A judge has temporarily blocked New Jersey from withholding trade licenses to people who owe back child support when they had no capacity to pay.
The preliminary injunction was issued in the case of Patrice Dowe. He accrued more than $31,000 in child support for his two sons while he spent 10 years in federal prisons after he was convicted of criminal sexual contact and drug conspiracy charges.
Dowe studied to become an electrician while in prison. But the state law prohibits awarding trade licenses to anyone who owes at least six months' of child support.
The state is reviewing the injunction before deciding whether to appeal.
Dowe tells The Star-Ledger of Newark he's trying to pay the debt as best he can.
“I’m trying to pay it off as best I can,” Dowe told the paper. “I realize lots of people will say you deserve this. It was my mistake and I paid for it. But at some point when you get out and you’re trying to earn money through these job opportunities, why is the state telling you no.
“It’s not about me or whether I make it or not. It’s about everybody else who will be affected by this,” Dowe said.