Fascism is the union of government with private business against the People.
"To The States, or any one of them, or to any city of The States: Resist much, Obey little; Once unquestioning obedience, at once fully enslaved; Once fully enslaved, no nation, state, city, ever afterward resumes its liberty." from "Caution" by Walt Whitman

Friday, March 1, 2013

Debtor's Prisons

2012-07-03 "How Americans Are Thrown In For-Profit Jails for Debts, Then Charged for Prison Time"


“With so many towns economically strapped, there is growing pressure on the courts to bring in money rather than mete out justice.  The companies they hire are aggressive. Those arrested are not told about the right to counsel or asked whether they are indigent or offered an alternative to fines and jail. There are real constitutional issues at stake.” ~Lisa W. Borden, a partner in Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz

Debtors prisons are back.  Just think about how this works … you have these private prison companies with no motive other than profit; those private prison systems have beds to fill.  So – when average Americans who are usually living paycheck to paycheck find themselves struggling to pay for their registration sticker or get busted without having insurance … they run the risk of going to jail if they don’t pay.  Now – one could argue that breaking the law is breaking the law and if you don’t pay a traffic penalty then you’re subject to the state’s penalty including imprisonment.  Fine – I get that.
Except – that’s not what is happening.  What happens is the person who is unable to pay for their ticket or fails to show in court is charged hundreds and hundreds of dollars in fees and if the police come into contact with them … they put them in jail where they are CHARGED for the privilege of being in jail.  So – you start off with a ticket and you end up with jail time in excess of a month and you’re still left with a debt that increased by 1700%.  For profit prison systems are a HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE idea.  They will hurt hundreds of thousands of Americans and steal whatever notion of liberty and freedom that we still have left in this country.  You can read about private prison systems HERE [http://www.classwarfareexists.com/krugman-privatized-prisons/].
“Who says we’ve lost our manufacturing economy? We still manufacture prisoners better than any other country in the world. “ ~Patricia, Pasadena, CA

The NY Times explains HERE [http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/03/us/probation-fees-multiply-as-companies-profit.html?_r=1]:
[begin excerpt]
Three years ago, Gina Ray, who is now 31 and unemployed, was fined $179 for speeding. She failed to show up at court (she says the ticket bore the wrong date), so her license was revoked.
When she was next pulled over, she was, of course, driving without a license. By then her fees added up to more than $1,500. Unable to pay, she was handed over to a private probation company and jailed — charged an additional fee for each day behind bars.
For that driving offense, Ms. Ray has been locked up three times for a total of 40 days and owes $3,170, much of it to the probation company.
[end excerpt]

A report by the ACLU in 2010 shows example after example like that HERE [http://www.aclu.org/files/assets/InForAPenny_web.pdf#page=82]; how do you read this and not just LOSE IT.
[begin excerpt]
Reuben is a 24-year-old young man of Pacific Islander descent who has been in Washington State juvenile and Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities since he was twelve years old. At age sixteen, the juvenile court in Pierce County declined jurisdiction over him and he was prosecuted and sentenced in the adult prison system for assault, robbery, and possession of stolen property. On the night before his eighteenth birthday he was transferred from special housing in DOC into the general adult prison population to serve the remainder of his sentence.
At his sentencing hearing in Pierce County in 2002, Reuben was given 185 months of incarceration time and a monetary sanction of $950 (not including restitution). As a result of the twelve percent interest penalty, Reuben’s LFO debt was just under $6,000 at the time of his interview. Reuben is still under the supervision of DOC and is serving the last four months of his sentence in a work release program. While in prison, Reuben received $40 per month from DOC, which was deposited into his personal account, of which 5% was automatically garnished to make payments towards his LFOs. The $2 deduction was significant to him, since Reuben had to use this monthly stipend to purchase a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo, deodorant, mailing supplies, and supplemental food (like “Ramen” and “processed meat”).
Interviewer: So, all this stuff, it would total $40 a month?
Reuben: No, it would total more than that. That’s even hygiene itself manages you around 20 bucks, ‘cause you know people want to stock up for the whole month. About 20, and then 20 will be used for other things like using the mail system, you know buying pre-stamped envelopes. So that itself is about 15 bucks, sending out legal mail and all that. And so 40 dollars will get used up pretty fast.
In addition to his LFO debt—including paying towards the costs of incarceration and supervision once released281—Reuben was well aware of other costs associated with his DOC status. While on work release, Reuben generally works thirty hours a week while making $10.50 per hour. However, the county work release system charges him $13.50 per day to be in the program. Thus, his expected gross pay for the four months of work is $7,200, but off the top he will pay the work release program approximately $1,080 to be in the program. Furthermore, once he is released, he will be required to make a monthly payment toward the cost of his DOC supervision and incarceration.
[end excerpt]
They also write in their report … essentially these fees are the new tax on society’s poorest:
[begin excerpt]
Imprisoning those who fail to pay fines and court costs is a relatively recent and growing phenomenon: States and counties, hard-pressed to find revenue to shore up failing budgets, see a ready source of funds in defendants who can be assessed LFOs that must be repaid on pain of imprisonment, and have grown more aggressive in their collection efforts. Courts nationwide have assessed LFOs in ways that clearly reflect their increasing reliance on funding from some of the poorest defendants who appear before them. For example, courts in rural Michigan counties are more aggressive in assessing and collecting court costs and defender fees—which go directly into county coffers—than fines, which are deposited into a statewide fund. Because many court and criminal justice systems are inadequately funded, judges view LFOs as a critical revenue stream.
[end excerpt]
CBS News has this HERE [http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505123_162-43551981/welcome-to-debtors-prison-whats-in-your-wallet-can-land-you-in-jail/]:
[begin excerpt]
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.
Some states also apply “poverty penalties,” including late fees, payment plan fees, and interest when people are unable to pay all their debts at once, according to a report by the New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice. Alabama charges a 30 percent collection fee, for instance, while Florida allows private debt collectors to add a 40 percent surcharge on the original debt. Some Florida counties also use so-called collection courts, where debtors can be jailed but have no right to a public defender.
[end excerpt]

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