News that Gets My Goat
I found this story in a comment string on Juanita Jean’s World’s Most Dangerous Beauty Salon. The reader was commenting on Danny Goeb’s (can’t help myself, that’s State Senator and Lieutenant Governor candidate Dan Patrick’s original name) answer to questions about his bankruptcy; “We don’t have debtor’s prisons in America.” And good thing for him, that; he may be a darling of the Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse crowd, but Patrick and those who have done business with him are certainly no strangers to the courtroom.
Anyways, the CBS story reports that “Thousands of Americans are sent to jail not for committing a crime, but because they can't afford to pay for traffic tickets, medical bills and court fees.
“If that sounds like a debtors' prison, a legal relic which was abolished in this country in the 1830s, that's because it is. And courts and judges in states across the land are violating the Constitution by incarcerating people for being unable to pay such debts.”
The story goes on to tell of folks around the country ending up behind bars because ‘they ain’t got that do-re-mi,’ and tells of some possible remedies;
“poor defendants should be exempt from court fees and fines, while repayment plans should be set according to people's ability to repay a debt. States also must have clear written standards for determining a person's ability to pay. Fees for public defenders should be eliminated.”
And what can we ourselves do about this? Notice the four mentions in the article of the American Civil Liberties Union defending poor defendants up against the law. Annual membership in the Texas A.C.L.U. begins at $35 per year.