A new law is being considered in the City of South Fulton- if kids are caught breaking the law, not only will they go to jail but their parents as well.
Under the proposed law, parents of the juvenile delinquents would be fined $100 up, and worse, their children’s misdeeds could also land them in jail up to 30 days. Additionally, their record will be tainted with a misdemeanor on their criminal history that says “Unaccountable Parent.”
Councilwoman Helen Willis who wants to bring the proposed law to a vote in February says she has seen too often the case of juveniles being released to the custody of their parents after committing serious crimes, but without the guarantee that the erring children will be punished at home.
Some concerns were raised about the law achieving the opposite effect that once enacted will make parents hide or ignore their children’s crimes instead, for fear of being sent to prison themselves. Willis clarified that parents who cooperate with police and show that they are determined to seek help for their children will not be prosecuted.
Willis stressed: “This ordinance is for the parents who don’t do anything. It’s not for parents who pick up the phone or cooperate with the police and show the court that they are trying to get help for their children will not be prosecuted.”
The councilwoman also cautioned to add that parents of misbehaving kids will not be automatically jailed. She said parents will be given a series of extra chances before being sent to jail in the form of crisis intervention, family counseling, parenting classes and job skills training. Parents will only be slapped with jail time if they still fail to take part in such programs even after their children have committed infractions.
There are people at the community feedback meeting for the proposed law who told the local media that they know parents “who could use the extra motivation to keep an eye on their children.”
The proposed law targets custodial parent only and parents who are only paying child support, as well as those who are totally out of their children’s lives, will not be at risk for being punished for their children’s crimes.