. Her children were removed from her despite the fact that an investigator for CPS specifically stated the children showed no signs of abuse or neglect. Brico’s parental rights were terminated.

Quoted From The Article:

“The investigation led to a dependency trial, where the investigator made it clear that my daughters showed no signs of abuse or neglect. I lost anyway. There are no juries involved in child welfare cases, and the burden of proof is lighter than in criminal cases: It only requires a “preponderance of the evidence,” which means the judge’s ruling depends on their personal opinion. In this case, the judge didn’t think I was a credible witness, so she ruled against me.” – Elizabeth Brico

The poor have often run into the preponderance of the evidence. In short, this means that a Family Court Judge has the discretion to judge a case based on opinion.

Elizabeth Brico, Via Filter Mag, Read More: https://filtermag.org/six-months-since-my-daughters-were-taken-heres-how-the-system-punishes-past-drug-use/

Let’s say there is a judge who doesn’t like long and drawn out cases and has a preferred conclusion for a case.

If a Pro-Se Litigant, or a person who represents themselves in court, were to come before a Family Court Judge without any legal credentials behind them there could be a potential issue with that judge. With the preponderance of the evidence a judge could rule in a way that is completely unlawful or unethical and a Pro-Se Litigant wouldn’t necessarily have the legal training required to counter such a ruling or know when to initiate an appeal.

“Child protective services is an umbrella term used to describe individual local agencies. They are governed by standards set at the federal level but operate independently in each state, and city-level jurisdictions set their own policies to manage reports of neglect or abuse. This means that location plays an enormous role in CPS response. Families who live in an area experiencing an economic boom are more likely to receive support, like help turning the water back on if it was shut off for nonpayment, while families in more depressed areas are less likely to have resources available to them. Because of the subjectivity of these cases, it’s likely the politics of the judges and caseworkers play a large role as well.”

-Elizabeth Brico

The poor are subject to living conditions that could be sufficient for child-rearing but simply appear to be less-than-suitable conditions. There is also a lack of social support given to poor parents living in rural areas where support services are not as plentiful as compared to a big city. If these basic services are lacking then paying a retainer for a Family Law Attorney could prove to be difficult.

Court officials and politicians are well aware of the plight of the poor in individual states. In states such as South Carolina, the lawmakers, many of them attorney-legislators, pick the judges who rule in Family Court cases. If both the judges and lawmakers are aware that South Carolina is a state where social service use and poverty are high then shaping a system that is driven off of the funds of the poor and destitute makes financial sense.


Child Support & Poor Parents

It is common to see parents locked up for the refusal or inability to pay child support.

The University of Chicago released a study that focused on the demographics of fathers who do not pay child support.

Quoted from the abstract:

“About 2.5 million nonresident fathers are poor and do not pay child support. Most of them face multiple employment barriers, just like poor custodial mothers, but are significantly less likely than those mothers to participate in work‐support programs such as training, education, job search activities, or income security programs. Without access to work‐support programs, these fathers will remain unable to provide the financial support that their children need. Given that Congress expects poor nonresident fathers to support their children, it may want to consider directing work‐support programs to them so that they can fulfill their financial obligations to their children.”

The University of Chicago is basically saying that many poor fathers are subject to child support payments without any foreseeable relief. Both the Federal Government and State Governments, through U.S. Family Courts, have created a situation where poor fathers are continuously punished just for being poor. If one cannot afford child support payments then the next step is jail time.

Read More: https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/322221?seq=1

There are parents who have been jailed or threatened with jail for failure to pay child support. This is the case even in situations where parents are not intentionally avoiding child support payments.

Jahmal Holmes, truck driver being threatened with the removal of his license for missing child support payments. Via The New York Times.

In 2015, The New York Times reported on the shooting of Walter Scott. In this article, Jahmal Holmes, a South Carolina truck driver, was mentioned.

