ATLANTA (AP) – A Fulton County judge is allowing thousands of parents to join a class-action lawsuit filed last year against Georgia by five parents who were jailed for child support debt.

Superior Court Judge Jerry Baxter’s Dec. 30 order granted the status for indigent parents in a lawsuit that claims Georgia unlawfully imprisons parents who can’t pay child support. It would not apply to parents who can afford to hire attorneys.

The judge’s order said about 3,500 parents were jailed in child support cases without being provided attorneys to represent them since January 2010.

Critics of the law say it creates a debtor’s prison because those who are locked up then lose their jobs and their ability to repay their debt. They say Georgia is among few states with this policy.


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