March 04, 2017
A day after a report exposed Philadelphia's practice of billing parents of delinquent children for jail time, the city has announced it will take steps to end the policy.
The city's department of human services said Friday it will "take action" to end collection for youth in detention, noting in a press release the department had requested approval from the state four months ago to stop the practice.
"Our priority is to reunify families safely and quickly; ending child support collection for delinquency and detention is a great move forward toward that goal as well as promoting family stability," DHS Commissioner Cynthia Figueroa said in a statement.
On Thursday, a joint report from The Marshall Project, a nonprofit journalism outlet focusing on criminal justice, and The Washington Post detailed how Philadelphia, among other municipalities and states, charged parents for the time their children were placed in detention.
According to the report, parents were served bills that could cost $1000 a month. But because many of those parents were in poverty, many could only afford monthly payments of about $5.
The practice was popularized across the country in the 1970s and '80s in an effort to hold parents responsible for their children's behavior.
Pennsylvania is not among the 19 states that uses the practice. However, because the state's juvenile justice system is very decentralized, municipalities are free to employ the policy.
A spokesperson with Pennsylvania's Department of Human Services said the matter is being reviewed, according to the report.