Skip to comments.Jailed for $ 280. The Return of Debtors' Prisons
Posted on 04/26/2012 7:39:45 AM PDT by ex-Texan
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.
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. * * *
"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 * * *
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
(Excerpt) Read more at finance.yahoo.com ...
They all should be thrown out of office by popular demand but they will not be because we no longer live in a free democratic republic. America has been turned into a fascist country where the political parties are an open joke and a sham and merely take orders from wealthy corporations and corrupt organizations like the CFR.
Not even "free political speech" is sacred anymore:
Nothing new here.
Since the early nineties, Debtor’s Prison has been in full swing should, for example, a divorced father get laid off who owes matriarchy suppor. . .errr I mean tax-free alimon. . .errrr I mean “CHILD” support and the courts take six months to determine if he, by some miracle, be granted a downward modification.
Meanwhile the original amount of CS continues to acrue resulting in instant arrears. Said father can easily lose his professional licenses including driver’s license and be thrown into debtor’s prison. Good luck getting a “father’s rights” attorney.
Misleading headline: Jailed for $ 280. The Return of Debtors' Prisons
They aren’t going to jail for not paying debt.
They are going to jail for not showing up to court.
“impossible for students to walk away from education loans”
What’s wrong with making that impossible? The rest of us have to pay our debts. Why exempt students, aside from strengthening the (D)o-nothing voter base?
Where was ABC News when a Democrat-run Pittsburgh suburb jailed a woman over $152 in unpaid local wage tax a couple of years ago?
Jeepers. Thanks for the ping!
Know a guy whose alimony/child support was set at an income he was earning when he was making great money as a builder. Since the bottom fell out, he still has to pay the same amount. Since he can’t, he spends his nights and weekends in jail.
Know another builder who got creamed in a divorce. Ex-wife brought him in front of a judge so he would pay an $800 doctor bill. “Judge, I simply do not have the money” “Doesn’t matter, sell some of your assets. You have 30 days to pay or else”
The problem was people fresh out of college had no assets and often little income. A newly minted pair of lawyers, for instance, with over $200,000 of student lones and earning well over $150,000 combined income, could simply file for bankruptcy and walk away from all that debt.
Clearly there were abuses.
No surprise here. My current “hubby” pays so much CS that he cannot possibly live on his own income. That’s where I come in to play. He is not in arrears but would be if not for my income. More and more states are changing family court laws to include the NON-CUSTODIAL stepparent’s income in CS calculations. And look the other way when first wife/biomom remarries sugar step daddy.
This is due to the fact that the higher the amount collected (or shown to be owed) the more kickbacks the local CS collection offices get from the federales as “incentives.” The courts know this and have ZERO reason to lower CS in case of hardship.
That’s why more and more “second wives” are refusing to marry their men legally.
Not really. The charges may not say "Failure to pay debt" but they are a direct result of failing to pay the debt or of being poor.
If you can't pay the debt, so you get fined with legal fees because you can't pay the debt. Now you don't pay the legal fees which are probably astronomical relative to the debt you owed in the first place, so you get charged with contempt of court and thrown in jail. It's all a direct result of failure to pay.
Whats wrong with making that impossible?
Simple, because it removes any incentive on the loaning party to do proper care before making loan.
One of the problems we have in this nation today is it is too easy to borrow money.
I was shocked the first time I saw someone using a credit card buying food. If you are buying necessities on credit you are on a downward spiral.
What makes a student loan so sacrosanct? We as a society allow for all kinds of debt relief on amounts far greater than school loans. Why are school loans specifically rigged to be impossible to be discharged?
For example, a person who never took out a school loan but bought a million dollar house in CA with a federally backed mortgage at the top of the market defaults, declares bankruptcy, accepts the consequences and the taxpayers get stuck with a half million dollar bill. How is that better than a 20 to 100k dollar school loan?
I do not want to subsidize bad behavior but it is surreal to argue that some debt should and some debt should not be dischargeable.
