War on the Poor: Jeff Sessions Rescinds Legal Doc That Ended Debtors’ Prisons

By Rachel Blevins

In addition to his “War on Cannabis,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions recently revealed that he is also in favor of a “War on Poverty,” when he rescinded a legal guidance document that was meant to end illegal debtors’ prisons.

While debtors’ prisons are labeled as institutions to keep people from failing to pay fines and debts, they have been used to take advantage of impoverished, low-income individuals. A simple traffic ticket can turn into months in prison, which results in even greater fines. As defined by the American Civil Liberties Union:

Nearly two centuries ago, the United States formally abolished the incarceration of people who failed to pay off debts. Yet, recent years have witnessed the rise of modern-day debtors’ prisons—the arrest and jailing of poor people for failure to pay legal debts they can never hope to afford, through criminal justice procedures that violate their most basic rights.

The legal guidance rescinded by Sessions was one that was implemented by the Department of Justice in 2016. It states that courts are required to follow constitutional principles and to prohibit the imprisonment of poor individuals because they cannot pay court fines and fees.

Sessions rescinded the March 2016 “Dear Colleague Letter on Enforcement of Fines and Fees” last week, along with 25 other legal documents dating back to 1975. In a statement, he claimed that he was “ending 25 examples of improper or unnecessary guidance documents” that had been identified by a DOJ task force:

Last month, I ended the longstanding abuse of issuing rules by simply publishing a letter or posting a web page. Congress has provided for a regulatory process in statute, and we are going to follow it. This is good government and prevents confusing the public with improper and wrong advice. Therefore, any guidance that is outdated, used to circumvent the regulatory process, or that improperly goes beyond what is provided for in statutes or regulation should not be given effect. That is why today, we are ending 25 examples of improper or unnecessary guidance documents identified by our Regulatory Reform Task Force led by our Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand.  We will continue to look for other examples to rescind, and we will uphold the rule of law.

The guidance was originally put in place after a series of reports and lawsuits from the ACLU revealed that state and local courts were increasingly offsetting budget deficits by charging additional fees for “public defenders, prosecutors, court administration, jail operation and probation supervision,” and that the courts were using “aggressive tactics to collect these unpaid fines and fees, including for traffic offenses and other low-level offenses.”

As a result, the courts were then jailing people who fell behind on their payments, without holding a hearing to determine if the individual was able to pay the fines, or offering alternatives such as community service.

The ACLU argued that because the courts were imprisoning an individual based on the fact that he or she could not pay court-imposed fines or fees, the court was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees due process and equal protection under the law.

In one case, a man undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer in Sherwood, Arkansas, spent 90 days in jail and ended up owing a court more than $3,000 after he wrote a series of bad checks for small amounts ranging from $5 to $41, and his medical condition prevented him from earning money to pay for the fines associated with the checks.

Another case involved a veteran battling homelessness in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who spent 22 days in jail because he showed up to court with $25 out of the $50 the judge wanted him to pay as the first installment for the $2,600 he owed in restitution, fines and court fees after he was found intoxicated, on the roof of a building.

Ultimately, the only ones who benefit from debtors’ prisons are the prisons themselves, and the people who suffer are the ones who find themselves facing jail time on top of the inflated fees and fines they already cannot afford to pay.

Rachel Blevins is a Texas-based journalist who aspires to break the left/right paradigm in media and politics by pursuing truth and questioning existing narratives. Follow Rachel on FacebookTwitter and YouTube. This article first appeared at The Free Thought Project.


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36 Comments on "War on the Poor: Jeff Sessions Rescinds Legal Doc That Ended Debtors’ Prisons"

  1. and then there’s civil asset forfeiture – a.k.a., criminal theft by the armed thieves of “law enforcement” (an oxymoron if ever there was one)

  2. Grace by Faith | December 30, 2017 at 5:49 pm | Reply

    This is a “Dear Colleague Letter”. These are guidelines, suggestions, legal guidance, not law or even UCC admiralty code, so it’s entirely unenforceable – for now. He’s just telling congress what he wants, the sick bastage. They want it too, so it will happen, and not just for money owed to the courts, but for unpaid cable bills, defaulted rent, and the like. And because this was given to media, this is disclosure so they can “cremate their care” (guilt) and then have plausible deniability when they say, “Hey, we warned you and you did nothing = consent.” We are still under British authority, which is under UN authority, so it will come here eventually because all UN nations’ legal systems operate under the UN’s UCC Commercial Code law (Uniform – meaning universal, a term according to Rome that is interchangeable with Roman Catholic), which means we’ll all have the same commerce laws to follow apart from those which refer only to location.

