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Civil Rights & Abortion Discuss ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Caroli at the Political Forums; ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Carolina Thursday’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of five ...

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Old 06-02-2017, 08:27 PM
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Default ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Caroli

ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices
in Lexington County, South Carolina

Quote:
Thursday’s lawsuit, filed on behalf of five indigent plaintiffs, including Brown, alleges that Lexington County has been engaging in the equivalent of modern-day “debtors’ prison” practices: issuing arrest warrants for people who are unable to pay court fees or court-ordered fines for minor infractions like parking tickets, and jailing them without offering them lawyers or determining whether they have the ability to pay in the first place.

The lawsuit names as defendants Lexington County; the sheriff of Lexington County, Bryan Koon; a judge of one of the magistrate courts, Rebecca Adams; and a few other Lexington County court officials.

At issue in the case are two county policies: The Default Payment Policy and the Trial in Absentia Policy. Under the Default Payment Policy, a court will impose a payment plan for fees or fines, requiring steep monthly payments that are often beyond the individual’s financial means. If the person fails to pay, the court issues a bench warrant ordering law enforcement to arrest and jail the individual unless the full amount owed is paid.

Under the Trial in Absentia Policy, the complaint says, Lexington County courts order the arrest and incarceration of people unable to pay fines and fees in connection with trials and sentencing proceedings that are held in their absence. Even if the individual contacts the court to request another hearing date and to explain why they cannot appear at the scheduled hearing, courts will convict them in absentia, and sentence them to jail pending payment of fines and fees. Before notifying these individuals of their sentences, courts issue bench warrants ordering law enforcement to arrest and jail the individual, again unless the full amount owed is paid.

Simply put, courts cannot jail people because they are too poor to pay fines—sometimes called “pay or stay.” In 1833, Congress abolished the use of debtors’ prisons and in 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court followed suit in a case called Bearden v. Georgia.

In Bearden, the Supreme Court noted that it had “long been sensitive to the treatment of indigents in our criminal justice system.” It continued: “There can be no equal justice where the kind of a trial a man gets depends on the amount of money he has.”

If a person has the means to pay court fines but simply refuses to do so, that person can be jailed after a court determines that they had the ability to pay but willfully refused. But it is patently unconstitutional to lock up a person in jail if they are poor and simply do not have enough money to pay the fines.

Yet that is what has been happening in Lexington County, according to the ACLU. And often, it is people of color who are caught up in this unfair system.
https://rewire.news/article/2017/06/...outh-carolina/

Go get 'em ACLU...
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Old 06-03-2017, 06:48 AM
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Default Re: ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Ca

I usually disagree with the ACLU's handling of some issues, but this is one time I agree with them. I've always opposed jail for nonviolent crimes, and failure to pay things like parking tickets harms no one.
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Old 06-03-2017, 09:55 AM
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Default Re: ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Ca

Let's take a look at the SCOTUS holding.
Quote:
The ruling held that local governments "must inquire into the reasons for the failure to pay" when dealing with revocation cases for people who failed to pay a fine, and that only if the probationer "willfully refused to pay or failed to make sufficient bona fide efforts legally to acquire the resources to pay" can they be imprisoned or jailed.[8] The ruling also held that courts must consider alternatives to imprisonment and determine that they are insufficient to "meet the state's interest in punishment and deterrence" before sending someone to prison for nonpayment of a fine.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearden_v._Georgia

The SCOTUS lays out a process whereby failing to pay a fine can result in arrest and imprisonment. The ruling allows the courts to consider not just the person's ability to pay but their bona fide efforts to acquire the resources to meet the obligation. That is in stark contrast to the florid language of the OP claiming debtors prisons practices.

