Get ready America, debtors prisons are back, and in full swing

Americas justice system abolished debtors prison in the 1800’s, but their recent actions lead us to question the legality of the establishment. Americans are clueless to the fact that all across this country the private sector is now arresting individuals who do not pay their debts. Here and there, news stories are slowly starting to “pop-up,” but what exactly is going on? The original shocker was in Houston Texas where Militarized police arrested a man for a twenty-seven-year-old, $1500, school debt! Not one week later, and another story emerges that, yet another individual was taken into custody for a debt. This time, it is in Utah, and it is over a $2,400 medical debt. However, the man arrested in Utah died in police custody.

Debtor’s prisons, outlawed in 1833, are back. Rex Iverson, another victim, was put in the Box Elder County Jail when he didn’t pay an ambulance bill; the next day, he was dead. Iverson did not have the funds to bail out let alone the $2,376.92 to pay the medical bill for Tremonton City Ambulance service.

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“We go to great lengths to never arrest anybody on these warrants,” Elder County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dale Ward told the Ogden Standard-Examiner. “The reason we do that is we don’t want to run a debtors’ prison. There is no reason for someone to be rotting in jail on a bad debt.”

“How can you get blood out of a turnip?” Josh Daniels of the Utah-based Libertas Institute said. “The thing about going to jail, your time does not pay your debt… A person should be obliged to pay, but putting him in jail doesn’t solve the problem.”

Last fall, John Oliver blew the lid off of the corrupt system of debtors’ prisons which are supposed to be illegal but that isn’t stopping many. The Free Thought Project cites a report from last October by the Sixth Amendment Center, which says that Utah’s “justice courts” exist to monetize misery, rather than to ensure justice or any kind of due process. In Iverson’s case, there was neither.

Works Cited

Sarah K. Burris. “Utah man dies in police custody after being jailed for $2,400 unpaid medical bill.” Raw Story. . (21 Feb 2016 at 22:40 ET): . .