Let’s dispense, if for only a moment, the fact that debtor’s prisons were outlawed a long, long time ago in this country.  Let’s forget for a just a moment that you’re not supposed to be imprisioned for failure to pay a debt.

Let’s talk about the disgrace that is a number of Judges in Berks County, Pennsylvania who believe for one moment that keeping people in prison due solely to the fact that they are indigent is a worthwhile idea for anyone… the prisoner, the children, or society as a whole.

As they could not afford legal representation and very likely due to the likelihood that they had no idea what they were up against in family court, these men were jailed for failure to pay child support that they allegedly had no ability to pay at the time of their incarceration.

From the article:

Berks County Judge Timothy J. Rowley, who presides over support cases, said state law does not require the court to provide lawyers for such cases.

It must be nice to have such power to wield over the little people of the world.  6 have been released, 5 were returned to jail, and 7 have hearings pending.

In Family Court, the hope is that a person who is in a bind regarding finances, particularly in this abysmal economy, will find a way to pay the support once the full force of the “legal process” is brought to bear on them in an effort to shake them, their families, and their friends down in order to stave off incarceration.

From the article:

Linda F. Epes, director of Berks domestic relations, said the bulk of the defendants will pay support once the legal process begins.

Of course they do.  They’ll beg people to help them out to avoid being illegally imprisoned for failing to pay a debt!  And if they can’t – put them in jail!  That will help them find jobs, pay their child support obligation, and be productive members of society.  Maybe we’ll even start turning out drug dealers and other real criminals to make room for them!

For the full article: Berks judges ask Supreme Court to keep child support inmates jailed