Washington Free Press  Washington State's Independent Journal of News, Ideas & Culture
home |  subscribe/donate |  article archive |  issue archive |  organization |  volunteer/submit |  activism calendar |  contact us
CLIMATE      SPORTS      SUBSTANCES      RIGHT BRAIN      MEDIA      TRUTH      LIES      MILITARY      HEALTH      BUSINESS      POETRY      TRANSPORTATION      IMMIGRATION      WORKPLACE      ELECTIONS      WORLD      TECHNOLOGY      POLITICS      ENERGY      EDUCATION      AROUND WASHINGTON      ENVIRONMENT      CULTURE      WAR      ECONOMY      HISTORY      RIGHTS      LAW      ACTIVISM      MEDICINE      MARIJUANA      SEATTLE      CARTOONS      WASHINGTON      VACCINES      TACOMA      GENETIC ENGINEERING      CORPORATIONS      FLUORIDATION      WIRELESS RADIATION      MINOR PARTIES      SPOKANE      CLIMATE      SPORTS      SUBSTANCES      RIGHT BRAIN      MEDIA      TRUTH      LIES      MILITARY      HEALTH      BUSINESS      POETRY      TRANSPORTATION      IMMIGRATION      WORKPLACE      ELECTIONS      WORLD      TECHNOLOGY      POLITICS      ENERGY      EDUCATION      AROUND WASHINGTON      ENVIRONMENT      CULTURE      WAR      ECONOMY      HISTORY      RIGHTS      LAW      ACTIVISM      MEDICINE      MARIJUANA      SEATTLE      CARTOONS      WASHINGTON      VACCINES      TACOMA      GENETIC ENGINEERING      CORPORATIONS      FLUORIDATION      WIRELESS RADIATION      MINOR PARTIES      SPOKANE     
search WFP via Google
PEACE & JUSTICE CALENDAR
compiled by
Jean Buskin

November
December
January
All Months


Cartoons of
Dan McConnell

featuring
Tiny the Worm


Cartoons of
David Logan

The People's Comic


Cartoons of
John Jonik

Inking Truth to Power

Latest Posts
click topics to search past content

MILITARY

Former US Attorney General Testifies for Plowshares Activists Ramsey Clark supports WA anti-nuke movement Ground Zero Center (Nov 28, 2010)

HEALTH

Hunger Up 36% in Washington State from Children's Alliance, cartoon by John Ambrosavage (Nov 28, 2010)

POLITICS

The Progressive Tea Party? Maybe when it comes to surveillance issues Doug Collins, cartoon by Dan McConnell (Nov 28, 2010)
Obama Wooing 'Economic Royalists' FDR was way gutsier Norman Solomon, cartoon by David Logan (Nov 28, 2010)

SUBSTANCES

The Dirty Secret Behind 'Demon Tobacco' Regulation doesn't cover cigarette additives Doug Collins, cartoons by John Jonik (Nov 28, 2010)

EDUCATION

America’s Education Gender Gap Bill Costello, cartoon by John Ambrosavage (Nov 28, 2010)

ELECTIONS

Washington State Votes Against Change Janice Van Cleve, cartoon by Dan McConnell (Nov 28, 2010)

FOLLOW FILE updates

DeCourseys v. Real Estate Giant; Amazon Prevails in Customer Privacy Doug Collins, cartoon by John Ambrosavage (Nov 28, 2010)

ENVIRONMENT

Poll: Southwest WA Supports Conservation Climate Solutions, cartoon by John Jonik (Nov 28, 2010)

CULTURE

What Color Is Your Santa? holiday cartoons by John Ambrosavage (Nov 28, 2010)

MEDICINE

WA Doctors Tell McKenna: Put Patients Before Politics Doctors for America (Oct 25, 2010)

ACTIVISM

No, Higher Consciousness Won’t Save Us Charles Reich got his second book right Norman Solomon (Oct 23, 2010)

LAW

Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons in WA ACLU of WA, with cartoon by John Jonik (Oct 23, 2010)

RIGHTS

Report: Racial Profiling Pervasive Across America OneAmerica (Oct 23, 2010)

WORLD

Port Townsend Food Co-op Rejects Israel Boycott Jefferson County BDS, cartoon by George Jartos (Oct 23, 2010)

HISTORY

A Bellhop in the Swingin' Seventies Overly detailed resume plus cartoon by John Ambrosavage (Oct 20, 2010)
Johnny Horizon's Draft Physical Can he avoid Vietnam? John Merriam (Oct 20, 2010)

AROUND WASHINGTON

Gregoire passes the hatchet; Bears love garbage; Where does the PUD travel to? featuring cartoons by Dan McConnell (Oct 20, 2010)

ECONOMY

Now's the Time to Expand Social Security Good for both Americans and American companies Steven Hill (Sept 9, 2010)

WAR

Obama's Speech for Endless War Normon Solomon, cartoon by Dan McConnell (Sept 9, 2010)

ENERGY

Yellowstone: The #1 National Security Threat Unless we turn Wyoming into a new energy Mecca Martin Nix (Sept 9, 2010)

TECHNOLOGY

Biodefense, Biolabs and Bugs Seattle City Council takes an important first step to safety Labwatch.org (Aug 9, 2010)

WORKPLACE

Teenage Microsoft Sweatshop 15-hour shifts under poor conditions at Chinese factory from the National Labor Committee (May 16, 2010)

IMMIGRATION

Why US Immigration Policy Needs Tweaking Bill Costello, cartoon by David Logan (May 16, 2010)
Arizona Immigration Brouhaha Various opinions from near and far, cartoons by Logan and McConnell (May 2, 2010)

