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poverty and handcuffs. street in Camden NJ
Oh privatization, when will your democratic charms diminish?

One of the problems with underfunding our nation's infrastructure, alongside archaic drug laws and ticket-quota-based law enforcement, is the need to ease city and state's financial burdens. Privatization always promises that this can be done efficiently and fairly. In this great new tradition came the concept of privatizing probation. What can go wrong?

Let's ask Human Rights Watch.

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that a person sentenced to probation cannot then be incarcerated simply for failing to pay a fine that they genuinely cannot afford. Yet many misdemeanor courts routinely jail probationers who say they cannot afford to pay what they owe—and they do so in reliance on the assurances of for-profit companies with a financial stake in every single one of those cases.
Did you say "misdemeanor"?
In Georgia, Thomas Barrett pled guilty to stealing a can of beer from a convenience store and was fined US$200. He was ultimately jailed for failing to pay over a thousand dollars in fees to his probation company, even though his entire income—money he earned by selling his own blood plasma—was less than what he was being charged in monthly probation fees.

How can this happen?

[T]hey arise because public officials allow probation companies to profit by extracting fees directly from probationers, and then fail to exercise the kind of oversight needed to protect probationers from abusive and extortionate practices. All too often, offenders on private probation are threatened with jail for failing to pay probation fees they simply cannot afford, and some spend time behind bars.
The promise of this privatization scheme is the creation of an offender-funded court system. In the end it turns out that you're guilty until your credit report proves otherwise.

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Comment Preferences

  •  An important post. (36+ / 0-)

    Not exactly news to anyone who has been paying attention to either criminal justice or the privatization schemes or corporate America, but since no one seems to be paying attention, these posts are even more necessary.


    "For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, clean, and wrong." --H. L. Mencken

    by mcstowy on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:57:50 AM PDT

  •  sorry if it sounds tasteless (9+ / 0-)


    money he earned by selling his own blood plasma—was less than what he was being charged in monthly probation fees.
    the poor dude sold his spirited(vodka,wiskey,beer)
    blood to pay for wtf
    i have to admit that my juristical english is not good enough to follow.
    greetings from germany
    ps have to look up
    probation fees
    maximising profits
    means looking for new
    ways of money
  •  A lyric lament (13+ / 0-)

    I just spent 60 days in the jailhouse
    for the crime of having no dough
    now here I am back out on the street
    for the crime of having nowhere to go

  •  LBJ declared a war on poverty. It was fought (12+ / 0-)

    in fits and starts, and achieved some victories amidst the many setbacks.

    Nixon's owners declared war on the poor and it's been an absolute Blitzkreig waged from both sides of the isle ever since.

    "Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

    by Greyhound on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:07:39 AM PDT

  •  "Dickensian"starting to look like a step up. nt. (16+ / 0-)

    “Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.” FDR

    by Phoebe Loosinhouse on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:18:43 AM PDT

  •  The opposite is true as well... (16+ / 0-)

    Have enough money, and you can get away with quite a lot.

    Justice might be blind but she can sure smell the green.

    Freedom isn't free. That's why we pay taxes.

    by walk2live on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:27:19 AM PDT

  •  Lack of due diligence (9+ / 0-)

    From the HRW report:

    Just as troubling, many judges ask probation companies rather than their own clerks to prepare arrest warrants for probationers whom the companies allege have violated the terms of their probation. Those warrants require a judge’s signature but some judges do not bother to inquire into the facts around a probationer’s alleged violation. One judge acknowledged to Human Rights Watch that he does not even have time to scrutinize warrants and other company-prepared orders before signing them.
    The legal system is the one practicing indifference here... the fact a private company is involved is really tangential to the whole thing.
    •  so tired of your irrelevant bullshit (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aitchdee, mcstowy, mzkryz, Eric K, maregug

      Unaffordable charges are being imposed upon the poor by private probation companies.  I do not believe you are too stupid or dull witted to get this.  That leaves a different alternative...

    •  Not Tangential, Essential (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Yes, of course the legal system has a lot of blame here. The legal system is what has outsourced to private, profit seeking corps the application of the law.

