Bail me out of jail?

De-facto debtors’ prisons in Illinois, the Deadbeat State

So here’s the state of Illinois, which slow-pays its vendors, which has $85 billion in pension obligations it cannot meet and which last week bounced $159,000 worth of lottery checks. And yet the “Deadbeat State” allows its judges to throw people in jail who cannot pay private debts.

And you thought debtors’ prisons went out in the 19th century.

On Monday in Alton, the state Department of Financial and Professional Regulation held a hearing on the practice, which appears to be more prevalent in southern Illinois than in central and northern counties. The department regulates banks and other financial institutions, including payday loan and consumer finance companies. A second hearing will be held Wednesday in Marion.

The department is considering asking the Legislature to change state law to prohibit the incarceration of individuals who legitimately don’t have the resources to pay their debts. What a concept.

A debtor typically winds up in jail in Illinois when his creditor files a complaint in court and the debtor fails to answer the summons. Many of those who wind up in jail may have moved or have no fixed address or can’t understand the legal papers.

If the debtor finds himself pulled over by police for an unrelated matter, often a traffic stop, the computer shows that a “body attachment” has been issued by the court, and he is arrested and jailed.

Is he there because he owes money? Technically, no. He is in jail for violating a court order. But the reason for the court order is the debt, so it’s a distinction without a difference.

In some cases, when friends or relatives arrive to bail the debtor out jail, the bail money goes directly to the creditor.

Last fall, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan told The Wall Street Journal that she wanted to crack down on the fast-growing debt-collection industry. Such firms typically buy consumer debt for pennies on the dollar, then go hammer-and-tong to collect them.

“We can no longer allow debt collectors to pervert the courts,” Ms. Madigan told The Journal. She said she would urge judges to reject warrant requests from debt-collection firms.

In 2010, the Department of Financial and Professional Regulation revoked the business license of a Carbondale-based payday loan company. The department said that the firm had threatened at least four customers with jail time if they failed to repay their loans.

The company reached a settlement with the state agency last summer, admitting no wrongdoing but agreeing to stop the practice of requesting writs of body attachment.

State law already allows creditors to seek court orders garnisheeing up to 15 percent of a debtor’s wages. This is not always useful; some debtors may, in fact, be deadbeats, but others are in debt because they’ve lost their jobs. Social Security and other retirement benefits, insurance and public assistance can’t be garnisheed.

Debtors have an obligation to work out a payment schedule if at all possible. At the same time, creditors have an obligation to understand that sometimes it’s impossible. The state’s job is to legislate what’s reasonable; for courts to act as agents for collection agencies fails that test.

And let’s face it: If the state allows deadbeats to be jailed, Springfield is going to need a bigger jail.

so,. . . i read this article last night. . . and i got a bit miffed
here’s my story —
when i was younger, i had some really bad luck. . . i lost a couple jobs, and was left unable to pay my bills. . . i tried to negotiate with them, but they would have rather had no money than any. . . i even got my best friend (RIP ACW) to help me out, and they even told HER that they’d rather write it off than receive a trickle of money.  so i didn’t pay them. they wanted all or nothing. they got nothing. fast forward to 2009 when the Navy says, we’re going to deny your security clearance unless you pay off your debt (which let me just interject and say — that was one of the reasons i joined in the first place was to clear my debt up) i said ok, well i intend to do so with my sign on bonus, and they informed me, you won’t GET your sign on bonus if you don’t fix things, b/c we will kick you out. so i started paying stuff down. after i got married, i had my bah to help me since husband had a good paying job and paid little money in rent, so all the bah went to my bills, i got them down to mostly non-existent except for student loans, and some i was paying on for a while. . . one of those was capital one – i paid them $200 a month (or something) and they told me they would do this for a year, and then call me and renegotiate the amount i owed, and deetermine a new payment. so that point in time came and i had not heard from them, i called them multiple times and left multiple messages and heard nothing back. i didn’t know what to do, i can’t continue to pay someone if i don’t know where to send the payments (they were pulling the money out of my account themselves, so i had no address) i even waited a month or 2 and called them again. . . to no avail.
so i was stuck. had nothing i could do. . . *shrug* ok?
fast forward to last week when i get a notice in the mail saying that there was a judgement on this capital one thing back in 2007 in st louis, ok  — and the new owner of the debt had tacked on another 2 grand to the amount that i owed, i called them and said ok — what is going on – why do youhave this, explained what had happeend to the guy and he informs me that they now own it b/c i moved, and b/c i moved the other company was no longer able to collect on it. . .
would NOT let me get a word in edgewise to this fact b/c it was complete bullshit . . . when i set up the payments i was in Illinois, when i moved to the apartment, i called them and gave them my new address. . . i had already been paying the court costs in with the last payments, and they added them on again!?!?!?! 
so, now i’m stuck paying on this, paying court costs that i already paid, and getting fucked over.
but here’s my point on this story – if i refuse to pay, and happen to get pulled over — i can go to jail!??!
i know some of it needs to be paid, it is my debt after all, i just need advice on how to not have to pay the court costs all over again. . .
plus i wanted to vent about the ‘debtor’s prison
so if you get a call that i’m in jail — this will be why. . .
from the state that can’t even pay their own bills. . .

About trozellerosio

I am me. that's really all there is to know. I am still figuring out exactly all that entails, but I think it takes a lifetime to do so...

Posted on January 11, 2012, in Life and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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