Based on the outline presented in the OP the mechanisms required by the SCOTUS are in place. The ACLU histrionics undercuts the validity of their claims of debtors prisons.
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Old 06-03-2017, 11:31 AM
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Default Re: ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by AZRWinger View Post
Let's take a look at the SCOTUS holding.
Quote:
The ruling held that local governments "must inquire into the reasons for the failure to pay" when dealing with revocation cases for people who failed to pay a fine, and that only if the probationer "willfully refused to pay or failed to make sufficient bona fide efforts legally to acquire the resources to pay" can they be imprisoned or jailed.[8] The ruling also held that courts must consider alternatives to imprisonment and determine that they are insufficient to "meet the state's interest in punishment and deterrence" before sending someone to prison for nonpayment of a fine.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bearden_v._Georgia

The SCOTUS lays out a process whereby failing to pay a fine can result in arrest and imprisonment. The ruling allows the courts to consider not just the person's ability to pay but their bona fide efforts to acquire the resources to meet the obligation. That is in stark contrast to the florid language of the OP claiming debtors prisons practices.
Care to justify this claim?
Because it sounds EXACTLY like what the article described.

Twanda Marshinda Brown, a resident of Lexington County, South Carolina, was arrested at home in front of her children and then incarcerated for nearly two months because she owed almost $2,000 to the court that she couldn’t afford to pay.

....
After making five payments, she could no longer make any payments because the checks from her employer, Burger King, kept bouncing, Brown told Rewire in a phone interview.

“The judge was very rude and I explained to her that I had seven kids. She told me she didn’t care how many kids I had, she just wanted her payment,” Brown said.

“If I missed a payment, she said she would issue a warrant for me and I would have to spend 90 days in jail,” Brown added.

About four months later, the sheriff’s deputies showed up at Brown’s door on a Saturday morning and served her with a bench warrant requiring her to pay $1,907.63—the remainder of the balance she owed—or serve 90 days in jail. Brown couldn’t pay it; the deputies then arrested her.
A CLEAR VIOLATION of the "debtor's prison" ruling / law.
There was no "willful" refusal to not pay. She was not able to pay.


Quote:
Originally Posted by AZRWinger View Post
Based on the outline presented in the OP the mechanisms required by the SCOTUS are in place. The ACLU histrionics undercuts the validity of their claims of debtors prisons.
Your histrionics undercut your argument.

WHERE do you see "the mechanisms required by the SCOTUS" demonstrated in the article?
There was no "willful" refusal to pay. She could not pay.
From the article's description, there was NO "consider alternatives to imprisonment".
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Old 06-04-2017, 03:55 PM
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Default Re: ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Ca

A broke person is a broke person, and playing the race card (people of color) to rouse up some sort of feeling regarding this "debtor's prison" crap is unnecessary.
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Old 06-04-2017, 10:18 PM
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Default Re: ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by foundit66 View Post
ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices
in Lexington County, South Carolina


https://rewire.news/article/2017/06/...outh-carolina/

Go get 'em ACLU...
This is not debtors prison
debtors prison is like you fail to meet a debt obligation like Sears or a personal loan and you are thrown into jail.

if you are assessed a fine for traffic or jay walking, driving w/o a tag etc and you fail to pay you go to jail. since there is a sentence guideline and it is already a crime.
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Old 06-05-2017, 06:08 AM
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Default Re: ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Ca

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Originally Posted by saltwn View Post
This is not debtors prison
debtors prison is like you fail to meet a debt obligation like Sears or a personal loan and you are thrown into jail.

if you are assessed a fine for traffic or jay walking, driving w/o a tag etc and you fail to pay you go to jail. since there is a sentence guideline and it is already a crime.
If a person's ability to pay is not taken into consideration for a non-violent 'crime', and a person with no funds is jailed, exactly what where would the funds come from to free them? Chances are, if they had employment, they would lose it when jailed. So it becomes an issue of people being held in jail because of failure to pay a civil fine.....

