The return of debtors' prisons

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Henry Vilas
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The return of debtors' prisons

Postby Henry Vilas » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:42 pm

Are we heading back to the bad old days?

How did breast cancer survivor Lisa Lindsay end up behind bars? She didn't pay a medical bill -- one the Herrin, Ill., teaching assistant was told she didn't owe. "She got a $280 medical bill in error and was told she didn't have to pay it," The Associated Press reports. "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."

Although the U.S. abolished debtors' prisons in the 1830s, more than a third of U.S. states allow the police to haul people in who don't pay all manner of debts, from bills for health care services to credit card and auto loans.


I hope this doesn't give Scott Walker any ideas.

Remember_Me
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Re: The return of debtors' prisons

Postby Remember_Me » Sun Apr 29, 2012 4:25 pm

Seems more like a scare tactic than anything. Do they actually keep people in jail after the booking? Are they getting results from the arrests? Doubtful.

Just another example of our screwed up healthcare system.

Then there's this too:

Debt Collectors in the E.R. and Delivery Room

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Re: The return of debtors' prisons

Postby Refugee IL » Mon Apr 30, 2012 12:21 pm

As a long-time former resident of Illinois and son of parents who drilled "ignorance of the law is no excuse" into my head from a very young age, I know as a fact that collection of debt is not a criminal matter. Even if it were, it would be local law enforcement, not the ISP knocking at the door.

I've been sued twice. Both times I wasn't served with papers on purpose, because the last thing the plaintiffs wanted was for me to show up in court because they'd lose.

In the first case it was a lawyer who was my landlord. When the apartment went condo, he violated the lease by sending in prospective buyers without prior notice, thus terminating the contract. I didn't know that I had been sued until I found that he had used the secret lawsuit to empty my bank account. Back then I didn't have enough money in the bank to make much of a difference, and he didn't try it again.

The second time it was a cab driver who sued me for personal injuries after he rear-ended me. Because of the ties between certain cab companies in Chicago with organized crime, and because it was cheaper to pay the ransom, I settled out of court for a small fraction of what he was seeking.

Hospitals are another matter. I've seen actual health care workers (not hired 3rd party collectors) threaten patients to pay up or else. I even got a collection notice in the mail from one hospital the day after I visited their ER (an amazing thing in itself, considering I left the ER at 3AM and got the letter at 8AM the same day) even though my insurance covered everything. (I later went to work at the same hospital, and told my story to the manager of the collections department. They feared me from that point on! :mrgreen: )

If you're uninsured and need urgent medical care, your best bet is to get arrested. This is what our national health care system has come to.


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