Fee-Farming: A New Way To Pay For Big, Bloated Government
J.D. Tuccille writes at reason about the reincarnation of debtor's prison -- with the debt cleverly imposed by towns municipalities around the nation and the for-profit businesses that administer the systems.
From the New York Times story on this by Ethan Bronner, "The result is that growing numbers of poor people, like Ms. Ray, are ending up jailed and in debt for minor infractions."
More from Bronner:
CHILDERSBURG, Ala. -- Three years ago, Gina Ray, who is now 31 and unemployed, was fined $179 for speeding. She failed to show up at court (she says the ticket bore the wrong date), so her license was revoked.
When she was next pulled over, she was, of course, driving without a license. By then her fees added up to more than $1,500. Unable to pay, she was handed over to a private probation company and jailed -- charged an additional fee for each day behind bars.
For that driving offense, Ms. Ray has been locked up three times for a total of 40 days and owes $3,170, much of it to the probation company. Her story, in hardscrabble, rural Alabama, where Krispy Kreme promises that "two can dine for $5.99," is not about innocence.
...Half a century ago in a landmark case, the Supreme Court ruled that those accused of crimes had to be provided a lawyer if they could not afford one. But in misdemeanors, the right to counsel is rarely brought up, even though defendants can run the risk of jail. The probation companies promise revenue to the towns, while saying they also help offenders, and the defendants often end up lost in a legal Twilight Zone.
The stories in the Times piece are just awful. This is not the country we're supposed to be.