Our court system has more serious things to deal with than this.
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Old 06-05-2017, 09:31 AM
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Default Re: ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Ca

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Originally Posted by saltwn View Post
This is not debtors prison
debtors prison is like you fail to meet a debt obligation like Sears or a personal loan and you are thrown into jail.

if you are assessed a fine for traffic or jay walking, driving w/o a tag etc and you fail to pay you go to jail. since there is a sentence guideline and it is already a crime.
You don't get thrown into debtor's prison if you try to pay the bill but you are broke. You get thrown there when you have money but you tell the lender to go chew a prune, and then you moon the judge.
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Old 06-05-2017, 11:51 AM
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Default Re: ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by foundit66 View Post
Twanda Marshinda Brown, a resident of Lexington County, South Carolina, was arrested at home in front of her children and then incarcerated for nearly two months because she owed almost $2,000 to the court that she couldn’t afford to pay.

....
After making five payments, she could no longer make any payments because the checks from her employer, Burger King, kept bouncing, Brown told Rewire in a phone interview.

“The judge was very rude and I explained to her that I had seven kids. She told me she didn’t care how many kids I had, she just wanted her payment,” Brown said.

“If I missed a payment, she said she would issue a warrant for me and I would have to spend 90 days in jail,” Brown added.

About four months later, the sheriff’s deputies showed up at Brown’s door on a Saturday morning and served her with a bench warrant requiring her to pay $1,907.63—the remainder of the balance she owed—or serve 90 days in jail. Brown couldn’t pay it; the deputies then arrested her.
A CLEAR VIOLATION of the "debtor's prison" ruling / law.
There was no "willful" refusal to not pay. She was not able to pay.
It doesn't look like this is the whole story. We have only her word that she was unable to pay and a couple of things make that suspicious:
- Her payment appears to be about $20, not typically a budget busting number.
- It says she has 7 kids but doesn't say she is a single mom, is there another income?
- She was interviewed by phone, anybody want to bet it was a cell phone?
- The "checks kept bouncing" claim, while not impossible, is a bit fishy as well. Franchises that habitually bounce payroll generally get their franchise taken away.

I don't see enough evidence to say this is a "couldn't pay" vs. this being a "wouldn't pay".

That aside, what are the authorities to do? Should people be given immunity for minor violations because they have less money than someone else? Here's an idea, if you can't afford a parking ticket, don't park illegally.
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Old 06-05-2017, 12:24 PM
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Default Re: ACLU Files Lawsuit to End Debtors’ Prison Practices in Lexington County, South Ca

Quote:
Originally Posted by lurch907 View Post
It doesn't look like this is the whole story. We have only her word that she was unable to pay and a couple of things make that suspicious:
- Her payment appears to be about $20, not typically a budget busting number.
- It says she has 7 kids but doesn't say she is a single mom, is there another income?
- She was interviewed by phone, anybody want to bet it was a cell phone?
- The "checks kept bouncing" claim, while not impossible, is a bit fishy as well. Franchises that habitually bounce payroll generally get their franchise taken away.
I don't see enough evidence to say this is a "couldn't pay" vs. this being a "wouldn't pay".
Actually, it would be more accurate to say you're ignoring her explicit statement regarding "couldn't pay" (testimony is evidence) and throwing a lot of assumption out there to try to pretend there is any reason to invalidate her statement.

Seven kids.
And she's working with Burger King checks?
And you are seriously thinking she's hiding money?


Quote:
Originally Posted by lurch907 View Post
- She was interviewed by phone, anybody want to bet it was a cell phone?
Are you trying to confuse second-guessing how she spends her money (based on an assumption) with her having an actual incapability to pay?

But by all means locker her up because you think she could be using a cell phone (with no info as to whose even)



Quote:
Originally Posted by lurch907 View Post
That aside, what are the authorities to do? Should people be given immunity for minor violations because they have less money than someone else? Here's an idea, if you can't afford a parking ticket, don't park illegally.
Nobody said anything about immunity.
The debt is still valid.

The government not getting their money when there is evidence of incapability to pay (and no evidence she's lying) NEVER results in throwing somebody in prison.
Read the ruling. Understand the law.
You may not like it but that's not the same thing as saying the government is doing something legal here...
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Last edited by foundit66; 06-05-2017 at 12:32 PM..
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