Monday, April 17, 2017

Memory Hole Monday: Debtor's Prison in Ma$$achu$etts

It's what started Shay's Rebellion, but I see no evidence of such an uprising today.

"Scores of indebted become ‘fine-time’ inmates" by Milton J. Valencia Globe Staff  November 07, 2016

They call it “fine-time” — a questionable practice in which defendants “pay off” court fines and fees by serving time behind bars, even if they never committed a crime deserving of jail time in the first place.

A sampling of cases in Massachusetts from last year showed more than 100 instances in which defendants were sent to jail because they could not afford to pay a fine, a practice first laid bare in the federal investigation into the criminal justice system in Ferguson, Mo., two years ago, sparking outcries of discrimination in that state.

Senator Michael Barrett, a Democrat from Lexington and chairman of the Committee on Post Audit and Oversight, said the review raised troubling questions about the state’s dependence on revenue from the poor, through the imposition of fees and fines — with stiff enforcement designed to make people pay up.

So they can give it to GE, Hollywood, and any other well-connected corporate concern (and even give themselves a raise, too).

“We do this in the name of punishment, but it turns out to be a nifty business in terms of revenue generation, and we’ve grown too fond of what it pulls in,” said Barrett, an attorney by trade. “It’s a money-making sideline, run by the criminal justice system. The money comes out of the hides of not only poor offenders who have to get their lives back on track, but also the families of poor offenders. . . . We need to descale the hunt for revenue to sustain the court system.”

This as the court system revenue is still being cut (they all got pay raises, though, to immunize statehouse slime).

“I’m not suggesting all fees go away. I think there’s a place for fines and fees in the fullness of things,” Barrett said. “Some people can feel the sting, and still pay it, but for some people this is more than a sting. It means you can’t pay rent for the month. That’s what we’re finding in these cases.”

The review also found that judges failed to appoint lawyers for defendants — who had already been declared indigent — when considering whether to send them to jail for failure to pay fines, a potential violation of their constitutional right to counsel.

And this is in deep blue Ma$$achu$etts.

Cassandra Bensahih, executive director of the Worcester-based advocacy group Ex-Prisoners and Prisoners Organized for Community Advancement, said the report shows the cycle of hardships that many low-income people face, in which they can’t get a job because of past encounters with the criminal justice system, and so they can’t pay their fines.

“When they can’t find employment, can’t find jobs, what are they to do?” she said....

Pick up a government check and let the robots do the work. Seems to be where we are headed if they don't get rid of us all first.



No place in Mass. for prisoners of poverty

Bill offered by Baker would put an end to ‘fine time’

Also see: Wrongly convicted in Mass.? Good luck getting compensation

"In a rare move, the judicial office that brings disciplinary cases against lawyers in Massachusetts has accused a prosecutor, Laura Marshard, an assistant district attorney on Martha’s Vineyard, of professional misconduct, including allegations that she failed to share critical information with defense lawyers and attempted to interfere with defense witnesses...." 

More common than you would think; who makes their job harder?