Refund for Bad Kids: Try This Novel California Rebate

Refund for Bad Kids: Try This Novel California Rebate

California has interesting ways of collecting money.

And this latest screw up puts mud on the face of the state for sure.

According to ABA Journal,

One California county is giving its citizens something that’s not typically on offer from the U.S. justice system: a refund.

This week, the Contra Costa County probation department will begin notifying and mailing checks to families who, since 2010, were wrongfully billed for their children’s incarceration.

The county, located to the east of the Bay Area, will pay back a total of $136,000 — with interest — to about 500 mostly low-income families. It has also wiped out more than $8.5 million of outstanding debt in about 11,000 other cases.

“It’s not easy for government to look at a practice, admit it was wrong, and make a refund, but it’s the right and moral thing to do,” said John M. Gioia, a member of the county’s Board of Supervisors, which made its decision on the issue in December.

So who pays for the criminals? The taxpayers, Silly.

Not only do prisoners get a pass for their crime, the taxpayers pay the freight. But it wasn’t always this way.

Until last year, California state law allowed counties to bill parents for the cost of their children’s incarceration, a common policy nationwide that has recently come under wide criticism. The Marshall Project wrote about the practice in March, and in October, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown banned it statewide.

Even under the previous law, California parents were not supposed to be billed if their son or daughter was ultimately found not guilty. But most counties either did not know about the provision or did not follow it.

Billing parents for the cost of their children’s incarceration is rooted in a decades-old belief among policymakers that families are responsible for supporting their delinquent children and should not expect government to pick up the tab. But critics have challenged the policy around the country, arguing it is akin to taxing parents for a child’s loss of liberty.

Lucky these kids don’t live in Turkey.

In prisons there and elsewhere, if your family doesn’t care for you, you die in prison. They bring the dead bodies out almost every morning.

While I certainly don’t believe in such a barbaric practice, I do believe parents share responsibility with the state.

Since advocates in California began fighting the fee system locally in 2016, they won moratoriums in several counties, including Contra Costa. Apparently, kids are so bad that California decided they couldn’t keep punishing parents, particularly single mothers.

That said, Contra Costa appears to be the only California county to take the additional step of discharging all outstanding debt and repaying parents who had been improperly billed.

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