Lawmaker Tries To Stop Modern Day Debtor's Prisons

We’ve brought you several stories about so-called modern day debtor’s prisons that have starting rising across America as shady debt collectors pervert the power of the courts to their own end. They’re basically deputizing the local police to do their debt collecting for them. Now a Washington lawmaker has put forward a new bill to try to put a stop to the practice.

The measure would prohibit collection agencies from asking judges to forfeit the debtor’s bail money into the collectors’ pockets. This would remove the central keystone holding up the debt collector’s skeezy strategy.

The way it currently works is that debt collectors buy five to six year old debts for pennies on the dollar from companies that have already written off ever collecting the debt. Then, the firms, frequently run by attorneys, employ a system of auto-dialers and call center teams to get the cash. They aim to get double what they paid for the debts. Anything after that is just gravy.

In some states and counties, the collectors can seek court orders to get debtors to pay, which can result in a civil warrant for the debtor’s arrest. Some precincts then apparently have the luxury and manpower to enforce them and a deputy sheriff shows up on the debtor’s doorstep and arrests them. The debtor can spend 24-48 hours in jail until their court appearance.

Debtors often don’t even know that there is a warrant out for their arrest until they get the knock on their door and the bracelets on their wrists.

The point of bail is get a person to show up to court. But in some cases, the judge will set the bail at the exact amount of the debt owed.

Maybe the Washington legislation can be an inspiration to other sates.

Washington lawmaker trying to protect debtors from jailing [Crosscut]

Govt. Notices Rise Of “Debtor’s Prisons,” Doesn’t Like Them
FTC To Take A Closer Look At Debtors Being Thrown In Jail
Al Franken Wants To Put An End To Abuse By Debt Collectors
Debtors Increasingly Thrown In Jail. Wait, What?

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