By Bianca Cain Johnson
The Augusta Chronicle
AIKEN COUNTY, Ga. — In coming weeks the Aiken County Sheriff's Office hopes to clear a growing number of "deadbeat" parents by featuring them in its weekly most wanted list.
On Feb. 24, the department issued its first Most Wanted Deadbeats list, which showed jail booking shots of nine dads and one mom wanted for family court bench warrants. Each of the parents owed between $27,000 and $30,000.
Sheriff's Capt. Eric Abdullah said about 1,200 of his agency's 8,000-plus active warrants stem from family court bench warrants. A breakdown of moms verses dads on the list was not available.
The term "deadbeat parent" refers to those who evade child-support obligations, Abdullah said. The warrants team is attempting to identify parents who owe a lot of money for child support.
Although most family court bench warrants deal with unpaid child support, other relate to a failure to appear in court or unpaid court fees.
"Family court bench warrants are really no different than any other warrants in our system," Abdullah said. "The reason we're focusing on them is to bring them to the public's attention because there are so many."
Unfortunately, he said, such offenders are sometimes a lower priority when dealing with warrants connected to more violent offenses.
"Our goal is to try to treat every warrant equal, but yes, sometimes we do have to prioritize when we're looking for the more violent offenders...," he said. "All the other warrants we try to address as soon as we possibly can. We try not to push anything to the side, but our goal is public safety and we like to get those violent offenders first."
The warrants team is working to serve active warrants and investigate all leads on wanted suspects, but they're also asking for the public's help. More lists will be released every Monday.
Copyright 2014 The Augusta Chronicle
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