  3. Debtors Prisons DEFINE a country. All the humanitarian Culturally Marxist equalitarianism that the political class supposedly live by is exposed a total fraud. A lie.
    People talk human kindness in order to steal power that they should NEVER be allowed.
    The political class serve the predatory, parasitic moneylenders.

    They are TRAITORS to the ordinary folk who elect them and whose taxes furnish their privileged lifestyle.
    All this should be obvious.

    • Predatory, parasitic, money lenders can be abbreviated to the word, Pharisees. They are the very same ones mentioned in the Christian book of Holiness. Greed is an idea that fuels servitude of Mammon, an idol even you do not follow the Christian version of God or Christ. I capitalize here as I think the two are titles as in occupational titles. Besides that, I do sincerely respect others thinking and believing differently. That’s why Christians call me a heretic, I have a differing opinion. 🙂

      The shame of it is that Greed is an idea. Ideas cannot be killed by bullets, swords, garrets, knives, poisons. Would I that they could be.

      In case not clear I do agree with what you’re saying.

      • Agree the ones Christ warned the Jews (and humanity) about are the very ones to whom you refer…. as 2000 years ago the Pharissees (Sanhedrin) and the moneylenders are a team.

        • Knew that from recalling some of my Mennonite upbringing as a young boy. Grew up and was in line to become a full Brother in the faith of the Mennonite. Unfortunately, I served in the U.S. Navy and therefore broke covenant vow to Him. This meant I was still welcomed to attend social functions of the Mennonites, could say I attended Mennonite church if I continued doing so. I would never be a Mennonite though.

          Now, later in life I’ve concluded that being an apathetic agnostic suits me. Do I think He exists? I can only be honest for myself and say I don’t know. I don’t care that I don’t know, nor do I care to know. In my humbled opinion, which to any faith of one called G*d makes me a heretic, I think if there was such an entity it does not care of us any more. I think it’s like my mom who taught me living from young on up, how she did it. “Here son is the forests, the wilds, now you go and learn to live. I’m going on, if I see you later so much the better, if not well I’m sorry but life happens.”

          Having a view like this grounds me with an Eastern perspective. It is one that asks, “why do I need saved and from what?” Then, too I’ve read Dialog Between a Dying Man and a Priest by someone many deemed insane. It presents the argument of Nature having it’s own way of providence. I write this to you not to be confrontational nor to belittle your views or beliefs. I genuinely and sincerely do respect them. Merely I’m writing this in a manner of hoping to foster further understanding. Not everyone believes alike. I think at times this is a blessing, it helps us all see better.

    • Just because we get to vote for our rulers don’t mean they are not are kings and queens.What difference does it make how they gain power over the folks?

  4. How does somebody get so goddamn twisted? Seriously.

    You have to wonder about the genetics involved.

  5. Rumplestiltskin | December 31, 2017 at 8:43 am | Reply

    And that my friends will be how they use the FEMA CAMPS.

  6. Sessions dishonors America. Debtor prisons were part of the cause of the American Revolution because the British courts, judges, legal system, convicted people just to keep their For Profit prisons filled. SHAME . the old fool brings this garbage back instead of fighting it.

  7. fake news….the fair debt collection act of 1974 has debtors prision covered….you cant write bad checks and call it “debt” u idiot…thats theft….stupid mindless article

    • Debt to a commercial entity is covered but these courts are claiming that by not paying certain fines you are actually breaking the law and are therefore subject to criminal action.
      NOT FAKE NEWS

      • you are conflating fines which are punishment in leu of jail for debt like a loan or credit card….that is fake news

  8. To students who went into debt for stupid majors: You borrowed the money now pay it back.

  9. He is one of the long time swamp dwellers, honestly the only way to drain the swamp is a scorched earth policy and kill anything that moves in there

  10. Bring it a-holes. Bring it.

  11. yes, amerika. Keep mocking the Libertarians…….. keep feeding the elephants and jackAsses.

