Debtor’s Prison Makes Its Ugly Return

Government 'shakes down' citizens for collectors
By Emily Rauhala,  Newser User
Posted Oct 10, 2010 9:57 AM CDT
Spare some change?   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – Strongly worded letters and menacing phone calls aren't enough, it seems, to whip America's debtors into shape. Instead, the country's collection industry is turning to civil courts, using taxpayer money and government resources to pursue "low level deadbeats," finds Reason. The process pits debtors against a system that is stacked against them: "In debt collection cases, you’re basically guilty until proven innocent," writes Greg Beato.

In some cases, that means jail time for debtors. An Illinois man was sentenced to “indefinite incarceration” until he paid $300 toward a debt he owed to a lumber yard. "At a time when the federal government has spent hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out big business, it’s a travesty that state and local governments are using the full force of their power to shake down private citizens on behalf of debt collectors," Beato writes. (Click here to read why credit card debt is still a big problem.)

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