Friday, April 5, 2013

The new debtor's prisons and the "they deserve it" crowd: a reality-based response.

People are not just being jailed for failing to pay court fines or tickets. A private creditor can get a judgement against a debtor in court, when the debtor cannot pay (or, as in many cases, the court is in some distant state where the creditor's company is located, and the debtor is not even aware of the court action), the court then issues a warrant for non-payment of judgement and the debtor finds themselves picked-up without any knowledge of an offense ever being committed.

On the the other hand, here's how the current "court fine" scam works, that you wannabee law and order types are all so up in arms about...a destitute person is sleeping on the sidewalk downtown. The cops, armed with an ordinance passed by the state or city, cites said destitute person (first time). Destitute person has no money, is forced to move on. Cops find said destitute person on roadside in another part of town, cites said person again (2nd time). This time, police confiscate all the homeless person's private property, using cutting it up with box cutters while throwing it into plastic garbage bags, destroying tents, tarps, boxes, backpacks, books, water jugs, blankets, sheets, pillows, or anything else they still happen to own; leaving the person not only on the street, but lacking even the few possessions they had left, and all within the "due process" that just occurred.

So, now lacking even their personal possessions, said destitute is found a few days latter, sitting aimlessly around a tree in a run-down public park next to the worst area of the city. Police cite said person again under some anti-homeless ordinance or another (3rd time), in less than a month. Around that time, the homeless person's first court appearance comes due. When they get to court, they find that they are now liable for all three citations, court costs, and processing fees: $300.00 being the minimum fine rate in the city--because smaller fines don't cover the costs of processing them--for a grand total of 300x3=900+185.00 in court fees=1085+50.00 per citation= a grand total of $1,235.00.

BTW, your highly touted "welfare" they might be getting? 185.00 bucks a month. All of which was lost when the police cut up and trashed our destitute citizen's property, including their toothbrush, comb, shaving cream, and deodorant.

So, unable to pay the fine, the person is now not only jailed for up to six months, they are also placed on probation or some similar program, and must complete that after leaving jail or be returned to jail for up to a full calendar year. Meanwhile jail is not free, and a portion of the costs are passed on to the NOW inmate, at a cost of 40 dollars a day. This is also a state "fine" which cannot be discharged, except by the presiding court.

So, let's summarize: after completing six months in jail (actually only three because there's no room in the jail), the destitute person finds themselves in debt to the criminal justice system for well over 5K dollars. Please tell me, what crime they ever committed? Oh yeah, the created offense that some city or state legislature came up with to "combat homelessness."

I wonder why the self-righteous have no worries about criminalizing being poor while the worst depression in modern American history grinds into its tenth year, showing no signs of anything but getting worse. 

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