“Debtors’ Prison Is Back — and Just as Cruel as Ever”
According to a report inThe Wall Street Journal,debt collectors in Missouri, Illinois, Alabama and other states are using a legal loophole to justify jailing poor citizens who legitimately cannot pay their debts.
Here’s how clever payday lenders work the system in Missouri — where, it should be noted, jailing someone for unpaid debts is illegal under the state constitution.
First, explains St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the creditor gets a judgment in civil court that a debtor hasn’t paid a sum that he owes. Then, the debtor is summoned to court for an “examination”: a review of their financial assets.
If the debtor fails to show up for the examination — as often happens in such cases — the creditor can ask for a “body attachment” — essentially, a warrant for the debtor’s arrest. At that point, the police can haul the debtor in and jail them until there’s a court hearing, or until they pay the bond. No coincidence, the bond is usually set at the amount of the original debt.
The U.S. government is TRILLIONS of dollars in debt. I don’t see them getting their assess hauled off to jail.