The MODERN DAY “DEBTORS’ PRISONS” … A Modern Day Reality to Turn One’s Stomach

I used to wonder why debtors’ prisons existed historically because it did not make sense to me to imprison people who could not pay their debts when having them work off debts made the most sense, but then I was just educated by this article why debtors’ prisons were created and still exist. I should have known better. Of course, they were and still are devised to keep prisons in need so they would/will be funded for the “work” they do.

Here’s how it works. Police and courts turn jails into money-makers through subsidies and grants they receive for fining, then jailing poor people (the same ones over and over again who can’t get ahead because of poverty and then the subsequent incarcerations) because they can’t pay their fines … fines levied without consideration of why they were fined in the first place, amounts not in consideration of what they could pay, and without allowing them to work off the fine.

Here’s an excerpt from the linked New York Times article by Matthew Shaer as an example …

In early December 2017, the S.P.L.C. and the MacArthur Justice Center filed their lawsuit against Corinth. That same month, the city ordered the jail emptied of all inmates incarcerated for nonpayment of fines. “There was no explanation,” says Brian Howell, one of the lawsuit’s plaintiffs, who was then incarcerated, sitting out $1,250 in fines and court costs for three unpaid traffic tickets. “It was just, ‘All right, get up and go.’ ”

Howell is 29, with watery blue eyes and freckled cheeks. Years ago, he was struck by a drunken driver while riding his motorcycle; he lost one leg and suffered extensive nerve and spinal damage. It is hard for him to walk, let alone play with his three children, without the aid of crutches. But the guards at the jail wouldn’t lend him a pair. Nor would they give him a ride home. The best they would offer was a lift across the street, to the gas station. From there, Howell began scooting on his buttocks along the side of the road, using his hands to haul himself forward. Soon his forearms were sore, his fingertips bloody. A police cruiser pulled up alongside him. “The guy looks over, and he just busts out laughing,” Howell recalled last spring. Howell is extremely soft-spoken, and when he told me what the cop said to him, I was certain I’d misheard. He repeated it more loudly: “He said, ‘Hell, I thought you was a damn dog.’

As I shook Ross’s hand, I was reminded of the taxonomy of municipal judges that Sam Brooke of the S.P.L.C. had laid out for me. “I’d split them into camps,” Brooke said. “The first are the ones that respect the law. The second are the vindictive ones, who see every defendant as a bad person in need of punishment. But the biggest group are judges who are part of the retail industry of processing a whole lot of people. They’re just doing what the judges before them did.”

Also reminds of the disrespectful, though legal way credit card companies issue credit cards to people, especially youth, in order to generate high profits based on high interest rates … at great costs to the people they encourage to buy what they cannot afford before passing on the uncollected high-interest debts to one of the most legally abusive companies and processes still allowed in modern times and countries.

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Connecting The Dots With The Respect Principle

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January 9, 2019







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