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 ...
The best thing about using Credit Cards, is that if you get ripped off, you have some recourse.
wow... very good strategy for psyching her out
Brytani, you are preaching to the choir! I saw this first hand with my current hubby. What has happened is that all those “good intentioned” laws of the late eighties to make “dead beat dads” pay instead of the women landing on welfare have backfired.
Government has officially relegated the father obsolete. First with the minority population through Welfare and now with the “middle class” by incentivizing divorce/ditching the father while turning dad into a walking wallet and nothing else.
In other news, with all these gay marriages happening and the subsequent adoption of children or one of the “partners” having children from a surrogate, the NOW gang will no longer be able to deny Parental Alienation as a tool of the “abusive father to gain custody” (TM). Once these “partners” get divorced, the judges won’t know WHO to legally bankrupt AND when the inevitable parental alienation ensues, there will be proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that, yes, parental alienation DOES exists!!
God himself approves of debt cancellation. Under Moses, every 50 years, there was a national debt reset, called the Year of Jubilee. No, it should not be taken as an opportunity to avoid responsibility. But the point is that sometimes debt becomes a weapon of enslavement. God in his law is telling us to value freedom at least as much as we value honoring contracts.
Furthermore, if we had such a periodic reset, think how it would curb undue reliance on credit markets. Lenders would have to be planning for the reset by coming up with realistic assessments of creditworthiness and repayment plans that could actually work. It’s all good.
Why should she have to do anything? The debt was not hers, it was a mistake of billing by someone else. The courts allowed a (to me) illegal court action against her by the collection agency. The court should be holding all who participated in her arrest and incarceration in contempt of court. They should all be in jail. Every time someone is railroaded by the courts like this less and less people have faith in the justice system.
The problem is when you have debt forgiveness while at the same time forcing lenders to lend to undesirables, lest they be charged with discrimination.
Commodities, ag land, and gold and getting rather inflated now.
Yes, of course that is what created the housing bubble. It just goes along with our massive government over spending.
I walked away from my student debt. They caught up with me. I’m slowly repaying.
The courts are also culpable in the process and should also take blame and punishment.
The essential problem goes far beyond real estate and is found in the very corrupt Federal Reserve system we live under -- which issues almost worthless fiat currency -- and the private banking cartel that runs the system gets to charge interest on every dollar that is printed to the taxpayer.
I was too, until I learned about "points", now I pay for everything I can by credit card.
I bought a new car about a year ago and tried to get the dealer to let me pay with a credit card, he wouldn't go for it though. The $20,000 balance, after trade in, I wanted to pay by card would have cost him 3%, ($600).
I haven't paid credit card interest in many years.
When you don't pay for things by card, you are indirectly subsidizing those who do.
I have a daughter...that will have a 4 yr degree in Legal Studies this yr....and it didn't cost her OR me...( Ha!! ) an arm and a leg.
She went to a J.C. first..and got her A.S. and a creditial...( Para-legal ).
I think we are taking the ‘billing mistake’ at face value...and maybe we shouldn’t.
1. Did she receive services? Yes
2. Was she responsible for the bill? Yes.
If there was some confusion over how much insurance was supposed to pay etc., its still her responsibility to make sure the bill gets paid. Its that simple.
In alot of ways, this story reminds me of the Trayvon Martin case - we are presented with a victim, with very few details, and a slanted story....this makes me immediately suspicious. The details we weren’t given probably do not advance the story.
What about it?!?!?!
How about Article 1, Section 8, Clause 4 of the Constitution of the United States?
Nothing in there about it!!
It refers to “uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies”
It does NOT say anybody has a right to file backrupty for any reason!
If you get billed for something that was not yours then you are not responsible for it.
we are presented with a victim, with very few details, and a slanted story....this makes me immediately suspicious. On that we can agree.
I always paid all my bills on time and had excellent credit. I had a modest mortgage and a home equity loan, a car payment (leased) and unfortunately some credit card debt, mostly because of my self employment at the time, debt I inherited and incurred during my divorce and some unexpected home repairs and car repair expenses and a few medical bills, but in total, not an outrageous amount but still enough, too much but very manageable while I was working less than 15k in total, excluding the 30 year conventional mortgage after 20k down of 140k at 5 ¼%, for a house appraise for 180k, but I had an excellent job and a rather high income so at the time so it didnt seem a problem.
