CLAY COUNTY — Clay County Prosecuting Attorney Daniel White’s second warrant amnesty program for child support offenders saw 40 non-custodial parents reignite financial payments on delinquent support.
This is also coupled with a recent state report that shows Clay County leads the state in percentage of paying child support cases. Clay County – at 65 percent paying – ranks just ahead of the Jackson County’s 64.68 percent.
“It’s a remarkable achievement for both offices,” said White. “With our amnesty effort, we connected with 270 individuals who had outstanding misdemeanor, contempt and felony child support warrants and told them that if they came in and paid a modest amount, the warrant would be lifted giving them a chance to get back to work and back to making payments.”
While the amnesty gave non-custodial parents a break on the amount of their warrant, the child support case is still pending with the full amount remains owed, said White.
“This is our office’s opportunity to re-engage with folks we’ve not had contact with in a while,” the prosecutor said.
Last year, 255 letters were delivered and 90 non-custodial parents came into the office, posted the reduced bond and had their warrant recalled. Re-engaging with this population resulted in more than 130 Clay County custodial parents receiving child support.
“The amnesty program is an excellent opportunity for those who want to get on track to get on track. No one benefits from someone who can pay delinquent support being locked up. By getting them off the radar and back to work, everyone comes out better,” said the prosecutor.
The amnesty program saved taxpayers money, White said, by reducing the costs associated with serving warrants and housing those individuals.
“It costs at least $200 to serve a warrant and that’s if everything goes according to plan,” said the prosecutor. “If deputies have to spend days, weeks, months tracking someone down, the cost is higher and resources expended that could be used elsewhere.”
Each inmate detained in the Clay County Detention Center costs the county $75.48 per day, added the prosecutor.
“If each of the 130 non-custodial parents that took advantage of the amnesty program in the past two years had the warrant served and been incarcerated just 24 hours, housing those men and women would have cost taxpayers over $9,800. Housing costs alone for one week of incarceration for those 130 non-custodial parents would have been over $68,000, and that’s just for seven days,” said the prosecutor.
White said he and his staff have not decided if there will be a third warrant amnesty effort.
“So much depends on how these who have taken advantage of it pan out,” said the prosecutor. “We see progress, but we want to have a few more months experience behind us before we decide if we’re going to do this again.”