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Thread: Jailed for $280: The Return of Debtors' Prisons

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    Senior Member HK in AK's Avatar
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    Default Jailed for $280: The Return of Debtors' Prisons

    makes me wonder.......isolated incident or something to look forward to....I can just see all the college student sitting in prison because they can't pay their student loans.


    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.
    Link to full story: http://finance.yahoo.com/news/jailed...--prisons.html

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    How's that Hopey Changey thing workin'? C.Puffs's Avatar
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    One thing that I always wondered about with debtor's prisons was, if you're in prison, how are you ever suppose to earn the money to pay back the debt? And who pays to support your stay there? Sounds like it'd be almost impossible to earn your way out once you're in there.

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    to me the important difference is are these people being jailed because they were fined for a criminal charge and didnt pay (ie, they got a DWI, were fined $5,000 and didnt pay the fine) or is it a matter of them owing a credit card company money. If its the first one, i have no problem with it...if its the second one, i have all sorts of problems with it.

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    Senior Member Dominique's Avatar
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    If you read the article, it explains that they're not locked up for failure to pay the debt but for "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.". So in other words, if you don't show up in court, don't pay your fine, or basically blow off the judge, you're going to jail.

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    The member that no one remembers. IconOfEvi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by C.Puffs View Post
    One thing that I always wondered about with debtor's prisons was, if you're in prison, how are you ever suppose to earn the money to pay back the debt? And who pays to support your stay there? Sounds like it'd be almost impossible to earn your way out once you're in there.
    Ive actually wondered how that worked too

    Of course, back then, prison was not so bad in terms of what came out when you came out

    Now? Whoever you send in there is probably going to come back again...either intentionally or unintentionally

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    Senior Member Dominique's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by IconOfEvi View Post
    Of course, back then, prison was not so bad in terms of what came out when you came out
    Seriously? You really don't know the history of prisons.

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    Waywickedcool Federal Ninja Laconian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dominique View Post
    If you read the article, it explains that they're not locked up for failure to pay the debt but for "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.". So in other words, if you don't show up in court, don't pay your fine, or basically blow off the judge, you're going to jail.
    But, Dom, it's easier to write a snappy headline that points a finger at some evil corporation and the "unfair" persecution of simple folk for the evil money than to headline a story with, "woman misses multiple court dates arrested for contempt of court and failure to appear."

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    Senior Member LineDoggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dominique View Post
    If you read the article, it explains that they're not locked up for failure to pay the debt but for "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.". So in other words, if you don't show up in court, don't pay your fine, or basically blow off the judge, you're going to jail.
    Good point, headline was written by Chicken Little...

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    Μολὼν λαβέ Hollis's Avatar
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    The article does not make sense;

    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.
    The there is this statement:


    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.
    How do they get a court order for FTA without filing suit? If a person is served with a subpena, they best show up. Not wise to piss off the judge.

    Something is wrong with this picture. Also, at least in Oregon, all one has to do is go talk/retain a bankruptcy lawyer, all the collection BS stops.

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    Senior Member HK in AK's Avatar
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    Contempt of Court is not a normal course of action..............If you fail to appear at a hearing, it has been my experience the judge issues a default judgment, not a contempt of court order. A contempt of court action is ridiculous for a $280 debt; for that amount of money it is typically a small claims matter and wrapped in about a 30 minute hearing. Failure to appear is reserved for higher threshold crimes.

    @Dom, Laconian, and Linedoggie, you should all know this....take off your blinders.

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    Senior Member HK in AK's Avatar
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    Once you get a default judgment, the next thing you do is execute the judgment through bank sweeps or wage garnishments. This is not rocket science. The idea of throwing someone in jail is beyond ridiculous.

    If bank sweeps and wage garnishments are not enough, you can force a bankruptcy filing for liquidation of the debtor's assets to pay the debt. You can file impoundment notices to the IRS for any tax refunds...I could go on, but the fact is the contempt of court order is a remedy that seems to be more to intimidate people than any other reason.

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    Μολὼν λαβέ Hollis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HK in AK View Post
    Contempt of Court is not a normal course of action..............If you fail to appear at a hearing, it has been my experience the judge issues a default judgment, not a contempt of court order. A contempt of court action is ridiculous for a $280 debt; for that amount of money it is typically a small claims matter and wrapped in about a 30 minute hearing. Failure to appear is reserved for higher threshold crimes.

    @Dom, Laconian, and Linedoggie, you should all know this....take off your blinders.
    The article just mentioned the actions not how they where obtained. The it said the collectors do not file suit. Bill collection is a civil action. The article does not seem to say how it becomes criminal.

    CoC, can be, a guys shows up and tells the judge what to do with the subpena. I am guessing. You are right, a no show is a default. FTA could be a by-product of the defendant conduct in court. Another guess.

    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.
    This seems to contradict the statement on not filing a law suit. There has to more to this, then we are being told.

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    Μολὼν λαβέ Hollis's Avatar
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    I found it, they are mixing 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.

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    Tom Waits is my Batsignal ronnieraygun's Avatar
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    Here is a slightly better article from the WSJ:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203710704577052373900992432.html?mod=wsj_share_tweet


    Herrin, IL = southern Illinois mucho meth

    Also, she claims the bill was sent in error. I've dealt with more medical bills in the past 2 months than some of you may in a lifetime and I have seen about 3-4 mistakes sent to me. It can and does happen.

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    Senior Member HK in AK's Avatar
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    Let's see, the cost of running a courtroom is about $5,000 an hour, when you add the costs together (wages, facilities, operations, etc.) so the court charges $251, but the cost to tax payers was probably with the hearings and other actions the full $5,000. No wonder states and counties are going bankrupt.

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