Monday, March 30, 2015

Debtors Prison WTF~

I read these two articles yesterday with my teeth gritting. It seems that the corporate world no longer just want your house, your car  and your blood, sweat and tears, no, no,  they now want to put people in debtors prisons with common criminals. They want to lock up honest people who have done nothing wrong but but fail to pay their mortgages and car payments and credit cards because they are laid off and can't find a job in what even the President of the United States has said is the worse economy since the Great Depression. This is an outrage!
(Originally posted by Scanner on Open Salon, March 28, 2011, more details below)

This is what AIG of all companies, did to a man in Indiana

 In September 2009, Jeffrey Stearns, a concrete-company owner, answered a knock at the door from a Hancock County, Ind., deputy sheriff. The deputy was holding a warrant to arrest Mr. Stearns for not paying $4,024.88 owed to a unit of American International Group Inc. on a loan for his pickup truck.

After being handcuffed in front of his four children, Mr. Stearns, 29 years old, spent two nights in jail, where he said he was strip-searched and sprayed for lice. Court records show he was released after agreeing to pay $1,500 to the loan company. "I didn't even know I was being sued," he said, though he doesn't dispute owing the money. "It's the scariest thing that ever happened to me."

They are now in the process of training new judges in Florida in the proper way to jail people who cannot pay their debts. "Before we take a person's freedom away, we want to make sure there are procedural safegaurds" a state judge in Palm Beach County, Fla is quoted as saying. So now, not only are the prisons so overcrowed that there are lines of people waiting to get in, non-violent people, but we are going to put citizens in jail for owing a few hundred dollars on their credit cards. That are behind on a couple of house payments.
This country spent billions bailing out these same companies that now want to lock up debtors.  How many of these scumbags went to jail for bankrupting their companies? Not only did they they not get locked up, they were sent away with "golden parachutes" worth millions and millions of dollars that our tax dollars paid for. Now, we have to lock up law-abiding citizens for doing something that is minute compared to these very companies. If President Obama and his Justice Department let this happen, then he is as guilty as any one of those bastards. 

Wall Street Journal:

More than a third of all U.S. states allow borrowers who can't or won't pay to be jailed. Judges have signed off on more than 5,000 such warrants since the start of 2010 in nine counties with a total population of 13.6 million people,
In 1833 the Federal Government did away with debtors prisons. States soon followed. In the United States, it is now unconstitutional to put someone in jail for not paying a legal debt. I know when I lost my house, my credit went in the crapper for the next seven years. I can't buy a pencil on credit and I agree, I shouldn't be able to. Just because my wife and I were unable to work, these companies deserve their money. They took my house, why should I now have to go to prison. I put thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours labor into my house.They seem to think a person is trying to screw them and this is just wrong.
It also looks kind of funny that Corrections Corporations of America, or CCA, the weasels that run a lot of the prisons in this country, are up to their necks in this. The building and the running of private prisons is now at an all time high and they are cramming people in jails already full to make more money. This company has over 60 prisons with over 90,000 beds and business is good, very good. This is the company that had to settle lawsuits for improper care and letting people die. For a fucking credit card bill. WTF~
More than a third of the states right now are letting this happen, with prison and corporate lobbyists in every state capital pushing for more. You cannot get blood out of a turnip, no matter how hard you squeeze. How does a person pay a debt back while they are in jail;. How do they get a job when they get out with a prison record. This my friends is going on right under our noses, yet we do nothing. We are letting these corporations get away with murder, literally, by locking up honest citizens who cannot pay their bills because there are no jobs.
There is something incredibly evil underneath all of this. I am not saying that it's a good thing to walk away from debt, but it seems to me that in a time when people are barely clinging to the barest of necessities, when unemployment rages on without an end in sight and unemployment benefits are being cut by states, and when the banksters got off with not so much as a slap on the wrist and most of our savings, it's a really, really bad time to be throwing people in jail for an unpaid credit card which was probably issued with usury interest rates and fees that exceed the credit limit (which triggers yet more fees).

                                                A Live Weasel Talking

(For more information on Blog see Blog description and table of context for most older posts.)

The following are the original replies when this was first posted on Open Salon.

