New ‘Accountability Court’ designed to keep parents behind in child support out of jail

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI) - It's a first of its kind court system in the area. Madison County is starting an Accountability Court that is designed to help those who can't pay their child support stay out of jail.

Jackie Graham had a baby when he was just a kid himself.

"When you are 17 you don’t really think you have any responsibilities, and as the years go by, you get yourself so far back," said Graham.

Jackie’s daughter is now 24 and he is still trying to pay off the child support he owes. He said it is easy to get into a cycle that you feel you can’t get out of

"You want to run if you are behind, and have a warrant. So you just keep on running and running because you don’t want to sit in jail. No one wants to sit in jail. But that was my own fault for getting so far back behind. Hopefully with this, it will help me out," said Graham.

Accountability Court is a court system set up to help people get a job so they can support their children instead of punishing putting them in jail for missed payments.  Once a month individuals who are selected by a Madison County committee will head to Accountability Court where they will work with local colleges, business owners and job placements personnel. Participants will work on resume writing, interview courses, trade certificates and job placement personnel.

"I applaud Madison County for doing this I put myself in this position and they are going to help me get out which is really cool," said Graham.

Graham says that for the first time in 24 years, he is not scared to go to court.

"It’s a 180 for the court system to be helping me out instead of trying to put me behind bars. They should hold me accountable for my child support, don’t get me wrong, but it’s pretty neat that they are trying to help me out instead of make things worse for me," said Graham.