      But of course it is the outsourcing to private, profit seeking corps that is a very big problem. Otherwise, why blame the legal system for it?

      Plus, as the diary indicated, the private corps are throwing on loads of extra fees the public legal system did not. Which puts more people back in jail, perpetuating the cycle.

      You are blatantly willfully ignorant of what is spelled out in the diary, and what is obvious to common sense. You are a Conservative liar, working to excuse private profiteers from exploiting injustice.

      "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

      by DocGonzo on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 03:34:26 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  "Loads of extra fees" (0+ / 0-)
        Plus, as the diary indicated, the private corps are throwing on loads of extra fees the public legal system did not. Which puts more people back in jail, perpetuating the cycle.
        The HRW report provides little actual evidence of excessive profit taking.  The fines are court administered, and court imposed payment plans can have fees for application whether system is public or private.

        The Harpersville case is almost entirely government wrong doing, establishing a court solely for the purpose of filling public coffers.

        I could just quote the HRW report on this matter (p. 55):

        That said, an enormous share of the responsibility for the problems described in this report lies with state and local governments and with local courts.
        As to this:
        You are blatantly willfully ignorant of what is spelled out in the diary, and what is obvious to common sense. You are a Conservative liar, working to excuse private profiteers from exploiting injustice.
        I wasn't even aware this was contracted out until I read the HRW report.  I gain nothing from this privatization one way or another.

        What precisely am I lying about?

        •  Blatantly Willfully Ignorant (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          From the diary:

          In Georgia, Thomas Barrett pled guilty to stealing a can of beer from a convenience store and was fined US$200. He was ultimately jailed for failing to pay over a thousand dollars in fees to his probation company, even though his entire income—money he earned by selling his own blood plasma—was less than what he was being charged in monthly probation fees.

          $200 dollar fine. $1000 fees to the company, for which nonpayment he was jailed.

          Again, I did not excuse the courts. I explicitly blamed them.

          It is you who is excusing the private companies. By ignoring facts right in front of your face, while you dig around in reports cherrypicking quotes to excuse them.

          You are a Conservative liar, working to excuse private profiteers from exploiting injustice.

          "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

          by DocGonzo on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 09:57:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I don't think he is excusing th private compani... (0+ / 0-)

            I don't think he is excusing th private companies.

            He is saying if the judicial system was doing THEIR boon, the fees imposed by private companies wouldn't MATTER. Because judges would cut them off at the knees when arrest warrants were submitted Fo signatures.

            Enough judges saying "wtf, No. Now go sit in time out for being a greedy criminal" (imposing illegal fines is.... Criminal. Or should be...) And private companies would either 1) stopnteying or 2) get out of the business altogether because it wouldn't be the profit engine it is.

            Part of the blame also rests squarely with the dude who stole BEER. steal a yogurt, an Apple... Because you're hungry. I'll feel terrible for your plight, fight for justice.

            But beer? Hard to feel sorry for him. He should have waited until his plasma money came in and just bought it. If Mr. Barrett hadn't stolen the beer to begin with he wouldn't have any fees anyway.

            Poverty isn't the crime being punished here.

            Theft is.

            If that crime hadn't been committed, the rest would not have occurred, either.

            Judges and private companies can't commit atrocities if you don't first don't first commit a criminal act for which to be fined.

  •   I am so glad you have written this very (13+ / 0-)

    important diary.  Thank you!

    I was stunned when my adult son recently told me about this practice in Georgia.  

    The subject came up when I questioned the validity of his fears of being jailed if caught driving without his DL.

    His wallet had been lost/stolen & it took almost 3 months for us to get all the necessary paperwork needed to replace his DL (due to new onerous ID laws & birth abroad).

    During our discussion, he used examples of traffic ticket, single parent, low income, lack of flexible work hours-transportation that could create this same revolving door you describe in your post...fined, then jailed for inability to comply, then facing fines & scenerio again upon release from jail.

    Over a misdemeanor.

    It is draconian & a catch 22 for those caught unaware or unable to comply with appointments or unable to pay the fines.

