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To Prison for Poverty Press

Debtor's Prison: A New Reality?

By Steve1960 for DailyKos

Making the case that American capitalism oppresses the white middle class was a tough sell back when I was a wee lad. For one thing, the thirty five percent of the American workforce that belonged to a union (and most of the rest who experienced the obvious "knock on effect" of a union scale wage) would strongly disagree. Today the story is much different. Such looming threats to the US middle class as predatory lending, union busting, changes in the bankruptcy laws that favor creditors, higher regressive local taxation and the shipping of jobs overseas all pale in comparison to the one only beginning to rear its ugly head: debtors prison!  In all honesty, people aren't actually sent to prison specifically for unpaid debts. But more and more are being sent for "violating a court order" to pay or for simply failure to appear in court when being sued for debt repayment. A report by popular radio show host, Thom Hartmann contained these harrowing lines;

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Preying on the Poor: For-Profit Probation Edition

By Sarah Solon for ACLU 

Welcome to Alabama, the state of the never-ending seat belt ticket. Hali Wood is 17. She's applied to work at several grocery stores in her home town of Columbiana, but none are hiring. A few months back, cops ticketed Hali for not wearing a seat belt. The fine: $41. Hali has paid $41 and then some, but she's still hundreds of dollars in debt. Why? Because the court contracts with JCS, a for-profit probation company that forces Hali to choose between paying their exorbitant fees and going to jail.

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Modern-Day Debtors’ Prison? Judges Push Back Against the South’s Privatization Wave

By Daniel Ross for AlterNet

Kathleen Hucks was almost a model probationer. In 2006 she was convicted of driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, and driving with a suspended license in Columbia County, Georgia. She successfully completed her probation and paid all of her court-issued fines.

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Imprisoned For Being Too Poor to Pay a Fine?

By George Lavender for In These Times

Debtors' prisons were formally abolished in the United States in 1833. Before then if a defendant couldn't pay their court fees or fines, that is where they would end up. A century and a half later, in Bearden v Georgia, the Supreme Court ruled that judges cannot send people to prison for failure to pay fines without finding out their ability to pay.

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A Modern-Day Debtors' Prison? Judges Push Back Against the South's Privatization Wave

This story was originally published in YES! Magazine. Republished by Truthout.org

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Kathleen Hucks was almost a model parolee.

In 2006 she was convicted of driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, and driving with a suspended license in Columbia County, Alabama. She successfully completed her probation and paid all of her court-issued fines.

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A Modern-Day Debtors' Prison? Judges Push Back Against the South's Privatization Wave

This article originally appears in Yes! Magazine. By Daniel Ross for Nation of Change

Kathleen Hucks was almost a model parolee.

In 2006 she was convicted of driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, and driving with a suspended license in Columbia County, Alabama. She successfully completed her probation and paid all of her court-issued fines.

Read more

A Modern-Day Debtors' Prison? Judges Push Back Against the South's Privatization Wave

By Daniel Ross for YES! Magazine

Kathleen Hucks was almost a model parolee.

In 2006 she was convicted of driving under the influence, possession of marijuana, and driving with a suspended license in Columbia County, Alabama. She successfully completed her probation and paid all of her court-issued fines.

Read more

New Film Decries The Return of Debtors Prisons

By Saki Knafo for Huffington Post



Over the past decade, towns and counties across the United States have been locking up a growing number of people for failing to pay their debts. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Brennan Center for Justice documented the practice in 2010, and Human Rights Watch released the results of its own investigation earlier this year.

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