"It’s unfathomable to me that you can rack up $60,000 or $70,000 of debt and you have no ability to pay because you’re incarcerated," Huddleston said.
One father told the Detroit Free Press he had considered returning to a life of selling drugs to avoid having his wages garnished. Another man who found work said he didn't file income tax returns because the government could have intercepted his refund.
This type of debt is "completely preventable," said Erin Keith, a Detroit Justice Center attorney.
Damian Black saw his child support obligations for his five children balloon to more than $72,000 during his nearly 21-year prison term. "Ain't no way I’m gonna dig out this hole," Black thought before the Detroit Justice Center helped him clear the debt following his release in November.
"I feel like now I have a fighting chance of being successful and getting a job and starting my life over," Black, 44, said in July.