But when I lost my job in 2009 and being that I was technically an independent contractor for my last employer, I was really screwed as I didnt even qualify for unemployment benefits.
So I went from 70k per year to zero income in a heartbeat.
As the economy really sucked and my job prospects were very poor in my industry, I prioritized my bills mortgage, utilities including my cell phone which was my only phone, basic groceries (and Im talking a beans and rice and raman noodles subsistence), car lease payment and car insurance. I had enough in reserve in savings including cashing out my roll over 401k to float me on these for about 12 months. And of course there were the funds in savings that I put aside for the IRS to make my quarterly self employment taxes and the tax penalties on the early withdrawal from my 401k. Everyone else went to the bottom of the list that being credit card debt and medical bills. It wasnt that I didnt want to pay -I just didnt have the funds it to pay them.
I reached out to all my creditors to apprise them of my situation and to work whatever terms I could. Mostly what I got was Im so sorry but you still need to make the minimum payment or We will make a note on your account regarding your call. Even after I contacted these companies, they still called me, some every single day or at least once a week. One debt collector who I called back to explain my situation was incredibly rude and nasty and said to me, Well, youre calling me from a cell phone so you cant be all that bad off if you still have a phone and if you can afford a cell phone and you obviously havent starved to death yet, then you should be able to pay me and if not, just where are you getting your money from? I want to know who is supporting you I want to know who they are and how I can contact them. Somebody is obviously supporting you and your life style that allows you to eat and have a cell phone and since you obviously must have family and or friends with money who support you, you can just borrow more money from them since they have it. You just really need to borrow more from them so you can pay your debt to XYZ Company. ;(,
I wish I was joking or making this up but this is what this scum bag actually said to me and why I think and at least in my experience, some if not many debt collectors are the most bottom feeders of the lowest bottom feeders.
At that point, in tears and incredibly angry and upset, I just hung up on him and I stopped answering any more phone calls from creditors all together. All the collection letters I got were opened, read and then dutifully put into a file. This was not the only creditor BTW who suggested that I hit up my family and friends for a loan in order to pay my bill I didnt think that was legal, nor calling before 8:00 AM or after 9:00 PM or on weekends or holidays, but in my experience some collection companies do that anyway.
After a year of being unemployed, I eventually got a part time minimum wage retail job, sold my house in a short sale (I was just barely under water (less than 2k) but only because of the very depressed market) and I moved in with my niece while I struggled to get myself and my finances back in order, eventually getting a full time job but at less than half the income I previously made.
For a time after getting back to work, I sent some money to my creditors but since it was much less than the minimum they expected, it only increased the level of harassment that not extended to calling me and my place of work but also calling and harassing my relatives and friends and former employers again, some things that were probably illegal but some of they did it anyway.
Then one day I received via certified mail a court notice that I was being served in court seeking a judgment against me by one of my creditors. The very next thing I did was contact a lawyer; he answered the judgment on my behalf and then we (I) file bankruptcy. Next I received a certified letter from the IRS saying they were going to levy my wages because when I filed my taxes and remitted a payment, the payment didnt fully cover my liability. The next thing I did was make an appointment at the local IRS office.
Bankruptcy was the very last thing I ever wanted to do and I still feel rather sick about it today as it was my intention, after getting back on my feet, to pay off all my debt. And bankruptcy wasnt something I could really afford to do at the time; it cost me about $ 1,200. I used the small amount of money I had put aside to buy a used car and a move into a modest apartment and out of my nieces house in order to pay for the bankruptcy and court costs.
But the bottom line is that while you may ignore harassing phone calls and letters from creditors; and I certainly got to the point where it was completely futile explaining over and over again that I didnt have the money to pay what they wanted me to pay and was tired of hearing the verbal abuse that some resorted to; you just dont ignore official court orders or official notices from the IRS. The bankruptcy gave me a clean start; one I hope and never intend to have to go through again, and I worked out a payment plan with the IRS to avoid a payroll garnishment- and I diligently make payments every month something I will do for several more years. Surprisingly the IRS was and has been so far, pretty good and fair to deal with once I negotiated with them.
