A court-ordered child support does not guarantee a custodial parent will receive the required payments to help support his or her family.

All too often, the parent ordered to make child support payments falls behind or doesn’t pay at all and ends up in jail. And that doesn’t have the intended result.

“If you put someone in jail, they can’t pay,” said Capt. Larry Bruce, a Camden County Sheriff’s Office spokesman.

Gov. Nathan Deal was in Woodbine on Wednesday to announce the start of the Parental Accountability Court designed to offer an alternative to jail for chronic non-payers of child support in the Brunswick Judicial Circuit.

Deal, who practiced law before he was elected governor, said the parental accountability court has saved Georgia taxpayers $38 million a year. One of his frustrations when he practiced law was the court system not being able to address the cause of the problems.

The program uses community resources to address child support obligations with the services designed to meet the specific needs of each community. It has helped many parents meet their child support obligations, he said. The program has only a two percent recidivism rate.

“These individuals are working and paying taxes now,” Deal said. “What is says to me is it’s working. You can expect great results to come out of this.”

Superior Court Judge Robert Guy Jr. will oversee the program for the five-county judicial circuit. He thanked Deal for his leadership in criminal justice reform in the state.

The state’s prison population has declined by 20 percent since Deal became governor nearly eight years ago, and that’s with the state growing from the tenth most populous states to No. 4 on the list.

The intent of the accountability program is to help provide job training and counseling to enable people to be in the position to support their children. To graduate, participants must meet their child support obligations for six months.

“Children are struggling because parents aren’t supplying the support,” Guy said. “We want to make sure our children are being taken care of.”

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