March 03, 2017
Parents of children who went to jail in Philadelphia last year paid more than half a million dollars to foot the bill for detaining their kid, according to a report published Thursday.
The joint report from The Marshall Project, a nonprofit journalism outlet focusing on criminal justice, and The Washington Post detailed the practice — popularized decades ago in an effort to hold parents responsible — that's in place in Philadelphia and across the country.
When a minor is jailed, lawyers contracted by the city of Philadelphia serve the parents a bill that can be as high as $1,000 a month, the report says. In many cases, those parents are so poor they can only afford to make payments of about $5 a month.
In 2016, Philadelphia collected $551,261 from parents of delinquent children. The money represents a tiny portion of the about $81 million the city spent on jailing those children, according to the report.
The report identifies 19 states that employ similar policies in at least some cases. Pennsylvania is not among them, however, the state's juvenile justice system is "highly-decentralized," and many municipalities use the practice.
City Councilman Kenyatta Johnson has called a Friday hearing, scheduled for 1 p.m., on the issue.
Your child’s been sent to jail. And then comes the bill. Come to my hearing on this at 1PM today! https://t.co/0JBO0XeeBz— Kenyatta Johnson (@CouncilmanKJ) March 3, 2017
A spokesperson with Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services said the matter is being reviewed, noting any decision made should work for all counties, not just Philly.