|The latest creepy relic from the darkest recesses of the Dickensian past that appears to be making a comeback these days are debtors’ prisons. Debtors’ prisons show up in a number of Dickens’ novels, most notably Little Dorrit, which is one of his masterpieces. George Bernard Shaw claimed it converted him to socialism and called it “a more seditious book than Das Kapital.” Dickens surely knew from debtors’ prisons, since his chronically impecunious father had been in one. And now, as Think Progress reports, this reviled institution is being revived, and poor people in Ohio are being thrown in the clink for being unable to pay off debts — mostly legal fees and court fines. On Friday, Ohio’s ACLU released a report about the state’s debtors’ prisons, and it is a sobering and quietly enraging read.
Among the findings of the report:
• Being imprisoned for debt is clearing unconstitutional and was declared so by the U.S. Supreme Court over 20 years ago. It is also against Ohio law.
• People are being jailed for failure to pay fines and court costs, sometimes for amounts as low as a few hundred dollars.
• It’s affecting many people — as many as 20% of the bookings in the Huron County jail in the second half of 2012, for example. In two other counties, in one six-week period in 2012, a total of at least 120 people were jailed.
• Sentence lengths vary. One woman went to jail for ten days for being unable to pay $300 in overdue legal fines. A man who owed $1,500 in court fines and was behind in child support payments was sent to prison for three and half years. […]
• Needless to say, this practice is a nightmare for the people being victimized by it. The threat of jail constantly hangs over their heads, particularly if the debt is continuing and they have no way of paying it. Going to jail means they may lose their jobs and they have to scramble for child care. And - duh! — when they’re in jail, they can’t exactly be earning money to pay back their debts. […]
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2008—Saving Captain McCain:
|The traditional media's insipid love affair with John McCain reached new depths this weekend when a CNN reporter rushed to his defense against ... wait for it ... a high school student who "heckled" him by asking a question.
It was all started by that awful, horrible Katelyn Halldorson. You'll remember that bad-girl Katelyn grabbed a microphone or something and, like, flamed John to his face at his old private high school in Virginia.
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