Parents who otherwise might be hauled to jail for nonpayment of child support are being given two weeks to make arrangements to bring their payments up to date through an amnesty program offered by the Prince George's County Office of Child Support Enforcement.
From tomorrow through Nov. 15, errant fathers and mothers can have their arrest warrants lifted by paying past-due support or making arrangements to pay it, said Sgt. Terrence Justin, head of the section of the sheriff's department that serves the warrants.
This is the fourth time that an amnesty has been offered, Justin said. In the past, sheriff's deputies have gone out in full force after periods of amnesty to round up wayward parents. Justin would not say whether such action will be taken this time.
This program differs from the last three amnesty periods in that the Office of Child Support Enforcement will handle the payment arrangements, Justin said. Before, individuals surrendered to court officials and their arrangements to repay were made with the court.
Justin said that parents who come in during the amnesty period will be asked to agree to have back payments deducted from their paychecks, an option available to state and local governments under a federal law that took effect Oct. 1. If the delinquent parent does not agree to wage deductions, Justin said, the office might seek a court order for the deductions.
Since October 1981, Justin said, sheriff's deputies have served more than 5,300 warrants for nonpayment of child support. Last month, he said, deputies served 137 warrants on individuals who owed a total of $303,000 in child-support payments.
Persons who wish amnesty may apply at the Office of Child Support Enforcement, 14701 Gov. Oden Bowie Dr., Suite 302, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.