Debtors’ Prison Legal In More Than One-Third Of U.S. States

Debtors Prison no longer an injustice
from the past — Wiki image

Jillian Berman
Huffington Post

Not paying off debts can eventually land you in jail — at least in a sizable minority of U.S. states.

Borrowers who can’t or don’t pay their debts can be sent to jail in more than one-third of states, the Wall Street Journal reports. Judges may issue a warrant when a borrower either misses court ordered payments or doesn’t show up in court after being sued for payments on outstanding debt. Though there are no national statistics on the practice of jailing debtors, a WSJ analysis found that judges have issued more than 5,000 debt-related warrants since the beginning of 2010.

As high joblessness, slow wage growth and plummeting home values push more Americans into debt, the aftermath of the recession also makes it increasingly difficult for consumers to pay it back, and the collectors of that debt are getting more aggressive as a result.

Some states are attempting to rein in the practice of putting borrowers in jail, even as the number of borrowers threatened with arrest has surged since the financial crisis, according to a separate WSJ report. Washington state’s House of Representatives voted unanamously in March to require debt collection companies to provide proof that borrowers had been notified about lawsuits before judges could issue an arrest warrant.

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Our Future In Chains: The For-Profit Debtors’ Prison System


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