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Thread: Return of debtor's prison

  1. #10

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    Quote Originally Posted by quinn14 View Post
    You are correct. But, as mentioned in examples above, many times the "agreed" payments can't be met. I've seen many times where dads are told to pay amounts that leave them with basically nothing every month. How are they supposed to live? It doesn't make sense because if the couple chose to stay together, the guy wouldn't spend that "ageed" amount if it left him desolate. My own sister has 2 college degrees. One is in nursing and the other is in exercise physiology. She quit her job when she was getting a divorce. The reason she did that is so she could squeeze more money out of her ex in alimony and child support. Now that guy has to pay amounts that he shouldn't have to because she has the ability to make money and actually does now that it's all over with. But, the court won't lower his payments. These situations are much different than a guy who buys a house and can't make the payments. Many times, the payments just aren't fair.
    Failure to pay child support can be a criminal offense. That's a different story. I think one can cherry pick examples where on the surface the debtor appears to be screwed by the system but rarely is the whole story known. Yet there are other examples where it's just a very small exception to the rule. By and large the debtor is often playing the system to the best of their advantage to avoid their responsibility. By the time a judgement comes along the debtor has had many bites of the apple to come into compliance with a court order but is most often intentionally frustrating the situation. This person has moved the situation from being a civil matter into ALSO being a criminal matter. The courts then take a hard line and finds them in contempt. Many or most of these people have work release programs or serve their sentence on weekends. In the vast amount of cases, I venture to say, the debtor is actively trying to avoid their obligation 1) to pay the judgement and 2) to comply with legal order from the court. They pretty much deserve what they've earned. Consequences flow from bad choices and these most of these people being discussed, I'm guessing, have a track record of making bad choices and compounding their woes.

  2. #11
    Olympic Champ r.payton@att.net's Avatar
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    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    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."
    I disagree -in the first post the lady ended up locked up and it was a clerical error .Also with the added incentive of an extra 40% debt collectors will go to greater lengths to collect monies-leal or not.
    You know, I think I would rather be a man than a god . We don't need anyone to believe in us. We just keep going anyhow. It's what we do.

  3. #12
    Olympic Champ r.payton@att.net's Avatar
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    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    PM,
    Would you have handcuffed the lady in the first post ?
    You know, I think I would rather be a man than a god . We don't need anyone to believe in us. We just keep going anyhow. It's what we do.

  4. #13

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    Quote Originally Posted by r.payton@att.net View Post
    PM,
    Would you have handcuffed the lady in the first post ?
    R.payton, there seems to be more to this story than what's released in the posted article.

    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.
    Jailed for $280: The Return of Debtors' Prisons - Yahoo! Finance

    If the Illinois residents want to change their laws over this then fine. I plead ignorance to their laws but the story posted is a bit sensational calling it a debtors prison.

    I've arrested many people over the years for shoplifting. One that comes to mind stole a 40 ouncer and was convicted of petty theft (with a prior ) and was sentenced to state prison. On his rap sheet was a dozen or so convictions from shoplifting to armed robbery to ADW and burglary. Because he had numerous prior thefts the petty thesr of shoplifting a bottle of beer was a felony. My point is, the author of the above story would probably lament how a poor minority was jailed for simply taking a $3 item from a 7-11. What an outrageous system! When in reality the whole story known changes everything.
    Last edited by pm01; 05-05-2012 at 03:26 PM.

  5. #14

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    PM, I understand your rationale about the bottle of beer. But as an officer, I assume you've had to appear in front of a grand jury at one time or another. Here is the confusing part for me.

    I served on the grand jury a couple of years ago. It was one week per month for 3 months. Every single case that came in was only looked at for that specific case. We, as jurors, were not allowed to ask about prior convictions. So, if a misdemeanor court ever sent a case to the grand jury for a guy stealing a bottle of beer, we would have never known his priors. How does the law accumulate these prior convictions and let the grand jury know, if they aren't supposed to know? Trust me, there were cases that got to us that we were all just bewildered with. We couldn't understand why it wasn't handled in misdemeanor court and we dismissed them. I am now assuming that they might have been cases like the one you described. If so, I am really curious to what a grand jury knew when hearing the case of a bottle of beer.

  6. #15
    Olympic Champ r.payton@att.net's Avatar
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    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    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.
    I agree 100% that the wording is beyond screwed up . I also think we agree on the types of individuals who constantly ignore bills and even summonses . Yet the article also states debt collectors are getting local LEOs to do their dirty work for them-THAT has to piss you off . There should no way in HELL a debt collector can file some BS paperwork then send you out into HARM's Way.Yet here it is.
    The private business sector sector should never use the police as debt collectors the judiciary here has failed miserably.
    As to SENSATIONALISM -well, that sells papers .
    You know, I think I would rather be a man than a god . We don't need anyone to believe in us. We just keep going anyhow. It's what we do.

  7. #16

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    Quinn,

    I worked in CA and never appeared before a Grand Jury. I could never imagine a CA Grand Jury would ever assemble for a misdemeanor. The DA would be crazy.

    In my case example I arrested the suspect for a misdemeanor shoplifting. I pulled his CHS (criminal history or rap sheet) where it showed his prior theft convictions along with time served. In CA, a petty theft coupled with a prior theft conviction with any time served changes the charge from petty theft to a felony theft (666 PC). I booked him for 490.5/666 PC. The superior court jury would hear his past convictions at trial in this case because those past convictions are elements of the charged offense. Generally past convictions are not allowed to be entered in trial but there's a great many exceptions.

  8. #17

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    Quote Originally Posted by pm01 View Post
    Quinn,

    I worked in CA and never appeared before a Grand Jury. I could never imagine a CA Grand Jury would ever assemble for a misdemeanor. The DA would be crazy
    That sounds weird to me. I was on a county grand jury not a state but on almost every case that was referred to us on the grand jury, we heard an officer give testimony. Sometimes others would give testimony too, but there was almost always an officer. It got to the point that we all knew whether the cop would be prepared or not based on which department he was from. Some city police officers came in with all their ducks in a row. Others were missing paperwork or couldn't find it. I have to say that the state police were not very well organized. The smaller the city, the better organized. It's probably due to a lesser case load, but it did seem to be the case.

  9. #18

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    R.payton,

    I have to plea complete ignorance in the Illinois procedure. If its true as you say that a holder of debt can go into some government office and merely swear out complain of debt which triggers a cop to arrest someone----well I'm flabbergasted. I can't imagine that's the process but I defer to you.

    I imagined some type of complaint would be entered in civil court. A order would be sent to the debtor to appear. Usually I would suppose an failure to appear in court would result in a default finding for the debt holder and an order entered for the debtor to make good on the debt. Eventually the debt holder would return to court asking for relief because the debtor never paid. The court would then order the debtor to court and when failing to appear a contempt order handed down. That would go to the sheriff or PD to serve. Pls understand this is just my supposition. I have arrested many people for warrants and recall several for being contempt. I never in my entire career knew what the contempt was for and never, ever knowingly arrested a person for debt related offense except child support warrants. Sorry for typos I'm on my phone in the market---but will pay for my tequila.

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