"It's too bad the court doesn’t have the authority to sterilize. This has come up before." So said Wisconsin’s Racine County Circuit Court Judge Tim Boyle as he ordered a deadbeat dad not to have children as part of his probation.
According to the Racine Journal Times, the 44-year-old man was in court for not paying child support. Corey Curtis of Racine had fathered nine children with six women. Judge Boyle sentenced him to three years of probation and added the “no sex” proviso almost as an afterthought.
Curtis owes almost $100,000 in back child support and interest, and yes, the good Judge Boyle lamented that he was not allowed to physically force (a la sterilization) people from breeding.
The good judge spoke directly to Curtis: “Common sense dictates you shouldn’t have kids you can’t afford.”
At that point, District Attorney Rebecca Sommers thought she saw where the judge was leading. She interrupted him and told him that the state did not have power to restrict Curtis’ future breeding. She said, however, that a Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling did allow a judge to order the defendant not to have any more children unless and until he proved he can support them. That order, however, would only be enforceable as a condition of probation.
“I will make that a condition of the probation,” Boyle said immediately.
Curtis pleaded no contest in October to one count each of felony bail jumping and failure to pay child support, a misdemeanor, according to court records.
“He is not to procreate until he can show he can provide for them,” Boyle ordered. He further ordered that Curtis must prove to the probation department’s satisfaction that he can financially support all nine of his current children.
Defense attorney Robert Peterson objected, saying that the “no sex” provision was not part of the recommended sentence in Curtis’ pre-sentencing investigation report. The good judge, obviously now having found his footing, said, “I’m not following the PSI,” and a wry smile creased his face.
Judge Boyle was well within his jurisdiction and authority in issuing this unusual sentence. In July 2001, the Wisconsin Supreme Court upheld a Court of Appeals ruling that affirmed the “no sex” condition of probation in a Manitowoc County case. In State v. Oakley, a man had been charged with seven counts of intentional failure to support his nine children. The justices ruled that defendant David Oakley’s constitutional right to procreate wasn’t eliminated. He still could reproduce—if he made child support payments.
“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,” wrote Justice Jon Wilcox.
And so, kudos and congratulations are due to Judge Tim Boyle in the instant case. As the good judge intimated, it is simply not fair to the children to be brought into situations wherein no one (except the state) is able (or willing) to care for them.
I agree that judges ought not be allowed to order sterilization of these guys. That is a power that is too easily abused for religious, racial/ethnic, or personal peccadilloes on the part of a judge. The answer is almost too obvious to mention: If sex is used as a “recreational” activity rather than a procreational one, hey, use a condom.