In 1990,, Lockheed employee and divorced father Bobby Sherrill was captured in Kuwait and spent nearly five harrowing months as an Iraqi hostage. The night after his release Mr. Sherill was arrested for not paying $1,425 in child support while he was a hostage. A similar shock awaited Clarence Brandley. In 1980, the Texas high school janitor was wrongly accused of murder. He spent nearly 10 years in prison, most of it on death row until his exoneration in January 1990. . In 1991 Mr. Brandley sued the state for wrongful imprisonment. The state responded with a bill for nearly $50,000 in child support that Mr. Brandley didn’t pay while in prison. By federal law neither of these men can have their child support arrears modified or eliminated for the time it was impossible for them to have made the payments.
The Bradley Amendment [ 42,U.S.C. 666 (a) (9) (c) ] says that once child support obligation has been established it cannot be retroactively reduced or forgiven by a judge. If a child support obligor becomes disabled, imprisoned, unemployed, or even slips into comma, unless they have the wherewithal or presence of mind to file for a suspension or reduction, their debt will continue to accumulate, and cannot be modified for any reason. The Bradley Amendment all but insures that any non-custodial parent who has a dip in cash flow will be buried under debt that cannot be legally escaped. This often helps chase poor non-custodial parents into illegal activities which in turn feeds Alabama’s and other states “Prison Industrial Complex” at every level from county to state and private.
Measures to extract the maximum possible amount of money from non-custodial parents have increasingly extreme and often violate the basic principles of human dignity and privacy upon which this country was founded. The specific rights violated include the right to equal protection, due process, the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment and arbitrary fines and penalties.
Marcus Echols/Alliance for Non-Custodial Parents