    Long ago, I worked in social service & most of every day was spent in my car- going to court, investigations, etc.

    Small town with parking limitations meant I racked up some parking fines despite working for the town.  I wasn't the only one-those who worked in the office all day would move their vehicles back & forth all day to avoid fines.

    It pissed me off & being a brat, I would wait until the last minute & pay those fines in pennies-in the night depository.  I imagine that today, I'd be arrested or fined even more.

  •  NPR did a series (16+ / 0-)

    on the intersection of poverty and the justice system, and basically arrived at the conclusion that debtors' prisons have returned in new guises.

    Very chilling. States and municipalities want to shift costs of trials onto the defendants because budgets, but the inevitable effect is that those with means can bear those costs far better than the poor or indigent.

    "Much of movement conservatism is a con and the base is the marks." -- Chris Hayes

    by raptavio on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 10:47:43 AM PDT

  •  there ought to be a constitutional amendment (13+ / 0-)

    Probiting profiteering from prisons or probation.  OK, so I'm dreaming.

  •  As always, privatization costs more (15+ / 0-)

    as the taxpayers pay these companies to administer probation and pay again to incarcerate the poor when they can't pay the fines.

    You'd think we'd wise up to these scams at some point.

  • (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    thanatokephaloides, Oh Mary Oh

    see the story...

  •  Yeah (5+ / 0-)

    Another great result showing how good privatization works. Here's what you do folks. Sue the privatized corporation for any abuse and simultaneously sue the government entity that employs them for lack of oversight and knowingly hiring a company incompetent in it's job and unable to follow the rule of law. Also sue any individual who does this, separately, making sure to exclude his insurance companies so that he alone pays.

  •  I again faced jail this year due to an injury. (7+ / 0-)

    I was injured, I couldn't work. It wasn't on the job and I wasn't fired, so no worker's comp or unemployment. I got by on the charity of a friend who needed a place to stay. My pernicious EX once again slung me into court because I was behind on support payments.

    They called it a 'willful violation'.

  •  Same racket (and worse) in TN (4+ / 0-)

    and, pre-trial, the bail bondsmen make a lot of money because judges are allowed to re-jail defendants at will, with zero due process, in direct contravention to state statutes and certainly in violation of the US Constitution. They simply have the court clerk photocopy the original arrest capias, doctor the date so the document falsely claims that the rearrest is pursuant to a grand jury finding, and the cops go in with guns drawn. Defendant spends days to months in jail waiting for a new bond hearing, and the bondsman is happy to take more money for that 2nd bond if the defendant can pay. The State Supremes see nothing wrong with it, nor does the U.S. 6th Circuit.

    Fight them to the end, until the children of the poor eat better than the dogs of the rich.

    by raincrow on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 03:05:29 PM PDT

  •  a lot of poor people originally got sent here (4+ / 0-)

    as indentured servants, from the debtors' prisons of england.

    fucking madness.

  •  Misdemeanors? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alypsee1, maregug, Oh Mary Oh

    What about traffic tickets?

    Devin’s crime? She drove her deceased sister’s car, not knowing it wasn’t insured.
    Devin didn’t know that she not only had to pay her ticket but also owed the state a $250 surcharge every year for the following three years.
    Her first inkling of a problem was when her boss at Pizza Hut informed her that her driver’s license was suspended.
    With a suspended license, she couldn’t keep insurance. Without insurance, she couldn’t get her car inspected. Those led to more tickets and more surcharges.
    Bad? It gets worse
    Then came word of an amnesty program. ...
    But on her way to the Department of Public Safety to pay off her reduced fees, she was stopped for having an expired inspection sticker. “I tried to explain. I showed the officer the amnesty letter. He said, ‘It doesn’t matter.’”
    She got a new ticket — and a new surcharge that didn’t qualify for amnesty.
    She just quit paying anything on the tickets or surcharges. Warrants were issued.

