Archive for Wednesday, February 16, 2000

It’s difficult to legislate parental responsibility

February 16, 2000

As much as society might like to, there's no proven way to make people take responsibilities they simply do not want to assume.

But a proposal by a Leavenworth County commissioner that focuses on parents of juvenile offenders is worth a look. Under a plan unveiled by Commissioner Don Navinsky and in operation in other Kansas counties parents of juveniles found guilty of crimes would be assessed a fee to help cover the cost of incarcerating those children.

Navinsky sees it as a two-pronged attack. On one hand, he's hopeful that if parents are hit in their wallets, they'll take a more active role in their children's lives. In addition, a little money could lessen the impact that housing juvenile offenders has on the county's taxpayers.

The county commission is considering whether it wants district judges to have the option of imposing fees on parents.

The commission hasn't decided whether to implement a fee schedule, but its members were interested enough to ask two county department heads the county attorney and the director of the juvenile detention center to make a formal recommendation on the matter.

Although charging parents a fee because their children wound up in the juvenile detention center won't make a difference in every case, it could make a difference in some cases.

And, as Navinsky says: "I think society wants this. Society is deeming we want accountability."

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