If you can reasonably work something out with a creditor, you should; if you cant and they are completely unreasonable, I can understand ignoring them, but when you get an official court summons, thats something you just dont ignore - ever even if you think the debt is not yours or is an illegitimate claim.
Not paying a debt to a creditor, legitimate or not, will not land you in jail. Not answering a court summons to appear in court or answer the summons however will.
You said it!
Read the book in 2007. It was like a preview.
But it is also a bit to much for most.
“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?”
Let me know when you raise a posse to go after the banks, politicians and federal government who created massive debt, walked away and left you, me and our kids holding the bag.
I’ll ride shotgun.
The fact’s that u have in your post i’s amazing. It amaze’s me that the’se thing’s kan happen and that the court’s let the’se thing’s happen. Men haf very littel wright’s in the court’s.
His wife makes $12k/month, and he put her through school. His divorce cost him $500k and he had to go on food stamps. The system is inherently unfair to men.
One truth that I want to share with you is that life is often daunting and circumstances get pretty wicked at times. But nothing is as daunting as major health issues. I have been battling health problems since 2002 and my health issues are more complex today than ever before. I believe people battling cancer should not ever be harassed unmercifully by debt collectors. As long as you have your health you have much to be grateful for and that fact alone goes a long way to helping you triumph as a billing harassment survivor. Thanks again.
Let me know when you raise a posse to go after the banks, politicians and federal government who created massive debt, walked away and left you, me and our kids holding the bag.
Try answering the question that was asked instead of changing the subject to something completely irrelevant. Do you think a person should be able to borrow money and then just say to the creditor "oops, can't pay it back too bad you're out the money?"
Ive had some health issues too but thankfully nothing too serious and I have a whole lot to be grateful for especially my niece and her husband who took me in, fed me and loaned me their car to look for work and eventually get to work when I had nothing flat broke and jobless. I dont know where I would have ended up without them it could have been a homeless shelter I shudder to even think of that. If it had not been for them and a good friend and the good fortune of selling my house with the help of a great real estate agent, going to settlement two days before the foreclosure, I could have ended up on the streets.
But with their help and me not giving up, I eventually got a new and better paying job last July and two years ago moved into my own apartment and bought a car so things are looking up. As much as I didnt want to do it, tried to avoid it, the bankruptcy was the best thing at the time. It was such a relief just to have the harassment stop.
I had incurred some medical debt because my previous employer moved us to a high deductible health plan with an HRA that had a $3,000 deductible for a single person and Rxs didnt even count toward the deductible. And the employer only funded half of the deductible through the HRA. High deductible health plans with an HSA or HRA are great but only if you are young (and at 50, Im not so young any more) and healthy, dont go to the doctors much and have time to accumulate funds for future use.
Unlike an FSA, with an HSA or HRA you can only use the funds that have been actually deposited to your account. So if, like me your employer moves you to one of those plans and shortly afterward, you incur medical bills, you have to pay out of pocket and wait to be reimbursed as the funds accumulate. In my case, early in the first year of the new plan, during a routine physical my doctor didnt like something he saw on my EKG and ordered a nuclear stress test (and wow, was that expensive!) and some lab tests. Thankfully I was given the all clear and Im glad I had it done to make sure there wasnt a serious heart problem but I put some of the charges on a credit card as I only had about $100 in my HRA at the time and thought Id be able to recoup through the HRA and pay off the CC debt then I got laid off and then, rather than go on unemployment for the first time in my life, I took a job with a former supervisor but as an independent contractor no benefits. Big mistake and something Ill never do again.
Even though my finances had been good, I thought I was a saver and pretty frugal and had a good paying job, debt, any debt is a killer! No matter how much you think you have saved for that rainy day when its starts pouring its often not nearly enough. And unfortunately many companies farm out their debt collections to third parties, some of whom barely operate within the law and a few flagrantly violate them like the one I mentioned.
