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Is Debtor’s Prison a Real Thing?

debtor's prison

 

Debtor’s prison – a place where those who can’t afford their financial liabilities go to rot away – may seem like something out of a gloomy Charles Dickins novel, but increasingly civil liberties groups and prisons reform advocates are arguing these antiquated places of incarceration are returning in a new form. Are they, though? Is debtor’s prison a real thing?

What Is Debtor’s Prison?

Debtor’s prison is an archaic form of punishment for those who cannot afford to pay their financial obligations. Those who couldn’t pay their debts were locked up in a harsh jail, where they were not only liable to repay their debt to be released but also required to pay the costs of their incarceration. The catch? These prisons didn’t allow prisoners to work off their debts, only to rely on family, friends, or miraculous acts to front the money. The end result was that many rotted away and died in these dingy places. The United States abolished debtor’s prisons in 1833, yet they seem to be on the rise again – all thanks to a private prison system and a desire for local municipalities to supplement their funding.

 

debtor's prison america

 

Modern Debtor’s Prison

While debtor’s prisons remain illegal, you wouldn’t know it if you looked at the way the modern legal system functions. All too regularly, state and local courts are beginning to charge fees to those who are convicted of crimes. These fees include charges for the use of public defenders, jail operations and feeding costs, costs for the operation and administration of the courts, and so forth.

While on the surface these fees seem understandable – after all, the legal system costs money and money doesn’t grow on trees – the harsh reality is that many of those arrested cannot afford to repay these debts, and as a result are incarcerated for contempt of court. This means that thousands of low-level criminals remain behind bars for failing to pay fines and fees without as much as a hearing to determine their ability to actually pay.

In this situation, there are definite winners and losers. The losers are of course those who find themselves incarcerated for fines they could never have afforded in the first place. The winners? The private prison system that can count on larger government funding to meet the needs of this ever-increasing prison population. This broken system has raised the ire of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) who have been championing the cause of those who fall victim to this vicious cycle of fees and incarceration.

 

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Contact Engage IQ Today to Learn About Debt Repayment Options

If you’re looking for the best way to pay off debt, Your Consumer Services can help you. We offer loan counseling through our one-on-one chat. There is no upfront cost for clients. You can connect with a live person from a non-profit willing to provide you with further information on your loan repayment options. as well as reduce your debt or monthly payments. You can also email us. Our debt specialists are waiting to hear from you and can answer any questions you may have. So, if you’re ready to get a break from crippling monthly payments – let’s do this!

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