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New Report Details How Americans Who Have Debt Held by Collection Agencies Can Get Thrown in Jail


New Report Details How Americans Who Have Debt Held by Collection Agencies Can Get Thrown in Jail

Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Threatened with arrest for a case involving a few dollars in debt held by a collection agency?

This is not a science fiction, nor a scenario from the United States more than 185 years ago when debtors prisons were still allowed. Rather, it's a part of the current justice system where, in states across the country, state courts and local prosecutors abet debt collectors in arresting and jailing some of the tens of millions of Americans who have debt held by private collection agencies.


Due process is so-o-o-o 18th century…


It is reports like this that make me glad I support the ACLU.

Hopefully something good will come of it, but our system is pretty much just for the 1%


For perspective, the fucktard that would become “president” declared bankruptcy how many times for how many orders of magnitude in excess of these poor souls’ debt? Ain’t that America…


This is what happens when a country turns totally corrupt.


we seem to be returning to our national roots - slavery!


These people are being arrested because they are skipping court dates, judgement exams and/or not complying with court orders, Not because they owe money.

If you owe me money and I use the legal system to attempt to collect it you should absolutely be thrown in jail if you thumb your nose at the court and by extension me.


So if I’m broke with no job, no money, no property and sick with no doctor needing a course of antibiotics and go to the emergency room at a local hospital as a last resort, then get a bill for over a thousand dollars after being there for five minutes seeking a prescription which I then go to the pharmacy at the local supermarket where the prescription is free I am then subject to arrest for not having the money to pay? Ain’t America great!


‘Esteemed’ US academic, Doctor Eric Posner, has pushed for a program of indentured servitude to ‘solve’ the US immigration process because, as Doctor Posner puts it:

By exploiting the logic of the market in an area that is normally bureaucratized, we can advance equality as well as economic growth. - https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/02/13/immigration-visas-economics-216968

How long before esteemed Dr. Posner, or one of his esteemed colleagues, makes the case for formalizing debt peonage, and debtors prisons, into an industry of indentured servitude?


Did you read that these slime ball collection agencies don’t always notify the defendants. That if the defendants had legal representation agencies probably wouldn’t have a 95% conviction rate.


It’s not a crime to owe more than you can pay, so why are government resources being used to enforce collections of private debts? These are missed car payments, bounced grocery store checks, old student loans, and other small debts that have been sold to loan collection agencies. It appears that the loan collectors have been busy getting draconian debt laws passed in most of the states. I just read the ACLU report linked in the article (it isn’t long) and it documents a number of pre-dawn arrests by teams of police officers, sometimes backed up with helicopters, dogs, and other tools of repression, to handcuff and jail people who miss civil court hearings. The charge against them is invariably “contempt.” Taxpayers are funding these improper arrests and jailings, as well as the court systems needed to issue all the contempt warrants. There is an obvious reason for making these small debts criminal…class warfare.


This is why we need structural change - a monetary system connected to an undemocratic justice system connected to authoritarian governance using state tools of police/military to enforce its edicts.
In a functioning democracy, anyone who perpetrated these criminal acts (of debt punishment), whether it be politicians, judges or police would be the ones in jail for a very long time. The dominating ideology of raw capitalism will continue to create working poor by the millions, then make them suffer yet again under state sanctioned corruption. Hang the “corporations as people”.


How would you enforce that people pay their debts then. This money is legally owed.


You’re required to be notified and courts send you summons etc. Sure, there are sleazy outfits that try to get around that - there are bad actors in every industry. They have a 95% success rate because 99 times out of 100 the person legally owes the money.


Now I am someone who got 6 figures of unsecured debt discharged in Chapter 7, but most of the actions decried here don’t sound onerous; one major exception is the ability to have a court case without notifying the debtor in person (my state, Louisiana, requires such an in-person notification, and being a Hurricane Katrina diasporee at the time, it was easy for me to evade such notification for the few months I needed to “get my affairs in order”). And if in court the judge requires you to divulge financial information, you have to divulge it, and failure to do so would be contempt of court, which is punishable by jailing the debtor until he does what he is supposed to do. If you owe the money, the creditor has the right to garnish wages and put liens on lienable property; on the flip side, debtors have the right to file for bankruptcy - and yes, it would be nice for a bankruptcy to be made much more user-friendly for folks that literally don’t have a pot to p!ss in.

Oh, and I didn’t care for the comment about folks of color; this is divisive language, and the progressive movement needs to stop playing the identarian card.


The courts are enforcing the ability of the judge to get the debtor to supply financial information; if the debtor doesn’t do it, it’s contempt of court.


Hi Jim_Schmidt. Debt collection is a civil matter. Debt holders have legal options like putting a lien on property, etc., but of course private collection agencies would rather have the police just throw debtors in jail until they pay. Debtor’s prisons for people unable to pay are unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment (due process and equal protection). But now we have this new wrinkle, calling hearings and then issuing criminal contempt warrants for debtors who for whatever reason fail to appear. It’s a magic trick that turns a civil matter criminal…Presto! The only problem is that it’s unconstitutional.


Again, how else do you enforce someone’s civil rights? It’s OK to ignore a court order?


Reminds me of a joke I read that showed a Chinese family eating dinner in China and the caption read: " EAT ALL YOUR FOOD CHILDREN; REMEMBER THERE ARE PEOPLE GOING HUNGRY IN AMERICA!"


What court order? Where’s the proof of service?