TRANSPORTATION

The Coming Microcar Revolution Martin Nix (May 16, 2010)

POETRY

A Poetic Look at Tacoma Glass Art Museum; a limer-ICK Gerald McBreen (Mar 28, 2010)
Fall Is For Falling Out Of Love, etc. three poems Bob Markey (Mar 29, 2010)

BUSINESS

Who Rules America? Corporate conglomeration is leading to neofeudalism Don Monkerud, cartoon by John Jonik (Mar 27, 2010)

TRUTH

Architects and Engineers Ask for New Look at 9/11 Doug Collins (Feb 20, 2010)

MEDIA

Is Olympic Coverage Sexist? Media coverage rarely gives women equal treatment Univ. of Alberta (Jan 24, 2010)

RIGHT BRAIN

Why I Don't Come at Christmas Anymore not-so-jolly Saint Nick (Dec 18, 2009) Santa Gets Political art by Ambrosavage, Lande, and Dees (Dec 17, 2009)

SPORTS

A People's History of Sports BOOK REVIEW Doreen McGrath (posted July 24, 2009)

CLIMATE

Cashing In On Earth's Cycles: Part 3 Alan Cheetham & Richard Kirby (posted July 24, 2009)
Obama: How Serious About Climate Change? Doug Collins (posted July 24, 2009)


What is the Washington Free Press?

The Washington Free Press exists to carry under-reported news and thought-provoking opinion out to a wider audience. We specialize in news related to Washington State. In order to get the news out, we need your readership and support for basic costs. That's why we ask you to please subscribe and/or donate. If you would like to help us with writing, editing, or "scouting" for writers and articles, please contact us.

Doug Collins, editor

Support the WA Free Press. Community journalism needs your readership and support. Please subscribe and/or donate.


article below posted October 23, 2010    Bookmark and Share
Modern-Day Debtors’ Prisons in Washington

from the ACLU of WA

Poor people increasingly are being jailed for failing to pay legal debts they can never hope to afford.

This treatment creates new hardships for people seeking to re-enter society and wastes resources in an often fruitless effort to extract payments from defendants who may be homeless, unemployed, or simply too poor to pay. A new report from the ACLU looks at “debtors’ prisons” and their devastating impact on individuals in Washington State—one of five states highlighted in the report.

“It’s like something out of Dickens—impoverished people being locked up because they can’t pay off all their debts. And like something by Kafka—the government spending more money keeping someone behind bars than what it will collect for debt itself,” said Doug Honig, Communications Director for the ACLU of Washington.

In Washington, there are no fewer than 28 separate fines and fees (LFOs) that a judge may impose on a criminal defendant, depending on the offense and sentence. Twelve percent interest accrues on all unpaid legal debts from the date of sentencing. It is not surprising that the many people who are indigent at the time of sentencing quickly are overwhelmed by the debt.

cartoon by John Jonik



In a recent case discussed in the ACLU report, a Spokane man ended up spending 300 days in jail for failing to pay legal debts imposed in his criminal case—even though his original sentence was only 30 days in jail. The man had explained to the court that he had no way to pay because he was unemployed and homeless.

The ACLU report explains the devastating effects these debts have had on the lives of four Washington residents. It profiles “Lisa,” whose legal debts have grown to over $60,000 due to the state’s interest penalty on unpaid legal system debts. Though she has not reoffended in nine years, she was arrested and incarcerated four times because of unpaid LFOs. Twice she was jailed without being provided an attorney. And on one occasion she was locked up even though she told the judge that the lights in her apartment recently had been shut off because she didn’t have the money to pay her electricity bill.

Further, the ACLU report shows how imprisoning people who are unable to pay fines and court fees is counter-productive. Individuals struggling to re-enter society see their incomes reduced, their credit ratings worsen, their prospects for finding employment and housing diminish, and their chances of ending back in jail or prison increase.

Locking up indigent defendants for failing to pay their legal debts often ends up costing states and counties much more than they the government will recover. For example, a 38-year-old man in Washington state who has struggled with drug addiction and mental health problems since he was a teenager was jailed for two weeks in a county jail after missing $60 in monthly payments—at a cost to the county of more than $1,700.

In a study by the Brennan Center, eight of 15 states suspend driving privileges for missed legal debt payments, a practice that can make it impossible for people to work. And in all 15 states, criminal justice debt and associated collection practices can damage credit and interfere with other commitments, such as child support obligations.

The ACLU-WA supports passage of legislation that would move Washington State toward a more rational approach than "debtors’ prisons.” Legislation is needed not only to reduce the interest accruing on legal debts during periods of incarceration but also to limit incarceration for failure to pay when the defendant lacks the current ability to pay. Doing so would save counties the costs of jailing poor people, when there is no evidence that the jail time improves the person’s ability to pay and—more likely—makes it worse.

The ACLU and Brennan Center reports are available online at www.aclu-wa.org.


Bookmark and Share

Comments (4)

Please keep comments polite and related to the above page.



#1 - Kindsey - 01/08/2012 - 08:12
It's wodnefrul to have you on our side, haha!

#2 - dlljkmcr - 01/08/2012 - 11:10
bZnQLh plfhbtgcyvaf

#3 - emtbvgctj - 01/10/2012 - 10:31
tsOraR dakvvwuxvuox

#4 - jordan 11 gamma blue - 12/19/2013 - 20:02
it, which is a definite plus unless you find the iPhone too small for your palm.".
jordan 11 gamma blue http://www.apucvipp.org/webalizer/buygammablue11s.html

Name
E-mail (Will not appear online)
Comment
This comment form is powered by GentleSource Comment Script. It can be included in PHP or HTML files and allows visitors to leave comments on the website.