“...state troopers showed up at her home...”
So, they knew her correct address.
I bet the letters, certified mail, and notices postd on her door made it to the correct address too.
She didn’t go to jail for not paying $280. She went to jail for ignoring the notices, because ‘somebody’ told her she ‘didn’t have to pay it’.
Terribly misleading headline. This is not new, nor are people being jailed for being in debt, persay. Stupid journalism.
I don’t know if you watch the series Entourage, but there was a funny exchange between Ari Gold (Ari Emmanuel) and his best friend, Andrew:
Ari: That’s why you’ve got to get an ironclad prenup.
Andrew: Did you get one?
Ari: Hell no, I’d kill her before I got a divorce.
“our corrupt Congress made it impossible for students to walk away from education loans”
Are you kidding? Walking away from student debt is about as hard as avoiding jury duty. Everyone does it. What the feds did was make it easier for students to get into debt. For that millions of lazy bums owe them ire. Not that they notice it, as they still vote for Obama.
“they are a direct result of failing to pay the debt or of being poor...It’s all a direct result of failure to pay.”
Methinks you need to look up the word “direct.”
It particularly help when the judges salaries (as in some parts of Indiana) are paid out of the fees received from debt collectors' filings.
You are really naive about how corrupt every level of govt in the US has become.
We have the best government money can buy.
And under (a), you will receive a 1099 for forgiveness of debt, and then the IRS will pursue you for the taxes.
If you NEED to use a credit card to buy food, there is a problem (tho’ food should have higher priority for CC use than new clothes or Nike shoes, I think). However, many of us use the credit card to buy food because it is simpler, and pay off our CC accounts in full every month.
Debts to the Govt. get special treatment. Try to stop paying a debt to the IRS...
This is an abusive mess of the courts. We have a civil court system in which the worst that can AND SHOULD be able to happen to you is forfeiture of items, liens on accounts, and garnishments of wages. CRIMINAL PENALTIES SUCH AS JAIL SHOULD NEVER APPLY, even if you don’t show up for court. In that event, if you don’t show up, there could be an immediate and default judgement, BUT NEVER A JAILING.
This will be used against ordinary Americans to round-up and destroy us, folks. Comon, figure this stuff out.
For colleges that's pretty cool. Now, they can increase the tuition, knowing that a student is liable for any loans for the rest of their life. Cool huh?
College tuition would radically drop if their was no Gov't grants, loans, etc. But, if a college knows they will eventually get paid they have no incentive to lower prices.
Thanks for posting.
Pretty soon, I'm just going to ignore such salcious stories and posts because all too often; these details are left out of the headline.
“free democratic republic”
No such thing exists anywhere, we once had a constitutional republic but a free democratic republic sounds to me like a contradiction in terms. Yes, I know how the term is used everywhere but when I think about it it still sounds like a contradiction.
The first two definitions at dictionary.com under Direct used as an adjective apply.
“She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn’t have to pay it,”
Somebody is liable for the cause of her false arrest.
Future bill paying should be easy.
Yep, lookos like the article lies.
When will I ever learn?
Exactly what is it that makes you believe you have a “right” to file bankruptcy, to avoid your responsibilities?
“Of course, our corrupt Congress made it impossible for students to walk away from education loans and nearly impossible to clear up medical bills and other debt by filing for bankruptcy.”
Do you believe in any sort of bankruptcy protection?
More likely they are going go jail for not paying the legal fees that were court ordered after they failed to pay the debt in the first place. Or they are going to jail for failing to pay court ordered child support. Both are debts, but once it becomes ordered by the court and you still can't pay it you go to jail for contempt of court.
I’d rather get rid of bankruptcy laws altogether. They’re just fancy welfare.
And if you went bankrupt, then someone still had to cover the costs. Life is not a game of Monopoly.