The taxpayers bailed out AIG--and others. And the taxpayers support and feed prisoners. With more and more taxpayers out of jobs, not paying taxes..not paying debts..not bailing anyone all goes to a circle heading quickly down the drain

Satori1 March 28, 2011 09:28 AM

Doesn;t make sense does it?

If you are in how are you going to make money so they will let you out?

rated with hugs

Linda Seccaspina March 28, 2011 09:49 AM

Scanner, you and I could be sharing a cell soon. I want the top bunk!

David McClain March 28, 2011 10:02 AM

The guy in the video is talking nonsense. Bankruptcy has never been a taint for any business large or small. It's always been an "exit" strategy, that's precisely what it was designed for, it's smart business. Businesses get to write off bad debts when people don't pay and that reduces their profits and tax burden. They should be grateful to get the tax breaks instead of whining when they get what they asked for.

Putting people in jail means they can't continue to buy stuff from businesses and that will only increase their tax burden. These people are simply not intelligent and they'll succumb to Darwin eventually. CCA was behind the anti-immigration furor and they're just adding another group which is more smart business. Cannibalism among corporations is part of their nature.

Speaking from a moral standpoint, which they aren't capable of understanding, it's just plain wrong. Either way, it's not sustainable, we may have to get into another war to distract everyone. The inmates are drunk in the asylum. Thanks for a great post, I had no idea debtors prison was revived.

l'Heure Bleue March 28, 2011 10:05 AM

Satori1, AIG> Just saying that makes me want to puke. Yet they are locking people up.

Linda, I had to go to Wikipedia to even find out there were debtors prisons at one time. I guess it's now time for the big comeback!

Tor, you can have the top bunk, I'm afraid of heights. (and big guys named Bruno)

Bleue, if the Justis Department doesn't take this on and nip it in the bud, then Obama and his crew need to be shown the door!

scanner March 28, 2011 10:18 AM

I'd go to jail tomorrow if I'm afforded the same inprisonment as Uncle Madoff. ;)

Kidding aside.

When white collar crimes are prosecuted with the same vigor as those are re blue collar crimes, there will be more criminals than there are noncriminals.

Belinda T. March 28, 2011 10:22 AM

Dickensian, alright. Pure Evil. r.

Jonathan Wolfman March 28, 2011 10:23 AM

They're training for The Great Roundup.

Matt Paust March 28, 2011 10:23 AM

next they'll be putting the mentally ill in cellars and pay you one dollar a day...we have returned to the 17th century

Lyn LeJeune March 28, 2011 10:26 AM

It is being done to create fear.

Leepin Larry March 28, 2011 10:45 AM

I had no idea this was happening! Thanks for bringing this to my attention.


Susie Lindau March 28, 2011 10:48 AM

They are brewing the conditions that foment rebellions. Do they really think that popular uprisings can't happen here? No, we haven't reached that point yet...but we are going in that direction. Personally, no, I don't believe that lenders deserve their pounds of flesh...not when they are charging usurious rates and foreclosing on needy families. With 13% of the housing units in the United States VACANT we need to ask the question:

Where did all those people go?

sagemerlin March 28, 2011 11:06 AM

Belinda, are you kidding, the tennis courts there are in terrible shape.

Jon, it's just more proof that we are now run by corporations. Maybe we always have, but at least it wasn't so obvious.

Matt, 1/3 of the states and counting!

Elijah, isn't this the reason we had a revolution to start with?

Fett, the old dudes with the powered wigs now have $100 haircuts and think they are Gods!

Larry, exactly. But you can't fear any money out of my wallet. It's been crying the blues for a long time!

Susie, I didn't either. This to me is just so wrong.

Sage, we are now renters. We drive old clunkers and pay cash for everything. I wish I had always done this. It's freeing in a strange sort of way.

scanner March 28, 2011 11:16 AM Free room and board!!

Seriously it didn’t work before and it won’t work again; the only question is how much damage will they insist on doing before they learn the same lesson all over again? They will only make the deficit higher paying for the people in prison.

The last time I tried to beat blood out of a rock I thought I was succeeding until I realized it was my blood; the rock apparently didn’t have any.

zacherydtaylor March 28, 2011 11:22 AM

This is a lot of investigative research?, Scanner- and very informative for me. You know, I've come to tune off anyone who starts by saying "The fact of the matter is.." They are just not trustworthy to me. Good work, my friend.


