Lots of people who have children probably shouldn’t. For one man in Wisconsin, a judge has intervened in his prolific personal life and banned him from having any more kids, under the threat of jail time.
Corey Curtis, 44, was sentenced to three years probation in December for failing to pay up on the $90,000 he owes in child support, as well as felony bail jumping. As a condition of the probation, the judge ordered him to not father any more children until he can show that he can provide for them financially.
Curtis currently has nine children with six different women. “Common sense dictates you shouldn’t have kids you can’t afford,” Racine County Circuit Court Judge Tim Boyle said at the probation hearing. “He is not to procreate until he can show he can provide for them.”
Failure to pay child support is endemic in the United States, with only about 41 percent of custodial parents ever receiving the full amount of child support that they are owed.
However, a simple failure to provide for existing kids isn’t enough to warrant a judicial-issue condom. First, a deadbeat dad (or mom) has to be convicted for failure to pay, and put on probation. In Wisconsin and at least a few other states, judges can then order a stay on procreation as part of the conditions of probation, thanks to a 2001 state Supreme Court ruling.
Disregard for the Law
While the Wisconsin high court recognized the option to procreate as a constitutional right, they said that that right is not being stripped in a no-procreation order; rather it is maintained on the condition that the prospective parent be able to support the hypothetical child.
“This case is about a man who intentionally refuses to pay support regardless of his ability to do so. That was the dilemma faced by the sentencing court, and that is what led to the court’s order,” the court’s opinion read.
“The court found his conduct to constitute ‘ongoing victimization of his children’ and a ‘disregard for the law,’” Jonathan Turley, a law professor at the George Washington University Law School, writes on his blog. “The court noted that the alternative to the ban would have been a six-year prison sentence which would have had the same effect.”
The judge in this latest case threatened to go a step further. “It’s too bad the court doesn’t have the authority to sterilize,” Boyle said to Curtis.
A couple of other similar rulings have come down in other states in recent years, according to NBC News. In Kentucky, a man who has 12 children with 11 women was banned from having “any sexual intercourse” while on parole, and a Texas woman was ordered to not get pregnant for the duration of a 10-year probation period.
“The question is whether it is appropriate for courts to order a person not to procreate or whether the court should confine its orders to sending people to jail when they fail to support their children,” Turley ponders.
If he violates the order, Curtis could indeed be thrown in jail. He says he plans to obey the judge’s decision. “Judges, they make rulings,” Curtis told a local TV station, “they make them kind of hastily. So, if that’s what he feels one of my conditions should be then I’m going to abide by it.”