The Equivalent of Debtors’ Prison
Is there such a thing as a modern-day debtors’ prison? Not literally, as
debtors’ prisons were outlawed by Congress in 1833. However, a recent ACLU
report on the criminalization of private debt points out that some private debt
collectors are creating the equivalent of debtors’ prison via the courts.
The ACLU found instances of debtors being arrested for debts as small as
$28. Once incarcerated, the debtor may be stuck in jail for days trying to
arrange bail, missing work and family obligations. Jobs may be lost, and the
warrants and arrests may show up on future background checks – making it
difficult to get a new job or go back to school.
While these tactics may be technically legal, the result is often a
punishment far greater than the crime.
It’s Not Just “Deadbeats”
The ACLU report breaks the stereotype of the deadbeat willfully tr…