    “Texas is a so-called red state, but you’ve got 10 million Democrats here in Texas. And …, there are a whole lot of people here in Texas who need us, and who need us to fight for them.” President Obama

    by Catte Nappe on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 05:11:46 PM PDT

  •  This Is Why (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    alypsee1, Oh Mary Oh

    We need professional probation officers who work for the court. Believe me when I tell you I didn't do that job for the money. I helped people despite the pay being crappy, because I cared about my clients. We were not privatized. Once privatization comes in, compassion goes out.

  •  Are we doomed to repeat our mistakes? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Oh Mary Oh

    Or, will we finally find the courage to get those RWNJ's out of the way, so this country can work its way to sanity?

  •  Hey that's great! Now the prison industrial (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    complex can profit 2 times.

    Once on the probation and then on the room and board.

    What a great business.

    Politicians are fucking titanically stupid. Private companies grow or die.

    Democracy - 1 person 1 vote. Free Markets - More dollars more power.

    by k9disc on Wed Aug 13, 2014 at 11:57:41 PM PDT

  •  despite the overwhelming evidence of (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    what privatization does or governments keep on doing it. This speaks worlds of information about the corruption in our governments. The end result for the people is always bad yet they keep doing despite what it does to people. There has to be some sort of payoff that keeps them doing it. They can't all be that stupid.

  •  Wait... (0+ / 0-)

    ... I thought that being rich was ACTUALLY a crime? Right?

    Our system automatically fines anyone who makes a high income -- or a REALLY high income -- and collects it automatically, right? And the more made, the fine gets Progressively steeper, right?

    We should be proud of this achievement. 100 years ago, we did NOTHING to fine these criminals. Then,  the 16th Amendment took away a technical loophole. Fines started at 1% - 3% of only the richest criminals, but after a century of battle we have achieved truly stupendous results. in FY2013, fines, er...taxes, amounted to over $2700 Billion!

    •  If the rich don't want to pay taxes, tell them ... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      snwflk, dewolf99

      If the rich don't want to pay taxes, tell them stay off our fucking roads that us working stuffs need to get to our pittance of a paycheck jobs.

      We also won't be protecting them with laws against being personally liable for their companies dicking over employees or communities being damaged by crappy business practices. And should their business fail, we WILL be taking their personal residence to pay off their debtors...

      They can be on their own in the event of a military crisis and domestic or foreign terrorism on our soil. We'll point the way to them for the terrorists and they can hire their own private security. Good luck with that. Maybe they'll get kidnapped while traveling abroad and our government, funded by our taxes, can ignore their pleas for help.

      Also, no access to the fire department or police. Get your own fire trucks. How's that private security working out for you?


      I do not feel sorry for them having to pay taxes.

      They should be paying MORE.

      Income taxes were NOT intended to be collected from income earned by working. Senators actually asked that specifically during the passage of amendments allowing the collection of taxes. It was intended to be collected from profits on the sale of property, business profits, and profits from investments.

      Meaning the ONLY money that was intended to BE taxed is in fact the ONLY money we DON'T tax.

      Which disproportionately affects the poor and those whose ONLY source of income is the income we were NEVER supposed to tax.

      •  same old same old (0+ / 0-)

        Heard this a million times.

        It does not change the fact that making money is a crime in the United States, punishable by confiscation.

        •  taxes aren't a crime. (0+ / 0-)

          They're not confiscation.

          They're sort of like the membership fee to a golf in.

          only it's a membership fee for an ORGANIZED SOCIETY. You know.


          Poor people pay them, too. At an exponentially higher percentage of their total income.

          If you don't want to be a member of our little society, the feel free to GTFO.  

          •  No they don't (0+ / 0-)

            "Membership" is a volutary thing. Where do I resign from your country club? Don't worry, I'll voluntaryily pay my way for the commons, but not your way.

            Where did you get the notion that the poor pay income taxes? They don't. Sometimes they have FICA deducted from their pay, but get all of that, plus more, back in a refund if they have really low income.

            As to GTFO, no, this is the land of the grownups who chamipion freedom, property rights and enterprise. We are not going anywhere, this is our country.

  •  Charles Dickens must be (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    screaming in his grave!

