April 6, 2013
The Americans Civil Liberties Union on Friday revealed that courts in Ohio are illegally throwing poor people in jail for being unable to pay off a debt.
In a report titled, “The Outskirts of Hope,” PDF the ACLU shines a light on a harrowing “debtors’ prison” system in Ohio — one that violates both the United States’ and the Ohio constitution. Ohioans are being jailed for “as small as a few hundred dollars,” despite the constitutional violation, and the economic evidence that it costs the state more to pay for their jail sentence than the amount of the debt.
In its report, the ACLU details the stories of several people sent to debtors’ prison. Jack Dawley owed $1,500 in “fines and costs in the Norwalk Municipal Court,” and was behind on child support payments, leading the Ohio courts to send him to prison in Wisconsin for 3 and a half years. He still struggles with trying to repay the fines. Another victim of the system, single mother Tricia Metcalf, was taken to jail each and every time she wasn’t able to make her $50-a-month payments on fines for writing bad checks. Megan Sharp, whose husband is currently in jail on overdue fines, was unable to pay $300 in fines for driving on a suspended license and went to jail for 10 days. When she got out, she owed $200 more on top of the original amount. Both she and her husband are unemployed.
The AP has a round up of the charges that the ACLU levels against Ohio, writ large:
- In the second half of last year, more than one in every five of all bookings in the Huron County jail
- Originating from Norwalk Municipal Court cases — involved a failure to pay fines.
- In suburban Cleveland, Parma Municipal Court jailed at least 45 defendants for failure to pay fines and costs between July 15 and August 31, 2012.
- During the same period, Sandusky Municipal Court jailed at least 75 people for similar charges.
Court officials have pledged to look into the accusations.In 2011, ThinkProgress reported on how the deep recession and loss of employment had led to a return of debtor’s prisons. People were reportedly put in jail for something as small as missing a single furniture payment.
January 13, 2011
I have heard, I do not know, that trial attorneys are the ones most at risk to fall victim of depression, drug abuse and/or alcoholism. What I do know, is that I have heard of many trial lawyers suffering from this sort of diseases. It appears to be that it is simply a by-product of the type of work we do. This work is highly adversarial, highly contentious, petty and small things can get center-stage and become huge, anxiety about missing deadlines and due dates is ever present, errors that can occur as the result of being human consumes many attorneys into lying awake at night thinking about cases and on and on…
Once I was in the Daley Center, many years ago. I had recently graduated law school and I got onto the elevator going up. There was one other rider with me in the elevator and his body language told me that something was wrong, He was stooped forward, his head down, his clothes looked like he had slept in them… He did not look good. While pressing the button to the floor of his destination, he looked at me with eyes that were about to cry, and told me:”If I knew… I would have never chosen this profession.”
Steps to wellness: Lawyer launches Web site, support group for lawyers with depression (From The Buffalo Law Journal) “Lukasik has started the Web site www.lawyerswithdepression.com, and he also coordinated a support group for lawyers with depression that met for the first time June 1. Both resources are believed to be the first of their kind in New York state, and perhaps farther afield.”
We need something like this here in Illinois as well.
April 12, 2010
I have been reading that many who oppose the health care reform law do so because it takes power away from ordinary citizens and places decisions in the hands of government bureaucrats. Many of those people say that what is really needed is tort reform to stop large malpractice awards.
But advocating tort reform is saying that a jury of 12 ordinary people cannot be trusted to make a reasonable decision in a malpractice case, so government bureaucrats need to step in to correct them.
Let me get this straight. Government should not look over the shoulder of insurance companies (who have a vested interest in rates) but government should look over the shoulder of ordinary people (who have no vested interest in the outcome of a malpractice case)? Makes my head spin.
April 2, 2010
This article reviews the empirical literature on the effects of damages caps and concludes that the better-designed studies show that damages caps reduce liability insurance premiums. The effects of damages caps on defensive medicine, physicians location decisions, and the cost of health care to consumers are less clear. The only study of whether consumers benefit from lower health insurance premiums as a result of damages caps found no impact. Some state courts have based decisions declaring damages caps legislation unconstitutional on the lack of evidence of their effectiveness, thereby ignoring the findings of conflicting research studies or discounting their relevance. Although courts should be cautious in rejecting empirical evidence that caps are effective, legislators should consider whether they benefit consumers enough to justify limiting tort recoveries for those most seriously injured by malpractice.
March 31, 2010
“Hot Coffee reveals what really happened to Stella Liebeck, the Albuquerque woman who spilled coffee on herself and sued McDonald’s, while exploring how and why the case garnered so much media attention, who funded the effort and to what end. After seeing this documentary film, you will decide who really profited from spilling hot coffee.”
February 24, 2010
December 24, 2009
May you all have a happy and healthy season this year!
December 22, 2009
Health Insurance Stock At Highest Levels In A Year
Kill the Public Option and the Health Insurance Industry’s stocks soar!!! Obviously, the Insurance Industry cares a lot about the Public Option and even more obviously than that, it would have created a real competition without which, the profits will continue to soar!