The Return of Debtor’s Prisons in the US
Listen to story:
Download: mp3 (Duration: 17:32 — 16.1MB)
FEATURING REBECCA BURNS – The US long ago outlawed debtor’s prisons through rulings by the Supreme Court and laws by Congress. Yet an ACLU report called A Pound of Flesh: The Criminalization of Private Debt concludes that millions of Americans are threatened with jail over debts they cannot pay, and thousands are actually jailed. The debts can arise from mistakes and bank errors and can be incredibly low amounts.
Through a web of aggressive and poorly regulated debt collection practices and lower courts eager to incarcerate, low-income people of color are disproportionately targeted.
While the federal government is supposed to protect Americans from being imprisoned over the inability to pay off debts, investigative reporting revealed that President Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner himself engages in aggressive debt collection from renters of his properties in Baltimore, Maryland.
Read Rebecca’s article ‘How Lenders are Turning Low-Level Courts into Dickensian “Debt Collection Mills,’ at The Intercept HERE, and download the ACLU report ‘A Pound of Flesh: The Criminalization of Private Debt’, HERE.
Rebecca Burns, award-winning investigative reporter and a contributing editor at In These Times. Her work has appeared in outlets including The Baffler, the Chicago Reader and Dissent. Her new article just published in The Intercept is entitled How Lenders are Turning Low-Level Courts into Dickensian “Debt Collection Mills.”
**This segment was originally broadcast on March 1, 2018.