Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Evolution of Poverty into a Crime against the State

The following article shows how being too poor to support your children has now morphed into a felony, whereas previously it was considered just an unfortunate circumstance of life. Of course I don't need to point out how poverty disportionately impacts the African-American community and how this Johnson administration change in dealing with children in poverty has been the impetus to the custody wars that are now raging in every comminity across our nation.

So once again we see how the greed of men inevitably winds up paving the way to war.

BTW, this particular case was overturned on a technicality which doesn't mean that thousands of poor people aren't already languishing in prison due to not being able to afford an appeal. It's probably just the tip of the iceberg we see here with this one case in Virginia...


Justices say Legislature wrong on felony child support
5/29/2008 8:30 AM
By Steve Korris -Statehouse Bureau

CHARLESTON - West Virginia legislators violated state and national constitutions when they forced fathers facing felony child support charges to prove they couldn't pay, the Supreme Court of Appeals decided May 23.

The Justices unanimously erased a law stating that in child support prosecutions "the defendant's alleged inability to reasonably provide the required support may be raised only as an affirmative defense, after reasonable notice to the State."

The law "unconstitutionally shifts to a defendant the burden of disproving an element of the offense," Justice Robin Davis wrote. "We have previously observed that it is a foundation of criminal law that the State must prove all the elements of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt."

The law violates due process under Article III of the West Virginia Constitution and the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution, she wrote.

The Justices granted a new trial to Gabriel Stamm in Harrison County after Circuit Judge James Matish sentenced him to prison for a year to three years.

Matish also ordered Stamm to pay court costs and to make restitution of $7,386 to the mother of his child, Rebecca Roth, and $1,864 to the state.

Officers arrested Stamm Dec. 22, 2005, on a complaint from Roth that he hadn't made a monthly payment in more than a year.

He had acknowledged paternity in March 2004, and for a few months he had paid Roth $167.52 a month.

Grand jurors indicted him in 2006 on a felony charge of failure to meet an obligation to provide support to a minor.

Stamm moved to dismiss on constitutional grounds. Matish denied the motion.

At trial, Stamm asserted inability to pay as an affirmative defense.

When the state closed its case, Stamm moved for acquittal. He argued that the state failed to demonstrate his ability to pay.

Matish denied the motion, so Stamm presented evidence for his inability to pay and moved again for acquittal. Again Matish denied it.

"If the evidence of inability to pay creates a reasonable doubt in the minds of the jury whether the accused could reasonably provide the support obligation at the time alleged in the indictment, then the jury must return a verdict of not guilty," Matish told jurors.

Jurors found Stamm guilty of the felony charge and Matish sentenced him.

On appeal, Harrison County assistant prosecutor Kurt Hall argued that Matish's instruction cured any problem of due process.

Davis disagreed, writing that Matish "did not make it absolutely clear that the burden remained on the State to prove, beyond doubt, Mr. Stamm's inability to pay."

"... the instruction could have misled the jury into believing that Mr. Stamm bore the burden of proof as to his ability to pay support," Davis wrote.

Greta Davis of Public Defender Corporation in Clarksburg represented Stamm.


Val said...

I am reminded uncomfortably of the sister of a friend of mine... After being stripped of custody by her ex in the aftermath of the custody battle when she had been hosp for treatment for depression (don't think he didn't use THAT against her!), she has now fled the state of TX when a snowballing series of financial catastrophes left HER unable to pay child support to her very-well-off ex. [don't think he would hesitate to have HER jailed either]
Another travesty.

NYMOM said...

BTW, just because she left the state doesn't mean the obligation won't catch up with her. Actually it's been made a federal crime (with a longer sentence) to move out of state to avoid paying child support.

So at any point in her future, she could be picked up and jailed by the federal authorities. Not to mention that she can never visit her child either because to do so could risk arrest.

This is the brainchild of Lyndon B. Johnson. It has been refined over the years by others who followed after him, but its original intent is his. As usual, the endless greed of men to blame...

Anonymous said...

A lot of what goes under the rubric of child "abuse" is really "maltreatment," which in turn is another name for poverty. You can be accused of "maltreatment" just because you don't have health insurance for your kids (in a country that does not make health insurance a right) or not having "enough" food at home. Doesn't matter if you were laid off and waiting for the food pantry to open or whether you spent the grocery money on booze. The authorities see it as the same. In NYC especially, a lot of moms lose their kids to foster care this way.


Anonymous said...

Silverside, and a lot of moms lose custody of their kids to the fathers this way too. And of course, said fathers contributed to the problem to begin with because they weren't paying their child support. This happened to my friend, and her ex didn't even have a job. He lives off whatever girlfriend he has for the moment, or his mother. They took my friend's kids because she was "too poor" to keep them even though she was working two jobs to make ends meet, and they gave them to a dead beat who survives by living off of other women.

NYMOM said...

Yes, everything said above is true.

Now that men have figured out they can make money off of getting custody of children we will see this happening in the millions...

It reminds me of how men have obscured the history of the introduction of animals into human society. When Europeans first got to the Americas they wrote back accounts of how native women would often nurse baby deer or even puppies in order to have them as little pets. This is probably the origins of animal and human contacts historically speaking; but it happened earlier in Europe so was forgotten by the 14/15 century.

Anyway men must have figured out how they could make money from it and took it over.

Now it's called herding and women are not connected with its origins in anyway. Every documentary ever made about it appears to show a man with a fully grown wolf and this is supposed to be the origins of animal/human contact. Like a fully grown wolf would ever befriend a man.

NYMOM said...

Hi Silverside.

Hope you and your family are well.

G. said...

Thank you for an excellent article! It cites yet another example of the increasing, pervasive, sneaking authoritarism in today's society.

NYMOM said...

Well we have to connect the dots here...

Most of this is related to making children worth money to people...even the state can be seen as another actor trying to get their hand in the till.

So it's an economic thing, not so much authoritarian...mayee they're intertwined...