YSRP, the Justice Lab at Temple Law School and Juvenile Law Center were profiled for their efforts in ending the City of Philadelphia’s decades-long practice of charging parents for the cost of their children’s incarceration in the juvenile justice system. In her March 3, 2017 Inquirer article Under Fire, Philly Stops Suing Parents of Incarcerated Kids for Child Support, reporter Samantha Melamed outlines the Philadelphia Department of Human Services’ move to end the practice. DHS Commissioner Cynthia Figueroa testified at Friday’s special Council Hearing on the department’s decision to end the practice. In the article, Ms. Melamed highlights the impact of fine and fee collection on the working-poor parents who are most often affected by the practice. Citing the role of advocates in raising awareness about this issue, Melamed writes:
‘People are having to make choices you would hope no parent would have to make,’ YSRP cofounder Lauren Fine said.
One father told YSRP he had debated whether to advocate for his son’s case to be moved from adult to juvenile court. Though juvenile court would be a better outcome for his son, it would mean he would be charged child support he couldn’t afford.
At the hearing, Kameelah Davis-Spears, a mother of four who works 62 hours a week at a low-wage security job, told Council how the city garnishees $13.71, plus a $2 processing fee, from her weekly check. The West Philadelphia woman said that was the end to pizza night for her kids, their one luxury after climbing out of deep poverty and living in shelters.
‘I can’t do the little things with my family that are important to us,’ she said.