Today I live very simply and very frugally, more so than ever before. I have no debt, only have rent, utilities and car and renters insurance. I put as much as I can into my 401k and into a savings account. I have one credit card with a $500 limit that I opened to reestablish some credit and occasionally I use it for gasoline and then immediately pay it off. I cut coupons and bargain shop and the last major purchase I made was for a new TV and I paid cash for it. It took me a year to save for that and meanwhile I was watching TV on an old tube TV that the color gun had gone bad so I watched TV in B&W for the last two years. And that wasnt all that bad : ). Just having a roof over my head, a working car and meeting my basic necessities and not being supported by someone else is great.
And most of all I learned whats really important in life. Money and material things, while nice, are temporary and transitory. Family and good friends who stand by you through thick and thin are worth their weight in gold.
BTW, this story might be of interest to here who dont believe that debt collectors can be unscrupulous.
This is similar to saying that Clinton was impeached for sex.
I’m agreeing with you and adding the fact that politicians, banks and Washington have created massive debt and are walking away from it, sticking you and me with the payments.
My experience is yours, regards the IRS. Even when i screwed up my payment agreement, they worked with me to reinstate. They are not quite as evil as expected. Nice, even.
I'm not so sure it's the banks doing as much as it is the fault of Washington DC. The banks were coerced into making loans to uncreditworthy people by the fed. Of course when the bottom fell out, then the government was there with it's hand in our pockets. The bottom line is that the banks relaxed their lending standards for minorities due to pressure from the government, and plenty of people who knew they had no chance of paying wht they owed took advantage of the situation.
If you go and pick somthing up that belongs to someone else, the crime is "theft by taking." As far as I'm concerned these people who had no intention of paying back their loans are guilty of fraud at least, and should NOT be allowed to declare bankruptcy
As a typical example look here
No, the car dealer would have not only had to pay a fee (tho’ 3% is pretty high), but getting you to take out a car loan would have instead got him a commission!
* * * It is illegal for debt collectors to make empty threats about serving people with a lawsuit or seizing their home. And it was especially galling to Mey, who says she is debt-free.One of my favorite radio shows is Dave Ramsey Where people call in with debt collection horror stories and also shout out "I'm debt free !" LOL !
"They threatened to take legal action against our property and it wasn't even our debt," Mey said.
Millions of Americans are victims of this kind of mistaken debtor identity, partly because of a new breed of collectors called "debt buyers." They purchase old debts for pennies that the original creditors have given up on and then try to collect them for a big profit. Critics say debt buyers sometimes use outrageous tactics to get the money where others have failed. RFA is a debt buyer. * * *
“I walked away from my student debt. They caught up with me. Im slowly repaying.”
They occasionally catch tax cheats, too, and the IRS has a whole big enforcement section to go after them. But there’s no Student Debt Task Force. Thing is, there’s so much student debt, so many people unwilling to pay, and so few Eliot Nesses or Melvin Purvises of the debt world that it’s a stealer’s market.
“God himself approves of debt cancellation”
One thing you have to bear in mind about the Bible is that it takes place long ago. That’s why, for instance, we don’t get so uptight about its endorsement of slavery or how it suggests people who don’t keep the Sabbath should be put to death. Rich people in the olden days were less likely Warren Buffets or Mitt Romneys. They were not hedge fund managers nor corporate raiders. They were more likely guys who hired people out to bash your brains in and take your stuff.
Think of olden time money lenders as loan sharks. Unlike banks and such, loan sharks operate outside the law and therefore feel free to employ what in civil society, excepting cases of self-defense, only the government can employ only for just purposes: violence. Unalienable rights, of course, never can be sacrificed, but we do give up various privileges to belong to civilization. One of these is the privilege to bash people in the head whenever we feel like it. In return, we receive various civil rights, among them the right to receive police protection from people bashing our brains in.
Now, debt can be onerous. It can lead to something like slavery. Especially if you’re dealing with an organization outside the law, like for instance the mafia. They will make an indentured servant out of you. Banks, belonging to civil society, cannot. They can employ the courts to hound you, and the courts can imprison you, but only with due process.
Do you think the biblical rich cared about due process? Unlikely. They were part of a civil society of sorts, but not like ours. Not one that respected natural law in the same manner. Comapring the two is tricky. Pretending the same sort of debt you got into in year zero and last year is a cheat. It’s like how Marxists call employment wage slavery, even though you get paid over mere subsistence and are free to go when you please. That’s not slavery, nor is debt servitude. Even if you can wind up in prison over debt (indirectly), contemporary debt does not lead to servitude.
