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Debtors’ Prisons

Georgia is one of the original 13 colonies. It was founded, at least in part, by people who were released from debtors’ prison and sent to America to a dangerous and hard life of manual labor until the debt was repaid. Because of the bitterness of that legacy, the United States CLAIMS to have abolished debtors’ prisons, but I think we simply have changed the form they now take.

Increasingly, states have outsourced the prison system to for-profit companies. Let that idea sink in a moment. These are corporations that NEED more prisoners to make money. What an impossible bias that fact alone sets up for the justice system. This is just ONE of the reasons the United States imprisons a higher percentage of its citizens than any other country on earth.

Now, you may be thinking that these folks aren’t in prison because they are poor or indebted, but you would be VERY wrong. An incredibly large portion of those in prison would not be there if they were wealthy and had the means to hire good lawyers. In addition, people are thrown in jail when they cannot pay their fines. (The most pernicious practice.) Before you give in to feeling smug, think of how many tickets–parking or speeding–you have paid. Imagine if you had to choose between buying food for your kids and painting your house to bring it up to code. What if you had to buy medicine for your mother, which left you without the money to repair your car so it will pass inspection? We aren’t talking about rapists and murderers. America’s jails are filled with people who are there because they are poor.

We live in a nation that has unlimited money for war and to build more prisons, but we can’t seem to find the funds to support public education. Of course, that couldn’t be because the overwhelming majority of the children and grandchildren of politicians go to private schools, who then rig the system to ensure that we have a permanent underclass who, when they make a mistake, get thrown into a FOR-PROFIT prison system. This can’t be debtor’s prison, though, because we are a Christian nation and don’t have those. Right.

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