As to college tuition, you are drastically oversimplifying things. College is not expensive simply because there’s lots of financial aid available. Salaries, facility costs, administration, regulations, etc all drive tuition up as well.
As for bankruptcy, yes the loss is factored in. And it happens everyday. Bankruptcy is one of the reasons America has a great innovative economy.
Correct. Unless your name is Bill Clinton, you go to jail for contempt of the legal process.
So you think people should be allowed to accumulate debt and then just walk away from it leaving the creditor with a loss of the money?
Most people do not read the articles and editorials even when reminded to do so . Most freepers are like cockroaches and swarm in merely to post stupid and abusive comments without thinking more deeply about the subject. My point was proved for me by all the crazy numbskulls that believed the housing bubble was not real and house prices would continue rising forever.
Methinks people will soon be getting arrested for expressing political opinions. Obama's thought police are out there. Get ready to spend time in Camp FEMA very soon:
. . .
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Wow....most FReepers are like cockroaches!! Who knew!?!?
If you cannot meet your responsibilities, then they are void (or voidable) in both a de facto and de jure sense. You cannot get money out of an empty pocket.
BTW, medical debts are very possible to discharge in toto, provided that the Debtor's income is below a certain threshhold. There is a short list of 19 non-dischargeable debts in 11 U.S.C. Sec. 523. The honest but unfortunate debtor is entitled by right to discharge all other debts.
No, they really wouldn’t. The majority of a given college’s budget comes from non-govt sources, and most grants come from industry.
Why should students be able to "walk away" from their loans???
I am not LEO, Judge, Lawyer...or even an apologist for the police.
But this article was very one sided, and did not address some basic questions about the woman’s action/or lack of action.
If what I have witnessed in the past is any indication, this woman probably ignored a half dozen notices. I guarantee that she could have kept the courts 100% out of this, if she had been even mildly pro-active (i.e., answering the phone and opening the mail).
The thing is....I pay it off every month. So, I get to use their money..for a few days. And I actually get some discounts when I use my cards.
If you know how to use credit cards..they are a good tool.
Personally, it matters not to me whether the incarceration is for not paying or ignoring the court BS. I simply don’t have time or energy to spend my remaining days on the planet dealing with courts and such, when the complaint is bogus to begin with.
At my age, every minute is dear to me and I refuse to waste any of them on this kind of crap. So maybe they’ll jail me, hmmm..... 3 hots and a cot, better medical and dental than I now have; all I would really be missing is my little doggie. I could even go for another Master’s Degree, on THEIR nickle this time.
There are fathers-rights attorney’s out there, some very good ones in fact. The problem is most father’s are so screwed over by the courts, financially and otherwise, they no longer have the funds to begin to pay a retainer; leaving many men with no representation or attempting to fight the system Pro Se.
What has happened in our nations Family Courts is a complete crime. Men are continually turned into non-entities, removed of the rights of a parent and legally termed visitors in their child’s lives where all contact is determined from the bench, left up to the mother to allow and rarely is a mother held in contempt of court for refusing visitation, phone calls etc.
Although every single statistics proves women are the higher percentage of parents who fail to pay child support, it is rare to find a women, regardless of the amount she owes, end up in jail or even have her face plastered on dead-beat lists designed to humiliate a parent.
Courts can determine the amount a man SHOULD be making, not what he literally is making then use that figure to determine support. Even in this economy where highly qualified people are forced to take lower positions, with much lower salaries, hundreds of thousands of men are being charged a monthly support payment that often is more than they bring in a month. Even when a man can achieve a reduction in support (as you mentioned) it does not erase the arrears that continually accrue interest and penalties making it virtually impossible to pay off. While this was done to prevent parents from taking lower paying employment to lessen their support obligation, that is a rare occurrence. Instead, men who have no other option but to take a lower paying job, while facing the prices of everything increasing, are harmed. Currently the laws do not allow a judge to reduce the amount of arrears owed for any reason whatsoever. Unless a man can prove fraud, they are at the mercy of the courts, sometimes for life.