  12. Sessions doesn’t even get how evil he is. He sees himself as the hero in this dark comedy of justice. He would be pitiable if he wasn’t causing so many people such pain. It would be a blessing for the country if Trump were to fire him, and replace him with, say, Ron Paul.

    • Kathryn Marts Smith | January 1, 2018 at 9:54 pm | Reply

      Yes, Ron Paul, a true libertarian! Just think what a awesome president, he would of been over obama, only if they had awoke back then and voted for him!

  13. Alleged-Comment | December 31, 2017 at 2:01 pm | Reply

    Picking on small people again. The helpless, the old, the sick….. So brave.

  14. Cannabis, natures cure for so many things,and this dumb sob stomps all over it. He is either stupid or the drug companies gave him a billion in his off shore account.

    • Kathryn Marts Smith | January 1, 2018 at 9:56 pm | Reply

      He is part of the problem! I’m hoping trump is just allowing him to entrap himself with the the other swamp things!

    • AG JEFF SESSIONS’ blatant VIOLATION of the 10TH AMENDMENT’s states’
      rights is ILLEGAL & UNconstitutional — His intent to ENFORCE FEDERAL LAWS against marijuana IN SPITE of STATE’S LEGALIZING MARIJUANA is TOTALLY ILLEGAL AND UNCONSTITUTIONAL —— SATANIC, ORGANIZED CRIME BIG PHARMA IS BEHIND THIS ATROCITY.

      I hope that the courts overthrow this VIOLATION OF THE TENTH AMENDMENT’S STATES’ RIGHTS over the federal government. The courts and juries (jury nullification) can declare this blatant VIOLATION of the rights of the states as Unconstitutional. Maybe this issue will awaken the public of their rights of jury nullification. It is high time that the public awakens to the tyranny of the federal Deep State, Shadow Government ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE! Google: tenthamendment.com
      ****** DRAIN the Satanic, Deep State, Shadow Government, Power-Elite FEDERAL SWAMP!
      _________________________________________________
      Just another example of how the American
      people are being lied to on a massive scale. jeffy sessions is a prosecutor of
      fake ” laws” of our corporate defacto, illegitimate and deeply flawed
      so called government. i understand more and more every day why a large group of
      baboons is called a congress. Not fair to the baboons i know. Why doe’s our so
      called government lie so much? just for example at: 28 USC 3002(15) our
      wonderful fecal gov. congress defined “united states” to mean “a
      federal corporation” . So our “government” is corporate,
      registered in the state of new hampshire as a private for profit pile of lies.
      Just how these jackasses think they have all this “power” over the
      people (men) of these united states of america when every thing they say out of
      their lying mouths is a lie. FRAUD vitiates every thing. Oh i almost forgot:
      the lowest form of life on the planet is a prosecutor.

      I’m beginning to
      understand why sessions wouldn’t indict clinton.

      He’s a believer in the
      immunity of the washington elite and the above the law status of same. We’re just
      the serfs, he’s the elite class.

      ************** As Attorney General Sessions fills these
      private prisons, he is making money. According to his latest financial
      disclosures required by congress, dated December 23, 2016, he divested of other
      investments that were found to be in conflict. In these disclosures, he also
      lists numerous Vanguard funds. Vanguard owns more private prison stock than any
      other investment management company. None of the Vanguard funds listed below
      were included in the divestiture.

      The latest data of
      Vanguard funds’ portfolio information is dated February 28, 2017. The following
      are a list of funds owned by Jeff Sessions that was from Vanguard’s website:

      Vanguard Total Stock
      Market Index Admiral Shares – consists of both GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc.
      stocks worth over $164,000,000. Sessions investment value is from $15,001 –
      $50,000.

      Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Admiral Shares – same fund as above, but
      Sessions lists investment value between $1,001 – $15,000.

      Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares – consisits of stocks from The GEO
      Group and CoreCivic, Inc. valued at over $173,500,000. Sessions shows
      investments valued from $15,000 – $50,000.

