Our carceral child support system and the Walter Scott case

“In South Carolina, at least one in eight people in jail are there on contempt-of-court charges related to late or unpaid child-support orders.” [Marshall Project; Christopher Mathias/Huffington Post] For decades elected officials of right and left alike have backed punitive handling of “deadbeat dads,” with results that include repeated jail terms levied over arrears unlikely ever to be paid, as well as the denial of drivers’ licenses and other basics of participation in the aboveground economy. Earlier on child support issues.

Some writings from my Cato Institute colleagues on the Walter Scott case: Tim Lynch, Jonathan Blanks, Matthew Feeney. And a New York Times “Room for Debate” roundtable on police use of deadly force featuring Walter Katz, Prof. Seth Stoughton and others.


  • Worse than just not paying the medical bills by court-order, consider that the employer pays for the health insurance, Mom pays the bill, and Dad collects the insurance reimbursement. The next generation are not just deadbeats, or scorched-earth dads, they profit from “Baby-Mommies”. What is really needed besides lawyers and courtrooms are accountants and interest penalties.

  • The officer did not shoot when Mr. Scott first took off from the car. There was an interaction not caught on video that involved control of the officer’s taser. Mr. Scot got loose somehow and was then a fleeing felon, the felony being the tussle with the officer and the taking of the officer’s taser. It happened that Mr. Scott did not have possession of the taser and neither did the officer. If Mr. Scott had the taser, then he could have harmed others with it. To me the taser was not enough of a hazard to warrant shooting Mr. Scot, but the shooting would be valid if not actually required, under the fleeing felon rule if the policeman, in good faith, believed that Scott had the taser and the taser could severely harm others. Certainly, the murder charge is a stretch. Let’s see how the case plays out.

    Mr. Lynch’s analysis is wrong with respect to non-filing of charges against police involved in shootings. The error is that police usually had no interaction with the person who was shot prior to the incident involved. Something happens that gets out of hand, often it is mental problems with the person and theory of mind problems . During the time that yearly homicides rates dropped from 2,500 per year under David Dinkins to roughly 500 under Rudy Giuliani, police homicides dropped by a proportionately larger amount. To my amazement, homicide rates continued their decline under Michael Bloomberg. The cause of the wonderful results in New York City is not completely understood, but applying scientific analyses to policing had something to do with it. Little is gained by holding individual policemen “accountable”, and there is danger of having mob rule apply..

  • @William,

    It is very likely that the supposed tussle with the officer was fabricated by the officer.

    According to this article: http://www.postandcourier.com/article/20150408/PC16/150409446

    “At the time of his death, Scott had one of the Taser prongs sticking in his back. ”

    In other words Scott was tased in the back. I think it is extremely unlikely that he was ever in a position where it would have been possible for him to have even attempted a grab at the taser.

    • Scott had a pretty good lead on the officer. That gap was closed to at minimum taser distance. Getting shot in the back with a taser does not mean that at that moment he was fleeing, and perhaps did what most might reflexively do, and turn away from the taser.
      Was the released video complete? Possibly the videographer did not start filming until shots were being fired. But since the family has controlled the video release, and the original has not been validated by independent forensics as not being edited, we can only make guesses about what happened between the dash cam and video released by the family.
      In the end, best way to get eaten by the tiger is to run from the tiger. What follows is an instinctive, adrenaline and academy training fueled confrontation that was an unfortunate yet predictable outcome. Don’t care what color your skin is; Choosing to run is a very bad idea that could turn out badly for anyone.

  • So, who is going to pay Scott’s child support bill now?

  • no one is going to pay, the kids would of been fed with or without child support in the first place.

  • Courts in New York routinely impute income to non-custodial parents, in excess of what these parents actually earn, based on fraudulent case law developed more than 30 years ago. I am trying to bring this issue to NY Court of Appeals, as part of my appeal of my judgment of divorce. See my current petition regarding permission to bring my appeal to NY Court of Appeals: https://www.change.org/p/the-court-of-appeals-state-of-new-york-permit-to-appeal-an-issue-of-statewide-importance