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Jobs Not Jail

The Jobs-Not-Jail Alternative to Incarceration begun in 2006 has been a soaring success producing outcomes demonstrating that for every $1 invested in services to eligible fathers $5 was returned in savings and benefits to taxpayers and low-income families.

Many low-income fathers who fall behind in child support face stiff penalties including incarceration. The average sentence for failure to pay child support is six months. Because incarceration is considered voluntary unemployment, while fathers are incarcerated their child support arrears continue to mount. Upon release they are even further behind in child support, lost time spent with their children, employment or job prospects disappeared and more consequences amassed with other missed payments, a criminal record and more. For low income fathers failure and inability to pay is most likely due to unemployment or underemployment versus unwillingness to pay. When a father is unable to pay, there is no length of incarceration time that increases his ability to pay. It only costs tax payers to incarcerate a non-violent offender.

The Center for Fathers and Families and local programs in partnership with the Family Court and -Child Support Enforcement have created an alternative to incarcerations, entitled Jobs-Not-Jail. Low-income fathers are court-ordered to a local fatherhood program where they must secure employment within 30 days; pay child support with in 45 days; and participate in the program for six months. Data reveals that the program has been successful in increasing father fulfillment of child support obligations which would otherwise not have been met during the father's incarceration. When fathers do not comply with program requirements, the Family Court is informed and fathers are re-arrested and required to serve their time.

When fathers are actively enrolled in the program versus being incarcerated for an average of six months, there are measurable savings in incarceration costs for these non-violent offenders.


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Court-ordered participants







Terminated participants







Actively enrolled participants







Earned in gross wages







Paid in on-going child support







Paid in child support arrears







Estimated incarceration savings