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A recent story in the New York Times will show many of our Visalia, California readers how certain elements of the criminal justice system just don’t work. The story centers on how missed child support payments can lead to a terrible downward spiral that constantly ends with the individual losing their job, landing in jail, racking up more penalties and fees on their child support, and then, unable to find a job due to their criminal past, they miss child support payments.

It’s a vicious cycle, and it very well could have played a role in the death of a man who fled the police. Granted, he shouldn’t have fled the police in the first place — but he had been in the missed child support cycle for too long, and eventually it took its toll on him. He may have fled the police — over a broken taillight — simply because the system had finally made the man reach a breaking point. And what we’re trying to say is that that breaking point maybe shouldn’t exist in the first place.

Our criminal justice system shouldn’t drive people to the brink because a past offense makes them not hireable. This system should send people into an endless loop of minor criminal offenses that put them right back into jail — and right back into that not-hireable position.

Alas, that is the system we have, and for those that are accused of an offense need to defend themselves aggressively to make sure they don’t get trapped by this cycle. In a way, this story isn’t about child support. It isn’t even necessarily about a specific crime. Instead, it is about the unforgiving and unfair system we have right now — and how anyone accused of a crime must fight for their rights and their lives when they are accused of a crime.

Source: New York Times, “Skip Child Support. Go to Jail. Lose Job. Repeat.,” Frances Robles and Shaila Dewan, April 19, 2015

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