FusunA March 28, 2011 11:27 AM

Well, if they want me, I ain't hard to find. Funny, over 2,000 bankers did time over the S & L debacle in the eighties. As far as I know, not a single Wall Street creep has even been arrested in what is a far worse drain on the people and the country. The too big to fail are now bigger than ever, while the little guy gets left holding the bag of s#*t. Our government is a calamity of errors with no end in sight.

Michael Rodgers March 28, 2011 11:33 AM

Where else could a system based on greed and self-interest, alone, end up? I suspect nobody is really surprised by this.

Rick Lucke March 28, 2011 11:44 AM

Yikes! I remember someone going to jail because they had a pile of unpaid parking tickets. Jail as big business. The power is scary.

zanelle March 28, 2011 11:56 AM

Jesus, I had no idea this is happening. So are all the execs from the banks who were bailed out going to jail? No, because they stole enough money to get away with it. Default on some loans or credit cards for a few thousand bucks, go to jail. Rob the nation of billions, retire early! Up is down and down is up.

This is why it's so important to pay attention and vote for decent candidates. This is why it's important to keep posting!

Maureen Andrade March 28, 2011 11:57 AM

I commented here once but it didn't show - anyway. I think you hit it on the head with the CCA - there is a lot of easy money to be made with government contracts - and with crime at an all time low criminals to house in these new facilities have to be found somewhere - why not the already down and out, right? Great topic to be shedding light on. Thanks. R

LammChops March 28, 2011 12:26 PM

I feel like I went to bed one night a woke up in the 18th century!


L in the Southeast March 28, 2011 12:33 PM

This sort of thing doesn't surprise me. It scares me, as it should everyone, but I'm definitely not surprised.

Duane Gundrum March 28, 2011 12:34 PM

That's the Catch-22 for normal people. If the ones that caused this mess were to be arrested you would also have to arrest the entire political system which would include elected judges. Banks own payday loan companies that screw the poor even more. Our system is so corrupt it is almost in disarray over anything. They in charge like it that way. We in turn by voting and paying taxes perpetuate our own misery. Great post Scanner........o/e r}++++++

older/exasperated March 28, 2011 12:50 PM

like others, I had no idea either. Man. thank you for bringing this out. Rated.

Michelle Coulter March 28, 2011 12:55 PM

Wonderful, isn't it?

~PFFFFFT~ People wonder why I want to become a terrorist.

Sheesh........try working in the system, and they'll eat ya up and spit it out!!!!!

Tinkerertink69 March 28, 2011 01:04 PM

Thank you for the heads up. I do find that there has been a shift into the land of Draconian implementation of law and punitive damage to working people with no prosecution of the wealthy who use this as a money generating opportunity. There is no economic justice until we change this skewed system. I'm so angry over this article I could spit. We bail out the rich banks, give tax cuts to those who truly don't need them and then send to prison those workers who aren't trying to scam the system, the system has scammed them. Ach this is such a mess.

GiWimpthinker March 28, 2011 01:07 PM

An outrage, isn't it? The Saturday New York Times featured another example--Countrywide suing and succeeding in having a debtor jailed for a year for following its advice and lying on a loan form.

Leon Freilich March 28, 2011 01:09 PM

This is really f*** scary.

...and you make a great point about sweat equity invested when they take a house, where's that calculation entered??? I understand debt needing re-paying, but as you say, debtor's prison is NOT the answer, there's a reason it was outlawed so long ago...

Just Thinking... March 28, 2011 01:11 PM

I think a lot of it gets down to the individual debt collectors crossing the line, similar with problems with IRS agents in the past.

So many issues here, including the right to sign a contract you cannot understand and the right to borrow money you cannot pay. None of the predatory lenders have been punished. There used to be a cap on interest, then it was called usury, at something like 18%, and that has been deregulated for a while. To our utter horror.

The best way to stay out of trouble is to want as little as possible, purchase only things you can pay for in cash, and not sign contracts for things you cannot guarantee to pay. Unemployment a whole other issue. As to debt reform, there are a lot of gamblers and stinkers out there who ruined it for the lot of us less than wealthy. I have known one or two. I still pay my debts even when I am told I may not have to.

