Thursday, May 26, 2011

debtors prison: could it happen to you?

Gothamist | Today the Wall Street Journal published a troubling article about people in debt getting arrested and jailed, just like in the olde days. Debtors' prisons were finally abolished in the U.S. in 1833, but just like pre-Prohibition cocktails and straight razor shaving, they're back in style! More than a third of all U.S. states allow borrowers who can't or won't pay to be jailed, and there are numerous examples of people getting arrested, including one woman who was collared at her mom's house because she missed a court hearing concerning the $1,159.87 in credit card debt she owed Capital One. Which got us thinking—could we be next?

We got in touch with Nasoan Sheftel-Gomes, a staff attorney at the Urban Justice Center. She reassured us that in New York State, you cannot be jailed for not paying a debt. But that doesn't stop debt collectors from threatening people with jail, regardless of the law. J. Brandon Black, the president of America's largest debt-buying firm, tells the Journal he stopped threatening borrowers with jail "because the practice made his company look bad." Sheftel-Gomes thought that was pretty rich.


umbrarchist said...

This is getting way passed pissing me off.

I saw a video not long ago saying there are 900,000,000 cars in the world.  How many of those cars were or still are bought on credit?

But it was NO CRIME for the economics profession to ignore and not talk about the depreciation of all of the garbage for the last 50 years.  But people can go to jail for being dumb enough to go into debt for the junk if they can't pay.

Lynch all of the economists.  LOL