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ACLU Accuses Biloxi of Running Debtors' Prison in Lawsuit Seeking to 'Dismantle Two-Tiered System of Justice'

ACLU Accuses Biloxi of Running Debtors' Prison in Lawsuit Seeking to 'Dismantle Two-Tiered System of Justice'

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

The American Civil Liberties Union has accused Biloxi, Miss. of operating "a modern day debtors' prison," filing a lawsuit on Wednesday that charges that the city, in violation of the U.S. Constitution, jails impoverished people for unpaid fines and fees they are unable to pay.

"It's essentially a jailhouse shakedown," stated Nusrat Choudhury, an attorney with the ACLU's Racial Justice Program.


The explotation of people by criminal charges is a brine not only served in Biloxi.

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this is everywhere now. Have one of these facilities down the road from where I live, and it’s pretty much a lockup for check bouncers and other financial miscreants. The “genius” was in changing debt to “fraud”, an attempt to end run the Constitution. And so far its working.

We’ve basically criminalized everything now, so it’s exceeedingly easy to jail the poor into the new slave houses.

This country is unbelievably sick.


I certainly agree. I think there is also an element of sadism and hate for the poor and black. It seems unlikely the cost of imprisonment and courts can save money especially when the prisoner cannot work to pay the fines; of course, much imprisonment is really slavery where the prison leases out these prisoners for wages the prisoners do not see.

The USA is rapidly becoming a punitive, authoritarian, fascist feudal state with heavy handed and lawless police. We have seen this before in the USSR and 1930s and 40s Germany.

The USA has become an increasingly unpleasant and dangerous place to live unless you are in the 1% or a rich politician.


Until we have the guts to live the laws of the land, we are doomed. There are no checks and balances for corrupt law enforcement where the laws are clearly being violated. The American Government is no better off than the times of the Civil War. The times may have changed, but the basic violation of human rights remains. The lynching, is only replaced by the senseless killings by our young blacks and Hispanics at the hands of the new KKK, our “protectors” in uniform. Serve and Kill should be their motto.


Well, as someone who spent 30 days in jail for dept…it sucks. Child support, Company I worked for went under…but child support cannot be changed in the first three years in my state…doesnt matter if you were in an accident and in a coma. Anyway, ran behind and in jail. Wonderful. Ex wife tried to get me out, but the state makes money for me being in…so…no dice.

In a 60 man cell, 51 of them in for dept, mainly child support and debt. Mostly black guys, some of us white. I managed to raise the money to get out…most of those guys had been in and out for years. Lock you up, lose your job,lose your drivers license, let you out every few months…then double payments for what you owe…cant make it, back to jail, drive to your job and get caught back to jail, meter running whether you are in jail or not. Jail, out a little while, back to jail.

Cop that drove me to jail was bragging about arresting a University Professor that day in the middle of her class…for a 30 dollar traffic offense. In jail, Most were talking about fleeing the country. Yeah, debtors prison. Been there, done that.


This article does not mention it, but Abby’s article in Further points out that plaintiff Qumotria Kennedy lost her job because of being put in jail for owing money. It’s a lose-lose-lose proposition, except for the heartless and criminal profiteers.

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Yes, indeed. This country is unbelievably sick.

Thanks for posting the link. For some reason the links on the further reading section don’t work on my android device.

“Are there no prisons?” asked Scrooge.

“Plenty of prisons,” said the gentleman, laying down the pen again.

“And the Union workhouses?” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”

“They are. Still,” returned the gentleman, “I wish I could say they were not.” …

… ‘Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.’

‘If they would rather die,’ said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population."

– Charles Dickens (edited)

I regards to the poor, I have to wonder how much of this is born of absolute fear because so many people and families are one or two paychecks from being out on the street … homeless.

For additional information on this article, go to…

Here’s my hope: Not only does the court declare the action of Biloxi unconstitutional, but orders Biloxi to pay compensatory damages, putting Biloxi in the position it has put the poor. Of course, Biloxi may then declare bankruptcy in order to not pay, compounding the irony.