Saturday, April 28, 2012

Debtors prisons in my own state, oh my...

CBS news, April 19, 2012:

CHICAGO — Jailed for unpaid debts? It happened to breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay.She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn't have to pay it. But the bill was turned over to a collection agency, and eventually state troopers showed up at her home and took her to jail in handcuffs.Debt collectors have become so aggressive in some parts of Illinois that they commonly use taxpayer-financed courts, sheriff's deputies and county jails to squeeze poor people who fall behind on small payments of $25 or $50 a month, according to supporters of the proposed legislative reforms.
Lindsay, a teaching assistant from Herrin in southern Illinois, ended up paying more than $600 because legal fees had been added to the original amount."I paid it in full so they couldn't do it to me again," Lindsay said.The Illinois bill would require court appearance notices to be served to a debtor's home, rather than merely mailed. It would require arrest warrants to expire after a year, and it would return most bail money to the debtor, rather than allow it to be used to pay off the debt.Disabled roofer Jack Hinton sat in jail until he could come up with $300 on a debt he owed a lumberyard.According to a hearing transcript, a central Illinois judge listened to Hinton's story, noted he'd recently been paid after finishing a roofing job, and said: "Mr. Hinton, you had $1,000 in your pocket, you chose to spend it elsewhere in violation of the court order. That lands you in jail."Hinton's wife took out a loan to buy his freedom. Her $300 went to the debt collector.Michelle Gilliam, an unemployed Urbana resident, was picked up by sheriff's deputies and jailed twice for missing court dates as a debt collector pursued her in court for a decade, she and her attorney said. Gilliam got help from a nonprofit group offering free legal services and the court dismissed the case, essentially forgiving her debt on the grounds she was too poor to pay.
Welcome to insanity.

We are talking about quite small sums of money here. I myself owed a certain hospital a small amount (about $200+) for services rendered. I was disputing the charges, and lo and behold got the collection agency treatment. Phone calls every day, which, however, were respectful.I investigated the charges, and, after a month, came to the conclusion that, yes, the insurance did not pay them and that, yes, I should pay them.

So I did.

However, in today's climate, it is possible that a sheriff would show up to say a friendly "hello" to myself and haul me to jail.It used to be that when a citizen would not pay, his/her credit rating suffered, and it was then harder and harder to get loans for major purchases such as an automobile, a house, a business.

Then it changed to wage garnishments, where the business would take money directly out of your work wages. Again, a big change, as quite recently this scenario only played out if you were stupid enough to get married and then the wife divorced you. Now, a private business may garnish your wages.This "garnishment" is illegal and an abuse of law, and an abuse of our Constitution... as well as common sense.

But now it gets even "better". Now, we have jail for people who do not pay their debts.Of course, these people do not go to jail because they did not pay, rather:
Under the law, debtors aren't arrested for nonpayment, but rather for failing to respond to court hearings, pay legal fines, or otherwise showing "contempt of court" in connection with a creditor lawsuit.
I have experience of such "legal notices". Here is how this works in reality, and how it worked with me - a certain organization claimed that they have sent me a "legal notice" and that, failing to take action, I was liable for certain "bad things". Trouble was, I never received such a legal notice.It is hard to prove that fact, however, as of course if it is sent as normal snail mail, letters get lost, not delivered, and hey, they did send it, and I obviously chose to ignore it. Just like my grandma's credit card account was magically signed by her emailing a certain company to join a certain plan, payable each month, even though my grandma does not have computer and panics at the mention of the word "email". Of course, such a legal letter should be sent "registered", and into the hands of a receiver, who then gets the pen and signs for receiving it. But our system is not perfect, and even then mistakes occur... But read the article again:
The Illinois bill would require court appearance notices to be served to a debtor's home, rather than merely mailed.
Notice that it does not say that such a notice is sent as "registered", it is sent using normal mail... And then it is the word of the deadbeat, unconnected, loser (namely, me and you) vs. the honest, just-want-to-get-what-they-are-owed company and the ever helpful to the business government... And of course you claiming that you have never received such a letter makes you a liar, and the result is you going to jail.


One might wonder, how can a person repay the debt if he/she is in prison? Worse, being in prison places a permanent record on one's lifetime record, and makes it much more difficult to get a job - ANY job.

But you are making a fatal mistake, dear reader - you are thinking that the system is designed to be logical, to "work" properly.

It seems to me as if the system is designed to strike fear into others who learn about such happenings, just like the security circus in our airports is not designed for security, but more for creating an atmosphere of fear, so that our population is more pliable for certain "measures", which are now and will be implemented in the very near future...

Small steps into tyranny, people...

Meanwhile, pay up everything you owe, otherwise you will go to prison for not responding to that letter that was never mailed...

Unrelated content:
The new blogger interface is incredibly clunky, hard to use, unintuitive and generally fucking terrible. As usual, a corporation takes something that works and "improves" it, probably using expensive consultants to research and then implement.


Fortunately, it is easy to switch back from "retardo-blog" to the dear, old blogger...

Wouldn't surprise me if that option is taken away soon... after all, they know better what you want...

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