But it isn’t only the courts that are the problem; there is a huge problem in the way society looks at divorced/non-married men with a child(ren). When a couple is together and one party loses a job or they face some other form of financial emergency, society is perfectly accepting of the family tightening their belts, doing with less and giving their children less, as long as the basics are covered.
When a non-custodial parent loses their job or faces another financial crisis, society immediately turns that person into a deadbeat if they do not continue to pay a set amount, each month. Even if the man (as is usually the case) loses their job, becomes ill or has an accident or is faced with a financial emergency, he is immediately considered a deadbeat. When this disparity brought up to defenders of our current support system they can only respond with anger, usually resorting to calling the parent a loser, deadbeat, criminal etc etc. Most will scream that man should work 4-5 jobs if needed to pay their support; no quarter is given, regardless of situation. Sadly, our society is so accepting of our current system, making changes to it will be virtually impossible.
I know this has been a long post, but there was one case that may interest you. This was posted to FR years ago when it happened and with some digging I could find it again.
A man in Arizona was divorcing his wife after twenty years or so of marriage. During the divorce proceedings, she all of a sudden claimed to be pregnant by the man. Their adult daughter, worked in a DNA lab whose job it was to determine paternity. Although the man claimed there was no way possible his ex-wife could be pregnant with his child the courts were presented a DNA paternity test showing he was the father.
The man, knowing there was no way his ex-wife could be pregnant (they had not had relations during the time) continued to protest being charged child support for child he had never seen, nor had a single other member of his family seen. He was also ordered to pay insurance, when his insurance company could not produce a single bill for the child he used that to fight his case in court. Over and over the judges ordered the wife to allow visitation which never happened, to provide pictures that never came. Finally the judge ordered the ex-wife to produce the actual child in court. It took years for this to happen, costing this man tens of thousands of dollars in legal fee’s. His ex-wives attorney btw was paid by the state.
The “mother”, not knowing what else to do, literally “borrowed” a neighbors child (who was slightly older than the child she claimed) and brought that child to court. In the meantime, the neighbor had called the police claiming her child had been kidnapped! The child made such a fuss in the court, refusing to call “mom” mom the police were brought in.
It turns out the ex-wife had lied about the complete pregnancy, had collected hundred of thousands of dollars in support for a child that never existed. Her older daughter simple forged a DNA report from the lab she worked at claiming the child belonged to the poor man.
Although the court stopped the support payments immediately and ordered the ex-wife to repay all the monies she had collected, the ex-husband was forced to go to court and file to get anything back. Last I looked he still had not been returned a penny. She was also ordered to pay his legal fee’s and the state back for her legal representation. The last time I looked, no action had been taken against her legally although she continued to fail to repay any of those debts. She should have gone to prison.
That is how screwed our system is. A child that does not even exist can be ordered support and the court is perfectly fine with enforcing that order even if the father has never once set eyes on his “child”.
Men have been forced to pay support simply because a woman names them the father, even after a DNA test proves the child is not the man’s, the order continues. California is the worst state for this. Thousand of men who have never even met the woman they are said to have a child with are ordered to pay support for a child born to her. The “law” says if the man does not prove, within a sufficient amount of time, that they are not the father, they are stuck. Men who have had orders sent to addresses they have not lived at for years, who never receive any court papers have found themselves arrested, their licences suspended, tax refunds seized etc. It does not matter that they never received any court order; they did not prove they were not the father, the name matches, they are stuck.
Thousands of other men are forced to pay support for a child born to their spouse from an adulterous affair. These cases are some of the worst. Not only is the jilted spouse on the under threat of arrest if they do not pay for a child they did not create the real bio-father is let off the hook to go his merry way.
There are horror story after horror story out of our family court systems. Severe changes need to be made, but as long as society continues to support our current system no politician is willing to lift a hand to do a thing.
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