Oryoki Bowl March 28, 2011 01:23 PM

Outrageous. Perpetrated by many who cling to the cloaks of religiosity but clearly have no use for their fellow man. Evil, yes...Lezlie is right...but I would go even further back in history. Great post, Scanner. R

A Persistent Muse March 28, 2011 01:57 PM

Everything I have seen about this over the last week or so has been tertiary sources; someone writes someone wrote someone wrote something happened.

The WSJ always shows up in the chian. Hard to accept the WSJ is a Murdoch rag.

I haven't dug very deep into this either. Probably would want to find primary source evidence before taking to an underground existance.

another steve s March 28, 2011 02:08 PM

My uncle went to debtors prison. My aunt was pregnant. Her child was born with Downs. She fed her two other kids over herself. Sad, sad. R

Sheba Marx March 28, 2011 02:22 PM

As Charles Dickens railed, via Ebenezer Scrooge, "Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?". And the answer is still, sadly, "Yes, lots."

Jeanette DeMain March 28, 2011 02:26 PM

This is sickening...xox

Robin Sneed March 28, 2011 02:34 PM

I don't call Republicans conservatives anymore. I call them regressives. Great post, Scanner.

Sarah Cavanaugh March 28, 2011 03:45 PM

WTF indeed!

We bail out those lamprey parasites and they have the gall to arrest a man in front of his KIDS when he was obviously not aware of their action!?!?!? Where's the knock on the door and the friendly "let's work this out" convo?

Linda Treiber March 28, 2011 03:55 PM

"How does a person pay a debt back while they are in jail;. How do they get a job when they get out with a prison record."

Here in Florida you don't! There are thousands of people in Florida jails who will never get out of jail. Why? Because they don't have the money to pay for their incarceration. Yes, in Florida you pay for each day you spend in jail. Can't come up with the money, you stay in jail. How do you think they keep the roads clean and the ditches dug? It's all done with prison labor, paying off this debt! And now the rethuglican legislature just passed a law that allows people to pay them off, to get laws passed. This was in yesterdays St Pete Times. Evidently they are using the cockamamie story, that it allows them to be more " transparent". Only in fucking Florida!

Kenny1948 March 28, 2011 04:04 PM

stop whining. people who vote for politicians must learn to live with the consequences.

tbf, americans were enslaved in 1787, in perpetuity, by the constitution. great grand dad did it to you, and lincoln didn't fix it.

democracy is possible, the swiss seem to have stumbled into it, but america hasn't got it. looks like they're too dumb to even want it. look around you, it's not just debtor's prison, there's star chambers too, and war at the king's direction.

anyway, find yourself a local grandee and kiss his ass daily. the only job that's in demand is 'lackey.'

al loomis March 28, 2011 05:11 PM

Wow, I remember when they only threw you in jail for not paying your child support.

noah tawls March 28, 2011 06:30 PM

Excellent and disturbing point and I think besides your good post, Belinda's comment says it all.

marytkelly March 28, 2011 07:30 PM

They think the jails are crowded now, just wait! Where in the hell is this kind of thinking coming from?

SheilaTGTG55 March 28, 2011 07:38 PM

Debtor's prisons are archaic. I cannot believe they are going to start these again. But, what to do they control the media. We are locked into a two party presidential election that does not make much sense because it does not represent all of the people of America. Plus, there is not way for the average American to run for most elections with the amount of money it takes to run a campaign. This is truly a sad moment in the times of the United States of America. They send their jobs over seas. They take their houses and cars. Then they put them in prison and take them away from their family. It is just horrible.

Kimberly Rooney March 28, 2011 10:12 PM

I hadn't heard of this Scanner. Unreal. This is beyond words.

Kathy Knechtges March 28, 2011 11:19 PM

I predict
riots in the streets
if not
Thanks for your
excellent reporting and analysis
rated with love

RomanticPoetess March 29, 2011 12:56 AM

Yep, this is where we are heading my dear friend; What a country. R

Thoth March 29, 2011 12:57 AM

When did this country start moving backward? When'll it stop?
Keep after the hard right bastards, Scanner.