      Vanguard Total International Stock Index Admiral Shares – contains GEO Holdings
      Corporation stock valued at over $4,400,000. Sessions owns $1,001 – $15,000 of
      this fund.

      If he still owns these
      funds, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making policy that he will financially
      profit from. This blatant lack of morals and ethics shows once again how
      Sessions is not fit to be the U.S. Attorney General.
      _________________________________________
      Thank you for your
      expose’ on Sessions financial interests! I hope all who read this will copy and
      share your comment.
      ________________________________________
      If Sessions is going to
      reverse the decisions of these states, I recommend he pull off a trial
      reversal…beginning with Washington DC. After the riots, he can then decide if
      he wants to mess with the other states. States rights? I did not know
      Washington DC had become a state. When did that happen?
      ____________________________________
      install burglar systems
      to prevent government THIEVES!!!

      millions can be made off these idiot cops, buy and use the burglar systems like
      DROP CAGES,PIT FALLS,there are thousands of great systems that are far beyond
      their skills.
      __________________________________
      RESISTANCE is working for
      hillary proves RESISTANCE WORKS! LOOKIE NO WALL!!!!

      time for somebody here to
      get the Whitehouse petition going demanding Trump fire the dweeb
      __________________________________________
      yes In order not to be deformed ,be
      informed. With the CBD and the THC compounds in Marijuana, marijuana has
      already shown its healing strength. Cannabis is very effective for the
      treatment of Cancer,Glaucoma,Cachexi(wasting
      syndrome),Pain,Nausea,Seizures,Muscle spasms,Multiple sclerosis,etc. Interested
      in Medical Marijuana too for the above reason or others,

      We are available to
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      Call or Text Phone
      Number; +1 (678) 881-7363
      ____________________________________________
      I am not worried. Sessions will face too
      much of a backlash if he actually tries to follow through on enforcing this
      relic policy which will lead to his resignation/firing (FINALLY!). And this
      will cause Congress to pass a law officially legalizing it to prevent another
      moron from coming in and trying to do the same thing. Hey, maybe the FDA will
      actually get their heads out of their arses too and start acknowledging the
      thousands upon thousands of studies proving that it does have medical benefit.

    • Google: tenthamendmentcenter.com — The state’s rights take precedent over federal law. Sessions is in clear and blatant VIOLATION of the 10th amendment in the Bill of Rights. I hope that the marijuana issue awakens the public to their state’s rights. I hope that the courts overthrow Sessions’ ILLEGAL VIOLATION of the 10th amendment. The courts and JURY NULLIFICATION can set things in order. People must be educated on their power of JURY NULLIFICATION of UNconstitutional laws.

      Maybe this marijuana issue will awaken the public of their rights of jury nullification. It is high time that the public awakens to the tyranny of the federal Deep State, Shadow Government ENEMIES OF THE PEOPLE! DRAIN the Satanic, POWER-ELITE Federal SWAMP!

      ·

  15. GoodToHateEvil | December 31, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Reply

    Apparently nearly everyone posting here is up to their ears in debt.

    “Hooray, everything is free! Borrow money for that new caddy and never pay a dime. Uncle Sam lends you taxpayer hard earned money for your ‘higher education’ (usually on how white devils oppress poor innocent blacks) – never pay it back, never get a job, never go to jail, make more babies with more women ’cause, hey, that’s free too! You’d think I’d love this country what with all the freebies, but I don’t. I hate my white oppressors who keep me down by giving me everything I could ever want.”

    • It not only affects blacks, it does even affect and effect whites. I’ve worked since the age of five until about the age of forty three. I could not keep pushing myself, lots of various different little physical stuff began coming due. I also started in with P.T.S.D. simply from having lived hard and fast, dealt with a lot of different abuse, even some self neglect. The sort here what got out and lay down 160% so his mates would not need to work so hard. Lucky to see 80% most days now. To me that’s disabled but to our lovely Uncle, I get a big “go f- yourself” and not in the polite sense. Hell, I even volunteered to serve and did serve a little. I wanted 20-40 years in service, or so I thought so long ago.

