Police crackdown and offer of amnesty help child support collections

Often, we wonder if our actions make a difference. In June, the Mountain Advocate published an article about individuals neglecting to pay child support. In a collaborative effort between the Knox County Sheriff’s office, Barbourville Police Department, and Knox County Constables Carl Bolton and Reed Murphy, eight individuals were arrested in one day and charged with non-support. Although this had a positive impact on the lives of the families of the eight charged, law enforcement says there is still a lot of work to be done.

“There have been several people who had warrants that have called, come in or made arrangements to make payments since the last story,” said Knox County Attorney Gilbert Holland. “It’s actually been a pretty good response.”

On June 18, the day of the roundup, there were 177 bench warrants issued for non-supporters. Since then Holland says that number has decreased to around 150.

“The main goal is to get them back on track,” explained Holland, “Their bond is not set at an outrageous number, it’s usually around $500, but that gets them in, gets rid of the warrant against them, and gets them on a schedule for review.”

In the weeks after the roundup, an estimated $6-7,000 was collected for the children of those charged with non-support.

“Non-support has been a big issue in Knox County for quite some time now,” said Holland. “It’s a problem everywhere, but we’re close to the top of the list when it comes to child-support neglect.”

To help with the growing problem, Knox County offers ‘Amnesty’ programs.

“The Sheriff’s Office works with us,” said caseworker Brandi Hicks. “Individuals can come in and work out a payment plan or even work out a lesser amount. And it’s not just for people with warrants, it’s also for people who have fallen behind.”

“For two weeks, even if they have a warrant, they can come in, free of arrest, make arrangements and we’ll take their warrant off as long as they live by those arrangements.” Holland added. “It’s a chance for them to get back on track with their payments without having to go to jail.”