Mr. Holmes was being threatened with the removal of his license if he didn’t pay his child support payments on time. This was despite the fact that Mr. Holmes was a truck driver. He wasn’t avoiding payments or trying to hide. A person who is in hiding doesn’t go to the New York Times for an interview.

Quoted from The New York Times article:

“Jahmal Holmes, 28, is a current participant in the Father to Father program in North Charleston. He has two children, 4 and 8, and said he had agreed to court-ordered child support because he had been told that it was a requirement for their mother to receive Medicaid. The two have since broken up and share custody of the younger child, but he is still required to pay support for both.

Mr. Holmes said he did not realize that if he fell behind on payments, he would face jail. “I am behind now, and they are threatening to suspend my driver’s license — and I’m a truck driver,” he said.”

The Times took a different approach than most other news outlets in discussing more than just the shooting of Mr. Scott. Instead, The Times discussed the reason why Walter Scott ran from former North Charleston Police Officer Michael Slager.

Read More: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/20/us/skip-child-support-go-to-jail-lose-job-repeat.html

Some members of Walter Scott’s family stated that Walter Scott ran because of the record he had. His crime was that he missed a child support payment. This wasn’t a violent crime. Despite the fact that Mr. Scott, by all available accounts, wasn’t a violent man he was still entered into the NCIC which is a federal database usually reserved for violent and dangerous individuals.

This listing isn’t usually reserved for civil violations. The Daily Counter has former correctional officers on staff who state this listing is usually for criminal violations.

This is quoted from a previous article written by The Daily Counter’s Dion McNeil concerning the shooting of Walter Scott, addressing a South Carolina Representative and the NCIC:

“Walter Scott’s only “criminal” offense was missing a child support payment. His family and others have noted that Walter was just a poor man. He lost his job because he couldn’t afford to pay the child support payment amount and, as a result of the criminal record, finding a job that could earn him the payment amount was difficult.

When Officer Slager encountered Walter Scott that officer met this man in North Charleston.

This city is well-noted as dangerous. WCOS reported that some parts, such as Ashley Phosphate Road, has been described by many South Carolina Uber and Lyft drivers as a place where nobody wants to pick up a rider at nighttime. North Charleston has been consistently ranked as one of the most dangerous cities in all of the United States of America with a violent crime rate of 921 per 100,000 residents.

Read More: https://975wcos.iheart.com/content/2019-10-25-sc-most-dangerous-city/

Officer Slager, realizing that North Charleston was a dangerous place, was probably already on high alert. That officer saw that Walter Scott was on the NCIC in this same dangerous area. When Walter Scott ran that added to the situation going south. If Walter Scott had not been on the NCIC in this area perhaps he might still be alive today.”

Read more: https://thedailycounter.com/south-carolina-representative-beth-bureaucrat-bernstein/

The combination of the area the police encounter occurred, the record, the NCIC admission, and an officer seeing a fleeing man all contributed to the death of Walter Scott. A man died because he was too poor to pay. It wasn’t as if he avoided paying either. His own daughter said he didn’t avoid paying.

Quoted from The New York Times article:

“Samantha Scott, a daughter from Mr. Scott’s first relationship, said she had never heard her own mother complain about a lack of support. “If he had money, he would give it to us,” she said.”

While some might agree that locking up a parent for not paying child support is a good thing there are other factors to consider. Look at the Walter Scott case. Mr. Scott fell behind on his payments in 2002.

What was he supposed to do during the 2008 recession when the whole country was suffering? Was he supposed to find a job with a criminal record over a missed child support payment when unemployment numbers skyrocketed during that period? Is there any possibility that Walter Scott and many other parents are set up to fail?

Read More: https://www.thebalance.com/the-great-recession-of-2008-explanation-with-dates-4056832


Conclusion

The United States of America is supposed to be a country where the poor can lift themselves out of poverty. This cannot happen when the poor are having their children taken from them and parents are being forced to pay ridiculous sums of money in court fees, lawyer fees and/or child support payments.

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