    "When shall it be said in any country of the world, my poor are happy; neither ignorance or distress is to be found among them; my jails are empty of prisoners, my streets of beggars; the aged are not in want, the taxes not oppressive; the rational world is my friend because I am friend of its happiness; when these things can be said, then may that country boast of its constitution and government." - Thomas Paine (1737 - 1809)

  •  Foolish me (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    And I thought debtor's prisons had been outlawed! Oh foolish me - we are back in the middle ages...

  •  Can you Say Siberian labor Camps ? (0+ / 0-)

    Went are the going to address the root causes of Homelessness. Not expend their time and our tax dollars  trying to find a better way for their constituency to exploit the problem?

    Numerous studies have reported that approximately one-third of homeless persons have a serious mental illness. Take PTSD among returning Vets that end up homeless or schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, just for a few examples.

  •  Unfair (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The court house near me charges $50 every time you shop up to court so every time your lawyer asks for a continuance you pay another $50. And for poor people that is a lot of money so they get screwed again! Not to mention poor people get screwed because they can't afford a good lawyer.

  •  Why is it that those same people who say, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tickledpeep, snwflk

    "A hand up rather than a hand out," always end up giving the poor the back of their hand instead?

  •  private prisons (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tickledpeep, snwflk

    80% of prisons are for profit so lobbying to pass laws to lock folks up is money in the pockets of the corporations that own them.  No need to rehabilitate, cause if they don't, more money when they return.  So this article makes perfect sense in an imperfect world.

  •  Justice for the poor? Courts are in it for the ... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Justice for the poor? Courts are in it for the money...why would a city focus on reducing crime? Where would they get revenue? Currently it's outrageous fines it's families funding prisons.

  •  I saw what happens first hand in Georgia 2 years (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snwflk, bevmar

    ago.  My son got two speeding tickets, one in one county, one in another.  One he could pay by mail or through the internet, no court appearance neccesary, no fees if he paid.  So he paid.  The other, almost identical violation in a neighboring county, required him to show up in court.  He was by then living in Florida, had to go all the way there for the court.  In court, (I drove him), there were probably 200 people with identical charges in just the afternoon session of court we were in.  My son had no job at the time, no money, and was going to take jail time instead of paying a fine.  He and I figured at most a month.  We sat and watched as person after person who had tickets went before the judge, who impossed fines of sometimes over $1,000 for speeding.  He also put them on probation, with a private company, with fees.  When my son's turn came he asked about going to jail as he had no money.  He was told it would be one year!  For going 10 over the speed limit, which in Atlanta, is a daily occurance unless you want run over.  He asked to think about it, came back and said he couldn't spend a year in jail, he was already behind in his child support!  So he talked with the district attorney, got the fine down to $800, and accepted it.  We went to the probation office and found out the fees would be $130 a month until the fine was paid.  When we got home, I went to a friend of mine, borrowed the money and paid the fine and the first month $130 fee and got that monkey off his back.  That is what is happening, over and over.  We talked to people in the probation office who had been dealing with it for years!  They could not get out of it any easier than a payday loan can be gotten out of.  Our country should be ashamed of this.  

    •  Private Probation SHOULD BE ILLEGAL (0+ / 0-)

      I empathize 100%  This supposed to be the United States of America, not the USSR.

      A thousand dollar find for doing 10 miles hour is cruel and unusual punishment!  That is a violation of the Constitution and if you can find a lawyer with balls, you can still do something about it.

      Once, while in Oklahoma, I was pulled over for doing 30 miles over the limit.  The officer made a grave error by trying to enter my vehicle without even asking or having a warrant OR having reasonable cause.  When I stood on my Constitutional rights, the officer tried like hell to get himself out of the vice he had put himself in...but when he asked if I was a lawyer, he knew he was between a rock and a hard place: I was a legal assistant.

      He let me go without a ticket (phew).

      As I write this, I'm losing my vision due to a kind of migrane, so good luck.

  •  Quit protecting insanity from itself. (0+ / 0-)

    If the insane rulers want to put the poor in jail for poverty.
    Learn how Jiujitsu works.

