Do you remember how federal imprisonment for owing a debt was outlawed in 1933? According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune this practise has been going on during the last four years all across the United States. Arrest warrants against people owing money in Minnesota has increased by 60 percent, up to 845 cases in 2009. Some of these bills owed for which people were jailed were as little as $85.
The courts have found a neat little trick for getting around the ban of such a fascist practise. Workers don’t go to jail for the debt, but for failing to respond to the legal system. This is clearly another example of government power in the service of the capitalists. The ruling class has found a new way to harass and intimidate the working class into submission. This has even been used on people who didn’t owe any money, but were mistaken for people who did.
The article details a story in which a man in Kenney Illinois was sentenced to ‘indefinite incarceration’ by a judge until he came up with 300 dollars to pay a debt to a lumber yard. The man was unable to pay after he fell from a roof and broke his back and neck. After being in jail with a broken neck and back for three hours, his wife borrowed 300 dollars on a credit card.
A woman by the name of Joy Uhlmeyer was imprisoned for defaulting on a 6,200 owed from a divorce in 2006. She was arrested on her way home from her elderly mother’s home on Easter. 16 hours after having been arrested she was fingerprinted and told why she was arrested. Apparently she missed a court ordered hearing with Resurgence Financial. The woman claims she has never heard of the company.
When asked for a statement by the Star-Tribune, the woman responded, “The really maddening part of the whole experience was the complete lack of information. I kept thinking ‘If there was a warrant out for my arrest, then why in the world wasn’t I told about it?’”
When told about the events, Robert Hobbs, deputy director of National Consumer Law Center in Boston said: “My suspicion is the debt collection industry does not want the world to know these arrests are happening, because the practice would be widely condemned”.
The report also notes that publicly-traded debt-buyers actually purchase old debts (some past the statute of limitations) and thne use the legal system to force people to pay them. Often the debt can’t be verified and the National Consumer Law Center estimates that 1 in 10 debt-buyers’ go after the wrong person.
This clear and obvious fascism, the state is the tool of the capitalist class. This is a clear and direct assault on the lives and dignity of Americans. Bankers owe billions for money poorly invested and get a free hand out by its stooges in Washington. But when regular people owe 85 dollars they go to jail. Neo-classical economists and anyone else who denies the existence class struggle are liars in the service of their masters.
On a personal note, to the police officers who have arrested people for owing as little as 85 dollars… where’s your self respect? We all know you are nothing more than tools of the ruling elite, but even you can’t deny it after these events… Oh that’s right, you were just following orders.