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DEBTOR’S PRISON is Back in AMERICA


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DEBTOR’S PRISON is Back in AMERICA

 

 

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Robin Ebersohl closes her eyes as she recalls the experience of being arrested in Macoupin County and jailed for four days over

an outstanding debt owed for medical bills she could not pay. (AP Photo / The Telegraph, John Badman)

 

I just saw an article yesterday about Mississippi and it is so misleading, but nonetheless, very eye opening. The article highlighted a woman named Annita Husband but stated that Mississippi has had a Debtor Prison system for years now and alludes to a falsity in that this would be the only state in USA. But, this is so not true. The comments after the article were extremely numerous and most of the commenters applauded the system for debtors’ prison. But after I read some more articles, I realized that Debtor’s prison occurs in many states and has been for years now. Also, unlike Ms. Husband’s story, people can be arrested and jailed for many reasons. Mostly all of the articles I have read too, say that the most victims are Black people, but still, this fate has happened to many Americans and for various debts.

 

 

Debtors prison: It’s back and it’s here

By Jim Gallagher

Jan 15, 2012

 

 

Robin Ebersohl knew she had a loud muffler. She couldn’t afford to get it fixed. When she saw a police car, she though she’d

chance it and drive by. It was a mistake bigger than she could have imagined. She thought she might get a ticket. Instead,

she got three days in jail and her father lost $500 in bail money.

https://www.stltoday.com/business/local/debtors-prison-it-s-back-and-it-s-here/article_4683672a-3be5-11e1-a381-001a4bcf6878.html

 

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This woman was put in jail in Illinois until she came up with bail money that her father sent from his pension. Then they applied this money to her debt. She never knew about the warrant for her arrest and so, most people are arrested and find out about this kind of debt warrant if they are stopped for a simple traffic violation or etc.

 

________________________________________________________________

 

 

Prosecutors and Judges Have Brought Back Debtors Prisons

A new report details how easily you can be put in jail simply for owing a company money.

By David Dayen

FEBRUARY 22, 2018

 

… over 1,000 cases in 26 states where judges dutifully issued the arrest warrants for failure to appear. In four states

where they could receive full data (Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, and Utah), the ACLU found 8,500

arrest warrants in debt-collection cases. The warrants cover every kind of debt: medical bills, student loans,

rent payments, homeowners’ association fees, utility bills, repairs, payday loans, gym fees, you name it.

The amounts involved in the warrants were as low as $28. …

https://www.thenation.com/article/prosecutors-and-judges-have-brought-back-debtors-prisons/

 

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This articles also explains that people can sit in jail for weeks, all for not paying a bill and if they get a bail, then it goes directly to the debt-collection agency. It also said that some people jailed actually didn’t owe the debt or it had been paid off. One Texas man just got out of open heart surgery but was jailed due to his college loan.

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Think Debtors Prisons are a Thing of the Past

Not in Mississippi

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Annita Husband entered the restitution center in 2015, six years after pleading guilty to embezzlement, because she struggled to make monthly

payments on her $13,000 court debt. She feared she would spend years at the center trying to pay it off.

 ERIC J. SHELTON/MISSISSIPPI TODAY, REPORT FOR AMERICA

 

JACKSON, Miss. –During her shifts at a Church’s Chicken, Annita Husband

looked like the other employees. She wore the same blue and red polo shirt,

greeted the same customers and slung the same fried chicken and biscuits.

 

But after clocking out, Husband, a mother in her 40s, had to wait for a white van

with barred windows and the seal of the Mississippi Department of Corrections

on its sides. It delivered her to the Flowood Restitution Center, a motel converted

into a jail surrounded by razor wire, …

https://www.themarshallproject.org/2020/01/09/think-debtors-prisons-are-a-thing-of-the-past-not-in-mississippi

 

This article goes on to explain that she embezzled money from her job when she saw her truck being repossessed and prior to that, she was jailed for writing bad checks. She worked and cared for three children and a sick husband who died years later. In this article were other stories too, like this woman:

 

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September 2018, Dixie D’Angelo worked four different restaurant jobs trying to pay down over

$5,000 she owed for damaging a friend’s car. She said she struggled with depression and anxiety

and got no treatment for her alcoholism. “I was in a really, really dark place,” she said.

 ERIC J. SHELTON/MISSISSIPPI TODAY, REPORT FOR AMERICA

 

 

After hearing about this and reading about this for a few months, I don’t feel so good. Strangely so, too, I remember thinking about this years back when Obama was running for his first term. I remember seeing all of these store closings and around the same time, I remember seeing the city surveying and laying down pipelines a long the county and I was thinking, something is wrong with our economy. I remember feeling that ‘they’ were going to go after its’ own citizens. I remember how many people were walking into Black low-income subsidized communities and rounding people up to vote and seeing them standing at strip malls with clipboards approaching people to vote and walking up to peoples’ houses and saying that Obama was for women’s rights and etc. And, I felt that we were in for a strange change.

 

 

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I read the Nation's article and was outraged, but not surprised. 

 

Some damning quotes;

  • Jared Kushner’s real-estate business obtained arrest warrants for 105 former tenants since 2013, resulting in 22 debtors’ going to jail. Hundreds of these arrest warrants can be rubber-stamped by judges in a single day.

You already know the complexion of those thrown in jail...

 

  • And of course these are traditionally the most vulnerable members of society, disproportionately black and brown, bearing the brunt of this perversion of the law. The impact doesn’t just include a couple weeks in jail but lost wages, potential lost employment, scrambles for childcare, the burden of a criminal record, and the psychological stress and humiliation of being locked up for being poor.

Corporations are literally trying to bring back slavery and our government is perfectly complicit... like the last time.

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On 1/12/2020 at 4:03 PM, Troy said:

Corporations are literally trying to bring back slavery and our government is perfectly complicit... like the last time.

 

I was born after some of the stories that revolve around this subject, so I did not eve think it would return. America tricked me and caused me to think

that those times were over, but WOW, now I realize that we are back at this again.

 

NOw, I am thinking about the stories I heard about people going into the old fashion grocery/hardware stores and having accounts, and then owing

on their accounts. The store owners/clerks would have some type of book where they would mark people for how much they owe.

 

I am no thinking about how Black people were actually lynched for owing money to these stores and not being able to buy anything because they were told they

owed too much!!! 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Two years ago I was working with a law firm that took the case of a black woman imprisoned in Texas for debt (credit cards). The Eighth Amendment clearly states that cruel and unusual punishment includes "excessive bail" and "excessive fines." It essentially means you cannot go to jail over debt. I pulled some old state-level precedent in Texas affirming this position while writing her habeas corpus brief. She was released from jail after three months. We then sued the debt collector and the Harris County Sheriff's Office. The case settled out of court. Granted we strategically got the cases in front of sympathetic judges. So this won't work everywhere despite the law being pretty clear about debt and prison.

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On 1/22/2020 at 9:02 AM, Kareem said:

Granted we strategically got the cases in front of sympathetic judges. So this won't work everywhere despite the law being pretty clear about debt and prison.

 

@Kareem Yes, so this is the problem! So many times, I see where the law is completely circumvented just to oppress people, especailly Black Americans. 

Thank you for sharing this information though. 

I did not know that about the 8th Amendment. 

And then, another issue that really bothers me about this story and so many others is that, she had to spend time being imprisoned. Just that kind

of process is enough to destroy a person even if they are proven innocent. 

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