The article below describes in succinct terms the way the elites are keeping the poor in check - BY IMPRISONING THEM; and most American Christians - allied as they are with America's economic elites - support what's happening. It's not without reason that the Apostle James said:
It's for this reason that Stephen Bradley felt he could no longer serve as a police officer and call himself a Christian. [Please see Stephen's article, "The American Church Has Failed."]
harass a homeless
Apparently, though, some states and county jails never got the memo. Welcome to the debtors' prisons of the 21st century.
"Edwina Nowlin, a poor Michigan resident, was ordered to reimburse a juvenile detention center $104 a month for holding her 16-year-old son," the New York Times wrote in an editorial.
"When she explained to the court that she could not afford to pay, Ms. Nowlin was sent to prison. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which helped get her out last week after she spent 28 days behind bars, says it is seeing more people being sent to jail because they cannot make various court-ordered payments. That is both barbaric and unconstitutional."
The details of Nowlin's case are even more alarming than the Times editorial suggests. Not only was Nowlin under orders to pay a fine stemming from someone else's actions, but she had been laid off from work and lost her home at the time she was ordered to "reimburse" the county for her son's detention.
But when she got back to the jail, the sheriff told her to sign her check over to the county--to pay $120 for her own room and board, and $22 for a drug test and booking fee.
Even more absurd, Nowlin requested but was denied a court-appointed lawyer. So because she was too poor to afford a lawyer and denied her constitutional right to have the court provide one for her, she couldn't fight the contempt charge that stemmed from her poverty. And her contempt conviction only added to her poverty, as the fines and fees she was obligated to pay now multiplied.
"Like many people in these desperate economic times, Ms. Nowlin was laid off from work, lost her home and is destitute," said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the Michigan ACLU ...
MICHIGAN ISN'T the only place where you can be imprisoned for the crime of involuntary poverty. The same Catch-22 ensnares poor defendants daily in courtrooms across the country.
"I need work to eat, and I need to eat to work: CATCH-22"
In 2006, the Southern Center for Human Rights (SCHR) filed a suit on behalf of Ora Lee Hurley, who couldn't get out of prison until she had enough money to pay a $705 fine. But she couldn't pay the fine because she had to pay the Georgia Department of Corrections $600 a month for room and board, and spend $76 a month on public transportation, laundry and food.
She was released five days a week to work at the K&K Soul Food restaurant, where she earned $6.50 an hour, which netted her about $700 a month after taxes. Hurley was trapped in prison for eight months beyond her initial 120-day sentence until the Southern Center intervened. Over the course of her incarceration, she earned about $7,000, but she never had enough at one time to pay off her $705 fine.
"This is a situation where if this woman was able to write a check for the amount of the fine, she would be out of there," Sarah Geraghty, a SCHR lawyer, told the Atlanta Journal Constitution while Hurley was still imprisoned. "And because she can't, she's still in custody. It's as simple as that."
CELL AWAITING FIRST POOR PRISONER
"Corrections Corporation of America, the largest operator of for-profit prisons in the US, has spent millions of dollars lobbying Washington for stricter laws that would ensure that their facilities are regularly close to total capacity. As these companies spend money to make new laws and expand on others that target non-violent criminals, the companies responsible generate mass income from operating the facilities."
Georgia also lets for-profit probation companies prey on people too poor to pay their traffic violations and court fees.
And all this from a company that wants to make money off these "services" and therefore has every reason to make life more miserable for those who have fallen into their clutches.
According to a 2008 SCHR report entitled "Profiting from the poor":
"In courts around Georgia, people who are charged with misdemeanors and cannot pay their fines that day in court are placed on probation under the supervision of private, for-profit companies until they pay off their fines. On probation, they must pay these companies substantial monthly "supervision fees" that may double or triple the amount that a person of means would pay for the same offense.
"For example, a person of means may pay $200 for a traffic ticket on the day of court and be done with it, while a person too poor to pay that day is placed on probation and ends up paying $500 or more for the same offense.
"The privatization of misdemeanor probation has placed unprecedented law enforcement authority in the hands of for-profit companies that act essentially as collection agencies. These companies, focused on profit rather than public safety or rehabilitation, are not designed to supervise people or connect them to services and jobs. Rather, they charge exorbitant monthly fees and use the threat of imprisonment and a variety of bullying tactics to squeeze money out of the men and women under their supervision.
"For too many poor people convicted of misdemeanors, our state is not living up to the constitutional promise of equal justice under law."
Welcome to America, home to 5% of the world's population & 25% of the world's prisoners
In Gulfport, Miss., the municipal court started a "fine collection task force" to crack down on people who owed fees for misdemeanors. According to the SCHR Web site:
"The task force trolled through predominantly African American neighborhoods, rounding up people who had outstanding court fines. After arresting and jailing them, the City of Gulfport processed these people through a court proceeding at which no defense attorney was present or even offered.
"Many people were jailed for months after hearings lasting just seconds. While the city collected money, it also packed the jail with hundreds of people who couldn't pay, including people who were sick, physically disabled and/or limited by mental disabilities."
The disregard of the justice system for the rights of poor people to equal protection and due process is cause for outrage. But it shouldn't come as a surprise in an era when the government spends billions bailing out banks while letting foreclosures and unemployment ruin the lives of working people.
IN ADDITION, WE URGE YOU TO DOWNLOAD THE NEW ANTIPAS PAPERS, PRINT THEM OUT YOURSELF, AND STUDY THEM CAREFULLY; SHARE THEM WITH YOUR FRIENDS.
FINALLY, WE URGE YOU TO DOWNLOAD AND PRINT OUT THE FLYER WE SENT TO YOU RECENTLY.
Then make copies and take these copies out to the campuses where you live; pass them out; OR if that seems too "daring" for you right now, post them on telephone poles, the sides of buildings, on campus bulletin boards; post them in union halls, in the neighborhoods of the poor and downtrodden, near employment offices, wherever you can.
Once again, we URGE you to read (or re-read):