Signs reduce jail time for child support offenders

6:24 PM, Mar 8, 2012   |    comments
Parents who are serving time in jail for not paying child support stand outside the Bell County Justice Center Thursday.
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Some prisoners in Bell County, Kentucky are becoming human billboards for not paying their child support.

Bell County Attorney Neil Ward came up with the idea.

"In the past, the judge made people wear a sandwich board when they shoplifted," the county attorney said.  "Our intention is not to embarrass or humiliate anybody.  Our intention is to hold people accountable."

Ward just changed the words on the signs.  The boards read, "I do not pay child support".

Offenders who are currently incarcerated for the crime can fulfill their sentence or get their jail time suspended by paying money and wearing the sign outside the county justice building.  The sidewalk stroll lasts for four hours a day for 10 days.

"If they don't do the time or pay their child support, they will have to go back and finish their sentence," Ward said.  "We just started Monday.  We had three people in jail we thought qualified for it and we asked them if they wanted to do it.  They all three readily agreed."

People walking into the justice center supported the sign program.

"I like the idea," said Deborah Harrison of Bell County.  "They're out in the rain, but hey."

"We have millions that don't pay child support.  I was just wondering where the rest of everyone is," asked Bell County resident Tammy Saylor.

The offenders taking part in the program Thursday did not want to talk on camera.  However, they said they get and earful of negative comments from people passing by.

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