There is the issue of unalienable rights, of which I touched on earlier. Some natural rights you sacrifice in exchange for civil rights; some you never can give up. You cannot, for instance, enter into a contract for perpetual slavery. Can you enter into a contract that dooms you to the sort of servitude that results from being imprisoned indirectly over $280 dollars? Libs and apparently Bible fans want to think no, because debt is bad; ancient people used and mafiosos use it to enslave people. I say surely, why not? It’s so easy to avoid jail over $280 that it’s a non-issue.
If you want to Jubilee out debt after 50 years, whatever. This woman has several decades to sweat it out, then.
“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.”
I’m not opposed to people being able to plead poverty, but you have to be there to plead it. Also, perhaps if you’re poor you should be extra careful not to get into debt in the first place. Also again, is poverty really the issue? It was more that she didn’t think the debt was hers. She might’ve been easily been able to pay it had she recognized an obligation.
Also again again, we’re talking about $280 here, not tens of thousands. There may exist people unable to pay that. Those people probably have bigger problems, like not being able to function as adults.
I’m sure he got his commission anyway but he told me that the Visa cut would be 3% of the total charged. The total was just under $20,000. I was in a position to just write a check, so that’s what I did.
He tried to get me to finance it at something like 3.9% but I hate paying interest and I hate making payments.
“Pretending the same sort of debt you got into in year zero and last year”
Pretending they are the same, I mean.
“Furthermore, if we had such a periodic reset, think how it would curb undue reliance on credit markets. Lenders would have to be planning for the reset by coming up with realistic assessments of creditworthiness and repayment plans that could actually work.”
Firstly, Keynes said that in the long run we are all dead, and 50 years is too close to life expectancy to make enough of the difference you want it to make. More frequent debt relief would certainly tighten credit, but how much? You say reliance on the credit market is undue, and it is, but some level of reliance is due. Modern civilization runs on credit; it is the economy’s oil. How much is too much? No one knows.
That’s why, instead of further centralizing the economic decisions of a ridiculously overregulated industry, perhaps the credit market should instead become a free market. You know, like everything else is supposed to be (to an extent). That way credit could represent actual savings, and demand would be tempered by how much people are actually willing to pay for it.
There is an extra commission for the car loan, beyond the commission for the car sale. You did good.
I know an ex-wife who hasn't received any child support payments for the past three years nor the demanded health insurance coverage for her 14 year old daughter. The EX actually had the guts to take her to the Friend of the Court last summer requesting a reduction in his child support as well as forgiveness for his past non payments.
The ex-husband has been out of work for all that time but yet had the money to put a down payment on his latest house.
She solicited the help of a "Family Law" attorney last summer but that was going to cost her an immediate out of pocket cost of $3,000.00.....which she did not have. The court ruled in his favor and she was stuck with having to continue to pay for her daughter's insurance.
The system sucks and people on both sides get screwed, that's just the way it is.........
That's not always the case, see my last post......
The criminal banks were not innocent bystanders that had their arms twisted by Barney Frank.
They indulged this mortgage scam with relish and gusto with the idea to rape the middle class of every dollar they owned.
The criminal banks owe Americans hundreds of billions for their criminality.
Here’s a start:
I just can’t figure out how the banks worked the scam if the individuals defaulted. The bankers didn’t hold a gun to the defaulters’ heads and force them to borrow more than they could ever repay. I also can’t figure out why the banks totally changed their approach from only loaning money to credit worthy to dumping billons on scumbags in the late ‘90s unless the government put them up to it.
I didn’t even get into parental alienation and its endorsement by our courts or the affect on the children. That’s another huge topic!
I too went through hell, with my husband, over child support, visitation etc. He didn’t see his daughter from the time she was 2 years old until she turned 18 and he contacted her. They are now so close it is unbelievable, but her mother did everything she could, including lying, fabricating addresses, schools etc to keep hubby our of his daughters life.
Today, my step-daughter is closer to her father than her own mother; so in the end everything turned out for the best. Still, it was painful for 16 years with both my husband and his daughter carrying scares from it.