According to an investigative article by Eli Hager published in the Washington Post, March 2, 2017, entitled “Your child’s been sent to jail. And then comes the bill,” many states bill parents when their juvenile children are in the legal system. One woman in California was charged $30 a day, while her son waited for 300 days to be tried. In this case, all the charges were dismissed because someone else had committed the crime.
Many parents of adolescent children are poor and can barely afford to live themselves. Many never pay, many others are threatened and harassed by attorneys for the state, while others are turned over to debt collectors. States typically spend well over 50 percent of what they collect in collection procedures alone.
Laws were passed a number of years ago to allow what I’ve just described. The state thought that many parents were dumping their children in the juvenile justice system and the system of paying for your children’s jail time was an attempt to prevent dumping. Perhaps it was a deterrent for some parents, but children of poor parents are paying for the sins of their children. And one of the unintended consequences was found to be that the children once released from custody had learned to be more unruly.
Aren’t you glad that God has a different philosophy regarding the responsibility for sin. Ezekiel records God’s thought processes in this matter.”Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die…” (Ezekiel 18:4). “The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself” (Ezekiel 18:20).
In God’s eyes, parents don’t pay for the sins of the children. While there is no excuse for sin, God also offers forgiveness. “Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord GOD. “Therefore turn and live!” (Ezekiel 18:31-32).