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Letters 07-25-2016

Remember Bush-Cheney Does anyone remember George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? They were president and vice president a mere eight years ago. Does anyone out there remember the way things were at the end of their duo? It was terrible...

Mass Shootings And Gun Control The largest mass shooting in U.S. history occurred December 29,1890, when 297 Sioux Indians at Wounded Knee in South Dakota were murdered by federal agents and members of the 7th Cavalry who had come to confiscate their firearms “for their own safety and protection.” The slaughter began after the majority of the Sioux had peacefully turned in their firearms...

Families Need Representation When one party dominates the Michigan administration and legislature, half of Michigan families are not represented on the important issues that face our state. When a policy affects the non-voting K-12 students, they too are left out, especially when it comes to graduation requirements...

Raise The Minimum Wage I wanted to offer a different perspective on the issue of raising the minimum wage. The argument that raising the minimum wage will result in job loss is a bogus scare tactic. The need for labor will not change, just the cost of it, which will be passed on to the consumer, as it always has...

Make Cherryland Respect Renewable Cherryland Electric is about to change their net metering policy. In a nutshell, they want to buy the electricity from those of us who produce clean renewable electric at a rate far below the rate they buy electricity from other sources. They believe very few people have an interest in renewable energy...

Settled Science Climate change science is based on the accumulated evidence gained from studying the greenhouse effect for 200 years. The greenhouse effect keeps our planet 50 degrees warmer due to heat-trapping gases in our atmosphere. Basic principles of physics and chemistry dictate that Earth will warm as concentrations of greenhouse gases increase...

Home · Articles · News · Features · The high cost of toking, Part...
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The high cost of toking, Part II

Anne Stanton - November 2nd, 2009
Must Parents Pay for Kids’ Mistakes?
Yup, It’s the Law

By Anne Stanton 11/2/09

Got a teenager who’s had trouble with the law? Then be prepared to pay dearly for court-ordered fines and rehabilitation -- sometimes totaling tens of thousands of dollars.
Charging parents for their teen’s rehab and legal bills has the court of law behind it, said Frank Vandervort, clinical assistant professor of law at the University of Michigan.
“Even if the parent objects, and doesn’t think it’s appropriate, the court can override the parent’s prerogative. And the case law is very clear that the debt survives the kid well into adulthood,” he said.
That was an unpleasant reality for Dan Coddington and his former wife, whose story was told in last week’s Northern Express. Their son Trevor was found with marijuana several times, beginning at the age of 14. He subsequently spent 15 months in court-ordered drug rehab programs, with his treatment and court fines adding up to $53,054. Initially, his divorced parents were billed nearly $26,000 apiece. Their bill was later reduced by $8,593. Trevor died in a car accident at the age of 19, yet the bills for his rehabilitation were still the responsibility of his parents. Fortunately for the Coddingtons, the court forgave much of their rehab bills in early October.
Why must parents pay for their teen’s mistakes?
State law says so, along with court precedent. A key case was People v. McEvoy, in which a boy was ordered to pay $750,000 for the damage to a school building he had set on fire. The trial court’s decision was affirmed by the state appeals court in 2005.

DEEP IN DEBT
But Vandervort said tagging a juvenile with a lifelong bill is at odds with the mission of the juvenile court.
“The whole idea of the juvenile court is a kid makes a mistake, so we want to help them get rehabilitated and send them into adulthood free of drug problems. But this contravenes the whole philosophy. We are sending a kid into adulthood so deeply in debt that they spend a good portion of their adult life trying to pay the debt. It’s completely contrary to a juvenile court system.”
But court officials say they are between a rock and a hard place. Treatment programs are extremely expensive. Either the families carry the debt for decades or the taxpayers do. But some parents, like Dan Coddington, disagree with taking a youth out of their home and putting them into residential rehab, shoulder-to-shoulder with other deeply troubled youths. He believes some youths come out more troubled than when they went in, and suffer a stigma when they return to school.
Coddington said the enormous bills also stress out a family, already stressed by their teen’s troubles. Being forced to pay tens of thousands for treatment can put a strain on the relationship. Vandervort said the working poor and middle class families are the most likely to feel the financial squeeze because they don’t qualify for Medicaid and the rich can afford to pay.
Insurance companies do not cover rehabilitation or counseling that’s paid for by the court and not directly by the family.
So what happens in the adult court? Offenders also pay numerous fees, but are very rarely, if ever, sent to residential rehabilitation—at least in Grand Traverse County. And the adult—not the court—must pay for the services directly, not the court. And there are many, many fees.
“In the adult system, more and more, they are being taxed with one fee or another. Fees for probation, fees that the probation officer gets to monitor you, fees for drug testing. If you’re in jail, you’re charged with a per diem (daily charge). We’ve basically gotten debtor’s prison again,” Vandervort said.

 
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