Return of the debtors’ prison …. huh????

Debt collectors in states including Missouri  and Alabama are using legal loopholes to lock up poor citizens who can’t pay  their debts.

Illinois’ Attorney General Lisa Madigan has  attacked the revival of the ‘debtors’ prisons’ – something most people associate  with Dickens novels.

‘Too many people have been thrown in jail  simply because they’re too poor to pay their debts,’ Madigan said. ‘We cannot allow these illegal abuses to  continue.’

Injustice: 'Too many people have been thrown in jail simply because they're too poor to pay their debts,' Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan said

Injustice: ‘Too many people have been thrown in jail  simply because they’re too poor to pay their debts,’ Illinois Attorney General  Lisa Madigan said 

The United States abolished debtors’  prisons  in the 1830s, but more than a third of states allow borrowers  who can’t or  won’t pay their debts to be jailed.

The Wall Street  Journal has flagged up an increasing  number of debt-related incarceration, with the debts ranging from bills for  health care  services to credit card and car loans.

In Missouri, the state constitution outlaws  imprisoning someone for unpaid debts.

Debtors' prison: The US abolished debtors' prisons in the 1830s, but more than a third of states allow borrowers who can't or won't pay their debts to be jailed

Debtors’ prison: The US abolished debtors’ prisons in  the 1830s, but more than a third of states allow borrowers who can’t or won’t  pay their debts to be jailed

Despite this, sly payday lenders are  putting  people behind bars by getting a judgement in civil court, which  summons them to  appear for a ‘examination’ or review of their financial  assets.

According to the St. Louis  Post-Dispatch, if they  fail to show for the examination the creditor can ask for a ‘body attachment’  which is effectively a warrant for the person’s arrest.

The police then haul them in jail where they  remain until there’s a court hearing or they pay the bond – which is usually set  at the amount of the original debt.

Illinois passed a bill in July which requires  two ‘pay and appear’ court notices to be sent before a debtor can be  arrested.

‘It is outrageous to think in this day and  age that creditors are manipulating the courts, even threatening jail time, to  extract whatever they could from people who could least afford to pay,’ Madigan  said.

‘This law corrects that gross oversight and  puts a stop to throwing people in jail for being poor while still allowing fair  debt collection when people have the means to pay their debts.’

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