It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.
Please white-list or disable AboveTopSecret.com in your ad-blocking tool.
Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.
More and more people around the country are getting sent to debtors’ prisons, but exactly how does it happen? According to National Public Radio, companies that people owe money usually sell off the debt to a collection agency, which in turn “files a lawsuit against the debtor requiring a court appearance. A notice to appear in court is supposed to be given to the debtor. If they fail to show up, a warrant is issued for their arrest.”
In some cases, judges “don't even know debtors' rights, which could result in the debtor being intimidated into a pay agreement,” making an already bad situation worse. News coverage about the rise of debtors’ prisons has been picking up steam, especially in regards to judges imprisoning people for their debts.
In 2000, The New York Times reported that a small town judge in Arizona was accused in a lawsuit of having “turned the local jail into a debtors' prison, repeatedly jailing poor laborers who were unable to settle debts with local property owners.” In 2009, CBS reported that a judge in southern Indiana threatened one Herman Button, who owed $1,800 to a former landlord but had no income beyond Social Security, with contempt and imprisonment if he didn’t pay.
The decision to imprison debtors can also come from judges needing money. In this case, judges were pressured to collect on fines and fees lest they find themselves receiving fewer operating funds for their courts. And in 2010, The Times reported that an Alabama circuit judge said openly that his state legislature “was pressuring courts to produce revenue, and that some legislators even believed courts should be financially self-sufficient.“ In order to have a better chance of extracting the needed money, judges may have threatened people with imprisonment.