Friday, August 07, 2015

Poor People get the Shaft part eleventy billion

So let's say you live in a small town in the South.  Most everyone with the means has left for the city.  Those that have stayed have let's say, a severe dislike of government and taxes.  But court fees, they may hate em, but only people who break the law have to pay them and that's usually out of town speeders or "those people".

See, a little known fact is that most of these towns raise almost all their operating budgets from fines, usually speeding tickets.  Go through any small town in the south and you'll discover this.  Ferguson was a classic case of this as the city incentivized officers to bring in as much as possible.  You think fines here are high, try close to 200 for going as little as 8 over.

So, lets say you live in one of these small towns.  You get a couple tickets, you now owe over $1000 in fees and costs.  You don't have the money so the court sends you to the PRIVATE probation company that handles this for them.  This company has offices throughout the state and has bought this right from the city and charges the city nothing, with one cavaet.  Head over here for more information.  I'll break it down for you here though.

That company forces you to meet with them every week about your case and charges you to do so, usually $35-$45 every time.  So lets say the person who owes the fine pays $50, this company takes its fee off the top, stringing out what you owe even longer, making them more money.  You can't pay, you likely will go to jail.  Who controls the jails and prisons in a large part of this country?  Another private company, like CCA.

We complain about predatory lenders in the check cashing industry, title loans, and the used car industry.  Thanks to Elizabeth Warren and Obama we have the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau to help with this and activists in many states are fighting these groups,  The ACA is a great first step in helping lower the chances of medical debt bankruptcies.

But who is fighting to stop the privatization of the prison and corrections industry?  Do we really want to go back to the days of debtor's prisons?  Do you trust your local leaders to prevent these companies from getting their claws into Memphis in the name of "efficiency" and "private business does it more effectively"?  Transparency and the betterment of everyone.



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