Friday, April 05, 2013

Criminalizing Poverty: Debtor's Prison For the 99%.

Today, it was reported that the unemployment rate declined even as those not in the labor force grew by over 660,000 to 90 million.  However, the real unemployment rate is 23%. if you include, "estimated long-term discouraged workers, who were defined out of official existence in 1994," and "short-term discouraged and other marginally-attached workers as well as those forced to work part-time because they cannot find full-time employment."

No jobs, stagnant wages, soaring food prices, soaring food stamps, millions of underwater home owners and millions of homes in shadow inventory, etc., but, despite all this "the economic recovery is on track" according to the mainstream news. The simple truth is the dream of a new home, a new car, secure retirement and nice vacations is just that, a dream. The new more attainable dream is a frugal lifestyle demanding sacrifice and hardships, simply to ensure survival, that is, without ending up in debtor's prison,.

No, this isn't 1830. It's 2013, and thousands of Americans are sent to jail because they can't afford to pay their bills.  That's right, courts and judges in states across the U.S. are incarcerating people for not being able to pay debts such as traffic tickets, medical bills and court fees.

At the same time that the economy worsens, and poverty increases, the financial and legal penalties for being poor in America are only getting worse. Apparently, people are supposed to earn money despite the fact that jobs were shipped overseas decades ago to ensure corporate profits by the same sadistic class of people who plundered the wealth of the people. Well, they need a scapegoat, and who better than those who cannot protect themselves: the poor. Meanwhile, the plundering class is squirreling away trillions in offshore accounts.

Federal imprisonment for unpaid debt has been illegal in the U.S. since 1833. But it is legal in one-third of the states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and Washington. However, it doesn't really seem to matter if it's legal or not; Ohio's not listed, yet, "several courts in Ohio are illegally jailing people because they are too poor to pay their debts and often deny defendants a hearing to determine if they're financially capable of paying what they owe, according to an investigation released Thursday by the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union."

Links:

Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA)

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