American consumers in trouble as US judges begin to imprison debt defaulters

[Tom Goldwater, Finance & Economy Contributor]

The Wall Street Journal:  In more than a third of American states now if you don’t pay your debts,  courts can imprison you.  In the UK, only local authorities have that privilege thus far as Britons can be imprisoned for failing to pay their council taxes.However, with British debt defaults increasing on a daily basis in the current severe economic times, it is likely that soon the country will follow American states providing for debtors to be jailed for non-payment of their debts.

Since 2010, The Wall Street Journal reports, over 5,000 warrants have been issued by US judges over nine counties against debtors. Furthermore, according to the Star-Tribune: “In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments. In extreme cases people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment….In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Illinois, man to ‘indefinite incarceration’ until he came up with $300 towards a lumber yard debt.”

The Star-Tribune reported that the man was a rooftop worker who had snapped his neck and back on the job and was off work due to his severe injuries and as a result could not pay debt was jailed for non-payment of the debt. His wife had to borrow the $300 from her credit card to get him out of jail.

Although in the USA, debtor prisons were outlawed in the 19th century, judges do not appear to be deterred from jailing debtors who fail to pay their debts and regulatory authorities are not intervening.

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