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    Olympic Champ r.payton@att.net's Avatar
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    Default Return of debtor's prison

    ailed for $280: The Return of Debtors' Prisons

    By Alain Sherter | CBS MoneyWatch – Mon, Apr 23, 2012 1:40 PM EDT








    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.


    One of the top reasons for incarceration in Indiana DOC ? Unpaid child support .I'm not talking dead beat dads either -guys working 2 jobs and can only make partial payments are common . NOW, once they have a felony there will be NO more 2 jobs but happily , although a man's life is ruined, his ex can now go on welfare .
    Follow these 2 simple rules :
    1)- NEVER get married

    2)-shoot anyone trying to arrest you.
    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.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    Quote Originally Posted by r.payton@att.net View Post
    ailed for $280: The Return of Debtors' Prisons

    One of the top reasons for incarceration in Indiana DOC ? Unpaid child support .I'm not talking dead beat dads either -guys working 2 jobs and can only make partial payments are common . NOW, once they have a felony there will be NO more 2 jobs but happily , although a man's life is ruined, his ex can now go on welfare .
    Follow these 2 simple rules :
    1)- NEVER get married

    2)-shoot anyone trying to arrest you.
    My dad worked 32yrs at a steel mill. (My parent's are still married btw). He told me of guys who would get married, have children and work crazy amounts of overtime to earn money and give their families nice things. We're talking like 70-80hrs a week. Then, when things go bad and they decide to get a divorce, the judge only looked at how much the dude made in a year. Not how much overtime he worked to earn it. Overtime is not guaranteed, so the guy is not guaranteed to make the same amount of money every year. If still married, he just wouldn't buy as much stuff if he didn't make as much. But the judges awarded ridiculous child support payments and basically bankrupted these guys. Dad even told me of a dude he'd worked with for more than a decade who came in one day and told everyone that he was quitting. When asked why, he said that he was going through a divorce and couldn't afford to make this much money.......It's a crazy world in which we live.

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    Olympic Champ RYou's Avatar
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    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    My sister in law filed a deadbeat complaint for alimony with the court against her ex on a Friday and the sheriff came out, handcuffed him and hauled him into county jail for 2 nights over the weekend. He didn't get out until the judge heard his case late Monday PM. The dude is $36K behind on payments and she's already sucked his 401K dry. Dude took a sales job and is paid from the next state over which doesn't acknowledge NJ garnishment court orders.
    Life's not the breaths you take, the breathing in and out that gets you through the day ain't what it's all about. It's the moments that take your breath away.

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    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    Quote Originally Posted by RYou View Post
    My sister in law filed a deadbeat complaint for alimony with the court against her ex on a Friday and the sheriff came out, handcuffed him and hauled him into county jail for 2 nights over the weekend. He didn't get out until the judge heard his case late Monday PM. The dude is $36K behind on payments and she's already sucked his 401K dry. Dude took a sales job and is paid from the next state over which doesn't acknowledge NJ garnishment court orders.
    Here is what I can't understand. If the guy literally can't pay the amount, why do they arrest him? If he were able to make the payments and got a huge raise, the girl would probably take him back to court and force him to pay more. But when he's behind they don't go back to court to lower the payments. The guy has to be able to live and by that I mean more than work, sleep and eat. If he's 36k behind and his 401k is drained, and she's still living, then I would guess that the payments may have been a bit too steep to begin with. Of course, I don't know this story particularly, but if she's already sucked his 401k dry then I would assume he's had his wages garnished before. Which leads me to believe that he can't afford the payments.

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

    Thanks for mentioning garnishments,RYOU.I'd forgotten the rare instances where some guys have families (or are able to find work), then to have x amount of their check garnished for (after interest)basically forever .
    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.

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

    Q,
    Once you are locked up the payment schedule doesn't even change ! Actually. I think they may add interest.So you get punished 2x -you lose your freedom and owe more coming out than you did going in. Also, In indiana , ( and this is what I think you should hold out for in your case ) , You can get on a system where you go to work all week, pay your fine , then sign into jail for weekends ?
    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. #7

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    Quote Originally Posted by r.payton@att.net View Post
    You can get on a system where you go to work all week, pay your fine , then sign into jail for weekends ?
    I worked with a guy who lived in Connersville, Indiana. He was on a daily work release program. He'd come to work every day and drive back to jail when work was over. It kind of reminded me of Otis locking himself up in Mayberry.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    Just so we all understand clearly, these people are not being jailed for having a debt, but for having failed to comply with a court order---right?

    I never dealt with the civil side of the law but what I have experienced is that a person with a judgement against them must make payments as negotiated between parties or by direction of the court. When the person holding the judgement fails to keep their schedule the stakes and consequences can escalate. Eventually the court holds them in contempt to get their attention it this usually happens after many opportunities to come into compliance.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Return of debtor's prison

    Quote Originally Posted by pm01 View Post
    Just so we all understand clearly, these people are not being jailed for having a debt, but for having failed to comply with a court order---right
    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.

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