    If you happen to be one of these "poor".

    a) Steal a loaf of bread.
    b) Turn yourself in.
    c) Demand a pro-bono Lawyer
    d) Plead NOT guilty.
    e) Demand a jury trail.
    f) Forgo on bail.
    g) Insist on healthcare and dentistry during your imprisonment.
    h) Insist on aid in rehabilitation after being released.

    The aforementioned $2.00 problem just became a $ 20 000.00 burden. Offcourse, if only one person follows this strategy, nothing will happen to the system as such. But if 100 000 people each day exercise this strategy. The insanity will come to a screeching halt before the week is over.
    Thence stand back in awe for the fireworks of a system crumbling under its own insanity.
    Knowing there are more than 40M people on foodstamps. Motivated poor could keep this up for 400 days without breaking a sweat or needing to repeat the exercise more than once.

  •  Years ago... (0+ / 0-)

    I found myself being arrested and placed behind bars for accidentally bouncing a check.

    The bank demanded a $20 fee, the store demanded a $25 fee, then the store put the check through a second time. Yup, another $45 in fees for a $10.00 check. So now I owed $100 for a ten dollar check.

    I tried to work something out with the bank and the store, neither would budge although I did not have the money. I was making about $200 a week, was raising my son as a single mom (my dearly departed departed!) leaving me with damned little after paying rent, power, food, etc.

    While I was still trying to negotiate something with the bank and the store I was pulled over for an expired inspection sticker and they discovered that a warrant was out for my arrest.

    Well...they towed my car, slapped me in jail, and while I was going through the process of becoming an inmate, I passed out, hitting my head on the concrete floor.  I'd never so much as jaywalked before and never thought I'd ever find myself in jail.

    When I came to, my jaw was hurting and I had two black eyes.  Other prisoners told me that the jailers had thought I was screwing around and beat me while I was unconscious.

    My employer bailed me out, took care of the fines, etc. and took me to a hospital.  They took pictures of my face and confirmed that I had suffered a concussion.  I was in the hospital for three days recovering.

    The city settled with me, giving me enough to pay for a newer used car (mind had been crushed because of a clerical error) and open a good savings account.

    I became a criminal because I could not afford to pay $100 in fees and the original $10.00.  The city considered a bounced check, regardless of whether it was deliberate or an accident, as a CRIMINAL OFFENSE. happens and I feel sorry for any poor bastard to which it happens.

  •  Do your reaserch and find out exactly who owns ... (0+ / 0-)

    Do your reaserch and find out exactly who owns these private probation services and for that matter the private jails that most small cities use, surprise some of the same judges that sentence these criminal offenders to these private probation services and private jails. Can one say conflict of interests.

  •  Even If You Never Land In The Court System ... (0+ / 0-)

    Being poor is enough of a crime to cost your your right to vote.  Particularly if you are homeless.

  •  debtors' prisons (0+ / 0-)

    Oligarchy is quietly being established in the USA.  Debtors' prisons do exist even when they're not being called that.  

    Expect that in the near future ANY and ALL failure to pay a bill for any reason will be deemed theft.

    This is not the American dream; it is the American nightmare.

  •  I've posted this before and (0+ / 0-)

    I'm going to do it again.  I'm glad this topic keeps coming to light on KOS.  Technically, we know being poor is not a crime.  What is a crime is precisely what these courts in concert with private industry are doing.  It is long past time that the god damned justice department police it self correctly and not in just  with reactionary impulse when the people are about to burn down a city.  This is copied directly from the Department of Justice web site and is the attendent law that supports the 13th amendment of the Constitution.  It is positive law, meaning it applies to everyone including Judges and private sector probation wonks profiting from this.  

    It is easy to read and understand.   Italics added.

    A number of provisions in the U.S. Code target trafficking in persons, also known as involuntary servitude/slavery or forced labor. These provisions are contained in Chapter 77 of Title 18 and are sometimes referred to generally as Chapter 77 offenses. The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA) of 2000 supplemented existing laws, primarily 18 U.S.C. § 1584 (Involuntary Servitude), and also provided new tools to combat trafficking. Key statutes are excerpted below.


