Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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December 27, 2012

Child support — Warrants list boosting revenue

A weekly publication of wanted individuals published in the Daily Telegraph is having an unintended but welcomed effect of helping to bring more money to children who need it.

The weekly warrants list provided by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department will often include the names of people who have failed to pay child support. Many of the warrants are cleared, but new ones come in on a regular basis for processing.

Mercer County Family Law Judge Mary Ellen Griffith says officials are seeing an increase in child support payments since the Daily Telegraph began publishing the weekly warrants.

“We’ve seen an increase in arrests since their publication,” Griffith said. “That means we’re collecting significant amounts of money. The goal is not to incarcerate obligators, but to collect support for needy children. And we’re seeing it happen more.”

Griffith serves on the family court with two other judges. Each is seeing an increase in people meeting their child support obligations. Griffith says that her own court alone has seen more collections now that the warrants list is being published regularly.

For example, more than $1,500 was received for child support payments just last week that would not have been collected otherwise. And that was in just one court. Three courts are handling family court cases.

People who owe child support money often ignore their obligations until a warrant is issued and published, according to Griffith.

“They don’t show up in court, they ignore summons from the court, and don’t tell us what they’re doing,” she said. “They’re just trying to slide by.”

However, having a warrant issued for their arrest, and their name published in the pages of the Daily Telegraph, helps the obligators realize that it is time to cooperate.

“What the warrant says is that you either pay this amount or you go to jail,” Griffith said. “I think more people are aware now. It just helps the kids.”

While it wasn’t the original intent of the warrants list to help track down deadbeat dads who are failing to pay child support, we are nevertheless happy to see that the weekly publication is helping to accomplish this important goal.

It is also our hope that area readers will continue to assist the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department in helping to locate many of these wanted individuals. It is critical that we bring these individuals to justice — including those who have knowingly fled the area — while also taking steps to reduce Mercer County’s backlog of outstanding warrants.

We will continue to run additional names each week with the hope and ultimate objective of bringing these individuals to justice — and now helping to encourage more fathers to meet their child support obligations. However, it will take the help of our readers to make this happen. If you know someone whose name is listed, please contact the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department at 304-487-8364 or your local state police detachment.

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