Child Support and Reentry
As a part of their Addressing Challenges in Reentry and Human Services series of white papers addressing the payment of fines and fees, securing employment, and access to human services post-release, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ) released this white paper focused on what social scientists and policy analysts have learned about how child support, criminal justice, and reentry are related.
According to the report's authors, over the past four decades, the United States has experienced an expansion of the criminal justice system and the public child support system. There are now over two million citizens in U.S. prisons and jails and another five million under correctional supervision. The child support system also has grown to new levels. Over the past 30 years, there has been a tenfold increase in child support debt. The majority of the 5.5 million parents who owe this debt, according to the authors, have extremely low incomes.
This report discusses that, in many respects, developments in these two public arenas are interconnected, with rising imprisonment contributing to rising child support debt and rising child support debt contributing to rising imprisonment. Parents caught in the middle of these trends can find their post-prison reintegration particularly difficult and challenging, say the authors. Social scientists and researchers have only recently begun to analyze these interconnections. There is now an emergent body of research that addresses how criminal justice and child support work together to shape reentry for this population of parents.