Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Debtors' prisons and other catastrophes

Last week, a 55-year old mother of seven was found dead in her Pennsylvania jail cell. She was thrown in the slammer because she was too poor to pay legal fines stemming from her kids' truancy cases. In my latest Baffler post, I explore this ghastly case in more detail. In particular, I look at three insidious trends it exemplifies: sticking poor people with exorbitant legal fees and fines and depriving them of their freedom if they can't pony up, jacking up those costs further even through private probation debt collection firms, and finally, dealing with truancy cases via the criminal justice system. In short, a perfect twenty-first century horror show, American-style.


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