Leon Freilich March 29, 2011 12:21 PM

A collective WTF is definitely in order here! These guys crash the economy, take away jobs for people to be able to pay their bills, and then get to go after those who can't find means to pay their bills? Well, business for the prisons will be significant because I know many who can't do that right now. Sparking March 29, 2011 09:38 PM

Oh my God is this really happening? and now that Colombia is copying everything U.S. does that means soon here they are going to put us in jail for not being able to pay our debts.. which means... I´m going to jail... Sweet Lord.. I just hope I don´t get to share the cell with a crazy sexmaniac or what is worst with a crazy trasnvesty with a pair of scissors... I´m doomed... Im going to be a crazy´s bitch... I can´t be someone´s bitch... this is so wrong.. sooo fucking wrong.. I am a good person and I do not deserve to be sent to the wolfs to be torn to pieces.... oh but one thing I know for sure.. if they send me to jail just wait until I get out I will hunt them down and kill them with my own hands... you just watch and see me do it...

Mauricio Betancourt March 30, 2011 12:11 AM

This is really scary. Thank you for telling us about it.

I asked my lawyer recently if the IRS could jail me, he said no way, debtors prisons were outlawed.

But, after 18 years as an independant contractor, followed by 3 as an employee, I was then laid off. Now, I've been audited for the two years I was on unemployment.

The IRS determined I owe them $12,600 since my debt was reduced by a mortgage modification. WTF?

I bought a house said by the bank to be worth far more than I paid in 2007. I never had a credit card or even a car loan before that, because I did not like paying interest or having debt. So I paid for the house partly in cash. Four months later it was worth half of what I paid, so there went my $100,000. Today, it is worth less than I owe on my mortgage.

Unemployment was about 1/4 of my pay. I went to court to get a modification so I didn't lose the house and thus my life savings. The bank reduced my debt by about $90,00 over the life of my loan (instead of paying back quadruple, I pay back triple), and increased my mortgage from 30 years to 40 years.

Now, I got a certified letter from the IRS saying they audited me, and because my debt was reduced, I owe them $12,600 for 2008 & 2009.

My unemployment ran out last summer, and I am borrowing money each month to stay in my house. I owe friends about $10,000 and they can't keep floating me. I have no retirement, no savings, no equity, no nothing. I was much better off as a renter, which I did for 25 years before I bought. My accountant talked me into buying, he said I'd save on taxes. (My taxes were near 40% because I had no debt, no mortgage, no kids, no spouse...yet somehow everything I made was spent on the cost of living. I have not even had a vacation in 20 years, and my car is 17 years old!)

I was worried I'd lose everything, but after reading this I don't know where it will all end.

Indra Sena April 01, 2011 04:15 PM

Sarati Smith, I wouldn't give your troubles to a monkey on a rock. But, it will get better. I lost my house and car two years ago. I fought a law firm for 6 months by myself. I couldn't afford a lawyer. Finally, after another continuance for them to find some paperwork they lied about, I let it go. I got off the grid. I am in debt and will stay in debt for seven years, but I could care less. I sleep now because I let it go. I rented me a house in the country. bought me a decent ride off of craigslist for $800.00 and I don't have a worry. Just remember my friend, they can't eat you!!

scanner April 01, 2011 04:34 PM

Hey Scanner, thanks! Your story made me smile because I often think: well, if they take everything I'll be free, claim bankruptcy, and live in an RV, maybe on a beach (I live up in the mountains now).

I'll write all day, and read all night. I'll be free from obligations. I can do seven years debt, as long as I'm outdoors in nature.

I have been reading Song of the Open Road, for inspiration...

Indra Sena April 01, 2011 09:28 PM

I got an email about this- did you sign the petition?

Hayley Rose April 02, 2011 02:56 PM

Hayley Rose, no, but I would love to. If you have the link, it would be mush appreciated. Thanks!

scanner April 02, 2011 04:22 PM

Hi Scanner! I found it! I wanted to post it w my origninal comment but couldn't find it anywhere, pass it on :)

Hayley Rose April 02, 2011 07:55 PM

Originally posted at Debtors Prison WTF~ although it won't be available there much longer it can be confirmed by those who have access to Google archives or other archives.

Kenneth Sibbett posted under the user name, Scanner and was one of the most popular people on Open Salon. It will be a loss for his work not to be available to the public along with a lot of other good articles that are coming down soon. This is one of my favorites of his and I hate to see to go, even if I can't attract the attention to it that he did. Hope he's doing well.

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