Jailed for $280: The Return of Debtors' Prisons

Jailed for $280: The Return of Debtors' Prisons

 

How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn't pay a medical bill -- one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn't owe. "She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn't have to pay it," The Associated Press reports. "But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs."
Although the U.S. abolished debtors' prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don't pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans. In parts of Illinois, debt collectors commonly use publicly funded courts, sheriff's deputies, and country jails to pressure people who owe even small amounts to pay up, according to the AP.
[Related: 5 Strategies to Pay Down Credit Card Debt]
Under the law, debtors aren't arrested for nonpayment, but rather for failing to respond to court hearings, pay legal fines, or otherwise showing "contempt of court" in connection with a creditor lawsuit. That loophole has lawmakers in the Illinois House of Representatives concerned enough to pass a bill in March that would make it illegal to send residents of the state to jail if they can't pay a debt. The measure awaits action in the senate.
"Creditors have been manipulating the court system to extract money from the unemployed, veterans, even seniors who rely solely on their benefits to get by each month," Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said last month in a statement voicing support for the legislation. "Too many people have been thrown in jail simply because they're too poor to pay their debts. We cannot allow these illegal abuses to continue."
Debt collectors typically avoid filing suit against debtors, a representative with the Illinois Collectors Association tells the AP. "A consumer that has been arrested or jailed can't pay a debt. We want to work with consumers to resolve issues," he said.
Yet Illinois isn't the only state where residents get locked up for owing money. A 2010 report by the American Civil Liberties Union that focused on only five states -- Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington -- found that people were being jailed at "increasingly alarming rates" over legal debts. Cases ranged from a woman who was arrested four separate times for failing to pay $251 in fines and court costs related to a fourth-degree misdemeanor conviction, to a mentally ill juvenile jailed by a judge over a previous conviction for stealing school supplies.
According to the ACLU: "The sad truth is that debtors' prisons are flourishing today, more than two decades after the Supreme Court prohibited imprisoning those who are too poor to pay their legal debts. In this era of shrinking budgets, state and local governments have turned aggressively to using the threat and reality of imprisonment to squeeze revenue out of the poorest defendants who appear in their courts."
[Related: Spring Cleaning for Your Financial Records]
Some states also apply "poverty penalties," including late fees, payment plan fees, and interest when people are unable to pay all their debts at once, according to a report by the New York University's Brennan Center for Justice. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender.
"Many states are imposing new and often onerous 'user fees' on individuals with criminal convictions," the authors of the Brennan Center report wrote. "Yet far from being easy money, these fees impose severe -- and often hidden -- costs on communities, taxpayers, and indigent people convicted of crimes. They create new paths to prison for those unable to pay their debts and make it harder to find employment and housing as well to meet child-support obligations."
Such practices, heightened in recent years by the effects of the recession, amount to criminalizing poverty, say critics in urging federal authorities to intervene. "More people are unemployed, more people are struggling financially, and more creditors are trying to get their debt paid," Madigan told the AP

 

Patriot's Thoughts:

When big Corporations, and big banks owe money to the people they get bailed out by the American tax payer, and their children and their children will be paying for their greed and corruption for years to come! When me are you cannot afford to pay a bill the same corrupt politicians who bail their rich buddies out want to put us in jail! Do you get the picture now that the Government is not your friend and dosen't represent the American people but Corporate greed and corruption! A quote by Thomas Jefferson sums it all up.I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around will deprive the people of all property until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered. The issuing power should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, to whom it properly belongs. I believe that would be talking about the privately owned Federal Reserve Bank who is robbing us blind! We live in an America that has more people incarcerated than any other country in the World! Do you still think we are the land of the free!

Views: 51

Comment

You need to be a member of 12160 Social Network to add comments!

Join 12160 Social Network

Latest Activity

Boris commented on Boris's page Blue Checkmark leftists quietly deleting their violent tweets aimed at the Covington students
"quietly deleting their violent tweets"
8 minutes ago
Diana posted a video

GUILTY: Being White & Wearing a MAGA Hat in Public

It didn’t matter who instigated the incident between the Covington Catholic high schoolers and the Indian drummer, because the MSM had a narrative to push. T...
16 minutes ago
Marklar's Ghost favorited Nikki's blog post 'You filthy, abnormal animal’: graphic contents of anonymous letter sent by FBI to Martin Luther King
20 minutes ago
Diana posted photos
37 minutes ago
Boris commented on Diana's photo
45 minutes ago
Diana's 2 photos were featured
47 minutes ago
Boris favorited Less Prone's video
53 minutes ago
Diana favorited dogitydog's discussion OOOPS!
58 minutes ago
Diana favorited Chris of the family Masters's video
1 hour ago
Diana favorited Doc Vega's blog post 2000 Radioactive Wild Boars Threaten Fukushima
1 hour ago
Nazda Pokmov commented on Nikki's video
Thumbnail

A Vicious Racist Homosexual. J Edgar Hoover

"The FBI of today is NOT WHAT YOU THINK IT IS.....it is an agency made up of very evil folks....don't let anyone tell you otherwise."
2 hours ago
dogitydog favorited Chris of the family Masters's video
2 hours ago
dogitydog commented on Diana's photo
Thumbnail

Gilette Objectifying Women - Can't They Do Better?

"Is that the best a man can get? I'm good with that!"
2 hours ago
dogitydog favorited Raz Putin's discussion H.R.204 - American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2019 (US withdrawl from the UN)
2 hours ago
dogitydog replied to Raz Putin's discussion H.R.204 - American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2019 (US withdrawl from the UN)
"You know what they say. "If it sounds too good to be true......." Sure would solve a lot of problems though. Agenda 21/2030 for starters."
2 hours ago
dogitydog replied to dogitydog's discussion OOOPS!
"The only mistake was letting the cat out of the bag. Prove that she is alive!"
3 hours ago

Please remember this website is supported by your donations...

© 2019   Created by truth.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service

content and site copyright 12160.info 2007-2015 - all rights reserved. unless otherwise noted