Those who made the laws have apparently supposed, that every deficiency of payment is the crime of the debtor. But the truth is, that the creditor always shares the act, and often more than shares the guilt. ~ Samuel Johnson (1758)The 21st century Gilded Age has seen the return of many long forgotten ills. Governance is again becoming the exclusive domain of the wealthy. The laws against child labor are under attack. And debtors prisons are returning.
Considered a relic of the Victorian Age and Dickensian novels, it has long been illegal to imprison someone because of an inability to pay his debts. Not any more. The tricks are endless:
- Demand a debtor appear in a distant city for a needless deposition and then imprison the debtor for failure to appear (an Order of Capias).
- Obtain a court order for payment of a small debt and then demanding imprisonment until the debt is paid.
- Bill prisoners for room and board and then imprison the poor indefinitely for failure to pay.
- More than 5,000 arrest warrants for debt were issued in 2010 in just nine counties in the United States.
At least in the old days there were separate debtors prisons where poor unfortunates were held together and could care for each other; families were even allowed to stay together. In these modern times, people whose only crime is debt are tossed into the general prison population with hardened thugs and rapists.