      I’ve seen the light and smelled the coffee. Me and wife are living in a HUD apartment now. We’re hoping a year or two to get help from the agriculture dept, get a fixed mortgage for a small homestead in deep rural WV/ Yes, I can farm, or at least recall enough of the basics to do so. If it’s for us and not really much else, we’ll manage, I’ll manage. But f- that time card junk, I’m in no shape for it, physically, mentally, spiritually. I was all star pro, but now I’m just run down Joe, you get me?

      I rather not take freebies. At the same time I know too I’ve paid dues out. My family has as well as my wife’s family. Not cheating anyone here, I’m just using what help is allegedly supposed to be there for a fellow/lady when they need. It’s not all blacks and it’s not all shysters either. I do see the point you’re making and appreciate it. Thanks.

  16. Law and medicine are two aspects of our society where ignorance destroys families and kills people, yet people routinely turn over their lives to total strangers.

    All attorneys are “officers of the Court”; here’s their loyalty relationship with their clients:

    1st. Loyalty – Bar Association
    2nd. Loyalty – the Courts
    3rd. Loyalty – clients

    If Sessions wants to restore the Rule of Law in this country, he should return the Courts to the Common law jurisdiction that requires an actual victim and damages. As opposed to the municipal code system fraudulently replacing same.

    There are many things you can do to stop a lot of their color of law theft. Enter a WRITTEN challenge to jurisdiction before appearance insisting upon a common law jurisdiction. (Every State except Louisiana is a common law State.) In any case where your accuser is a corporate “State of______, County of_______, or City of__________”, demand your accuser appear in court. Since you must swear to any testimony you give, demand, in accordance with your State’s Constitution, that your Judge enter his Oath of Office into the Record, and swears to abide by same. Any other jurisdiction proposed by the Judge will require a contract with a municipal corporation specific to the charges. Any Rights violated by said contract (ie. Drivers license) must be spelled out and agreed to beforehand or they are not valid.

    Refuse to sign ANY document you disagree with, and feel free to mark out and initial anything you don’t agree too. It’s a good idea to have front and back cameras in your vehicle with a cloud uplink to preserve evidence.

    The best defense is refuse to cooperate in any matter where your cooperation is necessary for it to move forward. Not talking about resisting arrest; to many of our police forces are sociopaths who entered that service to abuse people, and will shoot you for looking at them funny or the ever popular “contempt of cop”. Look on YouTube and you’ll see that witnesses don’t matter, and cops will shoot and make up stories after to justify it. If it wasn’t for cell phone cameras, a lot of these judicial murders would never come to light.

  17. Revenue based law enforcement.

  18. ·

    As Attorney General Sessions fills these private prisons, he is making money. According to his latest financial disclosures required by congress, dated December 23, 2016, he divested of other
    investments that were found to be in conflict. In these disclosures, he also
    lists numerous Vanguard funds. Vanguard owns more private prison stock than any
    other investment management company. None of the Vanguard funds listed below
    were included in the divestiture.

    The latest data of Vanguard funds’ portfolio information is dated February 28, 2017. The following
    are a list of funds owned by Jeff Sessions that was from Vanguard’s website:

    Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Admiral Shares – consists of both GEO Group and CoreCivic, Inc.
    stocks worth over $164,000,000. Sessions investment value is from $15,001 –
    $50,000.

    Vanguard Total Stock Market Index Admiral Shares – same fund as above, but
    Sessions lists investment value between $1,001 – $15,000.

    Vanguard Small-Cap Index Fund Admiral Shares – consisits of stocks from The GEO
    Group and CoreCivic, Inc. valued at over $173,500,000. Sessions shows
    investments valued from $15,000 – $50,000.

    Vanguard Total International Stock Index Admiral Shares – contains GEO Holdings
    Corporation stock valued at over $4,400,000. Sessions owns $1,001 – $15,000 of
    this fund.

    If he still owns these
    funds, Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making policy that he will financially
    profit from. This blatant lack of morals and ethics shows once again how
    Sessions is not fit to be the U.S. Attorney General.
    _________________________________________________
    Thank you for your
    expose’ on Sessions financial interests! I hope all who read this will copy and
    share your comment.

  19. We already have debtor’s prisons in America. It’s called the federal reserve system and fractional banking.

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