SPLC: Debtors’ Prison in the United States

Since the 1970s, the Supreme Court has been clear that it’s unconstitutional to jail people simply because they can’t afford to pay fines and fees.
But in states across the country that’s exactly what cash-strapped municipalities are doing.

Diane Ravitch's blog

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that people in some states areimprisoned because they can’t afford to pay fees and fines. The U.S. Supreme Court already ruled that this practice is unconstitutional. It continues.

SPLC writes:

The people incarcerated in Corinth, Mississippi, have a phrase for it: “sitting it out.” We have another name for it: “debtors’ prison.”

Since the 1970s, the Supreme Court has been clear that it’s unconstitutional to jail people simply because they can’t afford to pay fines and fees.

But in states across the South — and across the country — that’s exactly what cash-strapped municipalities are doing.

Take Glenn Chastain. He owed $1,200 to the city of Corinth for expired vehicle tags. Because he missed a hearing, he was denied the chance to pay a partial fine. He spent 48 days in jail.

Jamie Tillman, without a lawyer, admitted to a public intoxication charge punishable by a…

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6 thoughts on “SPLC: Debtors’ Prison in the United States

  1. I went to the original article and what I read damn near drove me to tears. Thankfully, I have never seen the inside of a courtroom for failure to pay fines, but if I had, I would have paid as many of these peoples’ fines as I could. It is just absolutely atrocious what poor, down and out people have to go through what with having to pay license fees, vehicle registration and taxes and tabs and since we are taxed to pieces as it is, the government; local, state and federal are making out like bandits and we don’t even see the results of all the fees and fines and taxes collected. And with how stupidly planned Amerikkka is, it is next to impossible to get around without a vehicle, hence the reason for the fees and the fines for not having the ability to pay the fees. I just throw my hands up!


    • It was a real eye opener for me, as well, Shelby. In fact, prior to Michael Brown’s shooting in Ferguson I had no idea small were deliberately fining people for minor infractions (that they couldn’t pay) because rich people and corporations deliberately opt out of paying taxes. And of course poor people lack the ability to fight for their Constitutional rights as they lack the wherewithal to obtain good legal representation.


  2. It has always been the American way. From indentured workers, to black slaves to the current antebellum debt slave system. 6 million in jails, prisons, half way houses, on probation-parole in this goddamn prison:police state now


  3. The government takes peoples taxes and refuses to acknowledge ever-worsening social inequality,
    Crime and incarceration are exploding.

    Political and environmental deterioration and horrendous military scams-fiascos-debacles, that cost trillions, are sucking the health , life, money, and mental wellbeing out of us.

    The media alway lies and pretends that America is still a great superpower . They bombard us with political gossip and intrgues about The trumps or Clintons as news as if to rub our collective noses in their, and our own shit. Meanwhile the same shithead politicians continue with business as usual, like a giant funnel sucking our life force and well being up to the bankers and rich

    The main stream media , are controlled by corporations , that blabber endlessly about a bright future while the internet is greatly controlled by mass confabulations byi360 and caambrdge anaylica

    The corruption and decay is so far advanced a blind man does and can tell what’s going on , while the brain dead masses eat it up as the ptb insist that the country is in an economic recovery or about to enter recovery repeatedly.

    This corrupt puppet Government controlled by the billionaires, elites, military, and corporations, has a primary role to peddle illusions so that a splintered and aerosolized public, is hypnotized by its computer and smart phone-screens . Bullshit propaganda of every concoction , from blatant repeated lies, to twisted conspiracy confabulations that distract from the real conspiracies and dirty deeds, are diverting people from the reality of the collapse.

    People are seeing problems as personal rather than as group and are doing nothing .
    The bitter irony is thus: People are being hornswaggled into being sheep when they are told on their computer sites to “Think more critically and do what my website says!”

    Hate groups and explicit crimes of hate and bigotry are encouraged People even encourages people to self loathe and hate themselves because they are not ideologically or pearly white enough.

    The internet subtefuges, are powered by dark money and spooks . They are empowered and enabled by the deep state and trump, in the war against us.
    The double think is twisted two or three times.

    Mass shootings are the norm now. The economy is a cancer where monopolized property and property values have skyrocketed so and rents so high no one can afford them.. Young people live it instantly homeless because the do not make enough money to make rent . most sure as he’ll cannot afford college anymore. YThe children, women, the disabled, the sick and the elderly are becoming massively homeless or more exploited, abandoned -abused.
    Dissent is becoming difficult as critics are censored and attacked as responsible for the decline. Journalists and demonstrators jailed and threatened w jail.


    • Nothing. I feel there is nothing to say.

      We are subjugated. The ball and chain has always been on most of us. Now there is no way to get rid of it.

      The charade of democracy is coming to an ugly closing. The ugly allianceu of wall street bankers and international bankers, of the war pigs, the billionaire oligarchs , the corporations, the corporate duopoly has won! If you could call it that.

      The three headed dragon of our imminent demise has been sanctified in the short term economic profiteering of international and national war pigs , oil companies and Nucleoapes.

      The play acting is over. They

      There isn’t any need for the play acting game of “The Russians stole the elections” anymore!

      The complete consolidation of corporate power, neoliberal and neoconservative political and military power, military industrial-power is a done deal. Half the country is ruined and impoverished . America will never go back to the good old days.
      The empire has turned into a sick joke where the intermediate nuclearforces treaty is abborgated .
      The oligarchs on both sides can go into a feeding frenzy of new cold war and nuclear weapon toys. The generals and neoconservatives are getting their wet-dream of tactical nuclear weapons that will surely start world war 3 . No one cares.

      Wall street , the republicans, the duopoly democrats have decided America is not worth saving, The corporate duopoly has absolute power now.
      Trump will stay in power and a corporate goon like Biden will win in 2020 if we last that long.

      The captured old guard democrat sell-outs, will continue to beat the drums about the, bad ol Russians and crazy old Trump, while our military goes ape shit in S America and Syria, leading to possible nuclear confrontation and massive fresh displacements of people as seen in Libya and iraq.

      Our infruscture is in intensive care. The environmental catastrophes will get worse. Old shitty reactors will start popping off, exploding and melting down fukushima style along their fuel pools catching fire .
      Places like San onofre with hundreds tons of poorly contained nuke waste will go up all over the country


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