Thousands of Americans sent to debtors’ prisons monthly

Once upon a time in Western Europe, circa the 19th century, debtors’ prisons were a common phenomenon. And they were exactly what they sound like: Prisons for people who were unable to pay their debts. People who were destitute or simply had fallen on hard times and were unable to repay court-ordered judgments were “sentenced” to these prisons. They remained there until they were able to either work off what they owed or secure funding from another source.

Now, in 21st century America, debtors’ prisons are making a comeback.

According to a new report from Human Rights Watch called Profiting from Probation, more than 1,000 courts around the country “delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation.”

Further, a summary of the report states:

“In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.”

Often, the group says, the poorest Americans wind up having to pay the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. When they fail to pay, companies then can, and do, ensure that they are arrested.

So, while such incarceration is not actually called “debtors’ prison,” the result is the same.

In particular, notes the ACLU, which is taking up the cause of ending such incarcerations:

“Human Rights Watch tells the story of Thomas Barrett in Georgia. Unemployed and living off food stamps, Barrett was out on probation and ordered to pay a $200 fine for stealing a $2 can of beer from a convenience store. On top of that, Sentinel Offender Services, LLC, the company administering Barrett’s probation, charged him $360 per month in supervision and monitoring fees despite the fact that Barrett’s only source of income was money earned by selling his blood plasma.”

Barrett was forced to skip meals in order to pay Sentinel. Nevertheless, he still fell behind in payments and at one point wound up owing the company $1,000 in fees — or five times more than the $200 fine that a court had imposed.

In a bid to collect the debt, Sentinel then petitioned a court to revoke Barrett’s probation, which it did. He was then jailed.

….”Imprisoning someone because she cannot afford to pay court-imposed fines or fees violates the 14th Amendment,” says the ACLU.

And Barrett is just one of thousands of cases, the legal assistance group says.

What’s more, the trend towards more, not fewer, such cases has been growing….

By J. D. Heyes – Natural News –

Justice Roy Moore strikes a major blow for marriage

Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court has taken a stand against judicial tyranny on the matter of natural marriage. And strikingly and importantly, he has called on the governor of Alabama to do the same.

Last Friday, another judicial activist, U.S. District Judge Callie Granade, overturned Alabama’s marriage amendment, which was passed in 2006 by a staggering 81 percent of voters. (The judge has stayed her own ruling for two weeks.)

Justice Moore says he will not recognize the federal court ruling, and he is calling on Gov. Robert Bentley to do the same. And the beauty of it is that he is doing it all on solid constitutional grounds.

In Justice Moore’s letter to the governor (which you can read here) he states the constitutional and legal facts plainly and correctly. The Constitution, he says bluntly, gives no jurisdiction whatsoever to any branch of the federal government to dictate marriage policy to the states.

“As you know,” Judge Moore wrote, “nothing in the United States Constitution grants the federal government the authority to redefine the institution of marriage.” This, of course, is manifestly true. The authority to dictate marriage policy to the states is conspicuously absent from the list of powers “We the People” granted to the central government in Article I, Section 8.

In fact, the word “marriage” does not occur anywhere in the Constitution. You can read it front to back, back to front, upside down and in Sanskrit and you will find nary a mention of marriage anywhere in there, including the 14th Amendment, which was about slavery, not marriage. (On top of that, homosexual conduct was a crime everywhere in the United States at the time the 14th Amendment was enacted.)

All this means is that the issue of the definition of marriage is reserved, as Justice Moore correctly observes, to the states and the states alone.

“As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,” Moore wrote.

Here’s how Justice Moore concludes his letter to the governor: “I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity. Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.”

Moore points out that 44 federal judges have already imposed their own view of morality on 21 states against the manifest will of the people as expressed at the ballot box, disenfranchising millions of voters in the process. The key to breaking the power of this out-of-control judicial tyranny is in the hands of our elected officials at the state level.

State justices can, as Justice Moore has done, defy unconstitutional federal rulings which have overturned marriage amendments….

What Justice Moore is advocating is not rebellion at all, but a call to quash the rebellion which has already occurred, the rebellion of federal judges against the limits imposed on them by our supreme legal document. With regard to federal judges, it is time, in Jefferson’s words, “to bind (them) down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution.” Justice Roy Moore is showing us how.

By Bryan Fischer – One News Now –