    Summary: Section 1581 of Title 18 makes it unlawful to hold a person in "debt servitude," or peonage, which is closely related to involuntary servitude. Section 1581 prohibits using force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion to compel a person to work against his/her will. In addition, the victim's involuntary servitude must be tied to the payment of a debt.

    18 U.S.C. § 1581

    (a) Whoever holds or returns any person to a condition of peonage, or arrests any person with the intent of placing him in or returning him to a condition of peonage, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If death results from the violation of this section, or if the violation includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or an attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the defendant shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both.

    (b) Whoever obstructs, or attempts to obstruct, or in any way interferes with or prevents the enforcement of this section, shall be liable to the penalties prescribed in subsection (a).

    Involuntary Servitude

    Summary: Section 1584 of Title 18 makes it unlawful to hold a person in a condition of slavery, that is, a condition of compulsory service or labor against his/her will. A Section 1584 conviction requires that the victim be held against his/her will by actual force, threats of force, or threats of legal coercion. Section 1584 also prohibits compelling a person to work against his/her will by creating a "climate of fear" through the use of force, the threat of force, or the threat of legal coercion [i.e., If you don't work, I'll call the immigration officials.] which is sufficient to compel service against a person's will.

    18 U.S.C. § 1584

        Whoever knowingly and willfully holds to involuntary servitude or sells into any condition of involuntary servitude, any other person for any term, or brings within the United States any person so held, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If death results from the violation of this section, or if the violation includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or the attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the defendant shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both.

    Forced Labor

        Summary: Section 1589 of Title 18, which was passed as part of the TVPA, makes it unlawful to provide or obtain the labor or services of a person through one of three prohibited means. Congress enacted § 1589 in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Kozminski, 487 U.S. 931 (1988), which interpreted § 1584 to require the use or threatened use of physical or legal coercion. Section 1589 broadens the definition of the kinds of coercion that might result in forced labor.

    18 U.S.C. § 1589

    Whoever knowingly provides or obtains the labor or services of a person--

    (1) by threats of serious harm to, or physical restraint against, that person or another person;

    (2) by means of any scheme, plan, or pattern intended to cause the person to believe that, if the person did not perform such labor or services, that person or another person would suffer serious harm or physical restraint; or

    (3) by means of the abuse or threatened abuse of law or the legal process,

    shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If death results from the violation of this section, or if the violation includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse or the attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the defendant shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both.

    Trafficking with Respect to Peonage, Slavery, Involuntary Servitude, or Forced Labor

    Summary: Section 1590 makes it unlawful to recruit, harbor, transport, or broker persons for labor or services under conditions which violate any of the offenses contained in Chapter 77 of Title 18.

    18 U.S.C. § 1590

    Whoever knowingly recruits, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains by any means, any person for labor or services in violation of this chapter shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both. If death results from the violation of this section, or if the violation includes kidnapping or an attempt to kidnap, aggravated sexual abuse, or the attempt to commit aggravated sexual abuse, or an attempt to kill, the defendant shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for any term of years or life, or both.

    end copy and paste

    Where are the civil rights lawyers on this?


  •  Probation is a joke. (0+ / 0-)

    Here in the Bluegrass State, where convicted criminals are generally given stiffer sentences for drug and money crimes than they do for murder, being placed on probation is a joke. It's a revolving-door policy that can keep lawbreakers in the system for years. A person on probation will see a certain amount of freedom for awhile, but then if they violate their probation, commit another crime during that time, or fail to pay their fines and court costs, they're rearrested and hauled off to the local hoosegow to await the resolution of their case in the courts. Many of the crimes are misdemeanors, stupid shit never should've been prosecuted in the first place.

    Thus, a person who's been placed on probation for, say one year (with the courts and prosecutors acting like they've done them a big favor), could end up being in the system for years. I've known guys who have chosen to serve out their time in jail rather than complete a period of probation time, because by doing this, once their sentence is completed, then they're out of the system. Serving time in jail as opposed to probation avoids the revolving-door dilemma. It only makes sense that SOMEBODY is getting rich off of these unfair criminal justice policies, and it sure ain't the state of Kentucky.

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