U.S. Debtor Fears Debtor Prison

With the economy being so bad this past four years, local authorities in some states are arresting debtors and placing them into jail. It is no coincidence that the bail to get out of jail is set at the same amount the creditor is owed. These types of actions has caused one US debtor to fear the return of debtor’s prisons here in America.

This personal bankruptcy story was posted on the internet in March of 2011 as comments in a bankruptcy discussion: “I am on disability, I owe a lot in past medical bills. I am being harassed on a more than daily basis by one collection agency. I am about to have even more surgery. I do not have the money to pay them at this time and will not be able to scrape together enough to pay them for a while and I worry all the time about when they’ll be able to haul me off to jail for it. At the rate this country is going, with privatizing prisons on the agendas all over the place,I have no doubt that we’ll have debtors prisons in no time if we as a nation do not stand up and fight back.”

Technically, bankruptcy is covered under the Constitution of the United States which gives Congress the power to legislate bankruptcy laws. The laws Congress have legislated through the years guarantees every citizen the right to bankruptcy protection, and without going to prison.

In the past, the United States did send debtors to a debtor’s prison in most states up until New York abolished the practice in 1831. The federal government, along with most of the rest of the states, followed suit in 1833.

Since then, rogue states and local authorities have challenged bankruptcy laws from time to time. The most common challenge to bankruptcy laws come in the form of de facto challenges. As an example, the most common use of throwing someone in jail comes not from owing the debt, but from failing to respond to a court order to appear before a judge who might demand you pay the debt or show good reason why you cannot. When you do not show up for the court appearance, a warrant is issued for your arrest for contempt of court.

A recent news article posted in the Star Tribune in Minnesota reported that arrests warrants for debt related contempt of court has grown over 60% in the past four years, and there were 845 issued in 2009 alone. Minnesota has some of the more creditor friendly laws in the nation.

Probably the greatest de facto debtors’ prison has already been largely accepted in the case of “deadbeat” parents when a failure to pay child support puts them in civil contempt of court. Most states around the nation usually find child support a dividing line as an argument for imprisonment. Bankruptcy laws through the years have evolved so child support cannot be discharged in bankruptcy cases.

The average cost to house an inmate across the nation is about $135 in 2011, including the cost of dental and medical coverage. The average income for most common workers in the US in 2011 is around $100 per day, from which they have to pay dental and medical costs if they are to have any. The average court award for child support in the US is $280 per month per child, and the average number of children per household is right at two. Considering normal living expenses and taxes, the average American paying child support will have approximately $1500 a month to live on and support a new family if so blessed.

So, what is the incentive for those who owe child support to work? What is the incentive to send the so called “deadbeats” to jail at a higher cost than they can ever make?

I suspect the new local laws to imprison debtors, even those debtors who owe child support, are more punitive in nature. I suspect the attitude of the local authorities to imprison their fellow man is more about piety and control than it has ever been about doing what is financially right for everyone concerned, including the debtor. It might bode well for all Americans if all would abide by the Constitution instead.

One way to combat local judgment is to file for bankruptcy protection. If you decide to file, you will most likely need a bankruptcy lawyer to help you understand the complex bankruptcy laws and how they might apply in your particular situation.

If you determine you are in need of relief from the stress associated with debt and you live in or around the metropolitan counties of Middlesex, Somerset, or Hunterdon, New Jersey, contact us here today at www.betterbankruptcy.com .We will help you find a bankruptcy attorney in your area that will help you with any questions you may have on bankruptcy law.

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