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Old 08-01-2009, 04:48 PM   #1
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Do some states really have a debtors prison?

So I just recently had a conversation with a friend of mine and she told me her step son, an adult, had done time in a debtors prison and my reaction was I thought those were banished ages ago. She tells me, not true, they have them in Texas, or at least they did in the past 40 or so years when the step son went. So this go me to thinking, do these places really exist in some states or is this family just trying to throw up a smoke screen? I've lived in NY, NJ and PA and never heard of one except in a history book and I personally think they are lying to her to cover up theft or something more insidious. Still, this is the US and I guess anything might be possible. Has anyone out there ever heard of them or is this family just messing with my friend?
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:02 PM   #2
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They exist in Nottingham. But that's where I come in and bust out the innocent and save the good people from tyranny.

Seriously though. I honestly can't say I've heard of them existing in this day & age, or else there would be a whole lot of people behind bars, including the majority of the folks running the country. Interesting thing to look into though, but I doubt they are out there now.
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:10 PM   #3
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I think parents who are delinquent on child support can go to jail in some states. Is it possible that's what he's in jail for?
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:12 PM   #4
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Debtors prison is how we got from the Articles of Confederation to the Constitution.

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Old 08-01-2009, 05:25 PM   #5
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Hmmm, no yesses so far, but it could be we're all from the North East. I'm very skeptical, but I'm also a lifelong Yankee. I'd like to hear from the south and midwest... this could be one of those regional differences we all hear about from time to time.

I don't think it was child support since from what I understand this guy is expecting his first child soon. But that is definitely a possibility if he fathered a child as a teen. But that's not a debtors prison is it, its regular prison? If this is what happened and my DF knew I think she'd tell me after all the other stuff she told me about the guy, he's quite a mess.
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:32 PM   #6
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i live in alabama and there's no debtor's prison here that i'm aware of. if you owe a substantial amount of back child support or restitution, you can be imprisoned, but that's just in a regular prison. i'm intrigued to hear from others about this, though.
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Old 08-01-2009, 05:40 PM   #7
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Family is covering something up. No debtor's prisons anywhere within the US.

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Old 08-01-2009, 05:51 PM   #8
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There are no debtors prisons in the U.S. A parent who is (consistently or very) deliquent on child-support payments can go to jail, but that's about it.

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Old 08-01-2009, 05:53 PM   #9
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I'm in Texas - there are no debtors prisons in Texas but you can go to jail for non-payment of child support.
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Old 08-01-2009, 06:48 PM   #10
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There are definitely no debtors prisons in Texas. I don't think that there every have been, certainly not since Reconstruction in the late 1800s. At that time, Texas became extremely hostile to debt collectors. Heck, we only started allowing home equity loans a few years ago because we didn't want creditors going after people's houses.

Florida and Texas are the two most popular states for rich people to declare bankruptcy in because they can shelter an unlimited amount of money in a primary residence. If I've a $10,000,000 house in Texas and I declare bankruptcy, no one can touch any of that home equity. The feds changed the minimum residency rules a few years ago, but the basic principal still applies. Texas is a state that is very friendly to debtors.
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Old 08-01-2009, 06:59 PM   #11
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I agree with the other posters. I have heard of jail time for owing child support, but that's about it.

I think the old debtors prisons go way back to when wealthy and powerful men would lend money or have delinquent renters and they were influential enough to have the thrown in prison. Kinda like today, but without the prison!

Then, there's the debt against society, but that's a different take on regular criminals.

I've never understood the logic of putting someone in jail for owing money since they can't earn money to pay the debt while they're in jail. I think that back in the day it had more to do with flexing power and control.

Now, taxes... well, let's not go there...
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Old 08-01-2009, 07:06 PM   #12
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Ah-ha! Thank you all, especially the Texans. I knew something wasn't right when she told me about this. I told her flat out I didn't think our Government allowed them any longer but she was pretty insistent and her conviction made me doubt myself. She's been there about a year (a re-married widow with 2 kids) and is originally from up north, like me. She's all alone down there and to be honest I'm a bit worried for her if she's being lied to like this. The worst part is, her new DH just had an alarm put in because this bad egg son gave a sweety pie phone call to say hi & ask them out for dinner. She thinks he wants to ask for a loan but I say it's trouble way bigger than that. Who ever heard of a father putting an alarm in when his son pops on the radar?

Now I just have to figure out how to work this little tid-bit of truth into a conversation without upsetting her. Poor thing has been through enough. Anyone have any ideas? It's an odd topic but I'm hoping she'll bring it up again thinking she didn't tell me that part yet.
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Old 08-01-2009, 07:51 PM   #13
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Here's more info than you probably want, but nonetheless, it's interesting to read the history behind it.
Gaol-pronounced jail is actually a French word according to the article meaning "cage".


There are no debtors prisons anywhere in the US for more than a hundred years.
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:51 PM   #14
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I've never heard of a debtors prison in the U.S.
Actually the first time I heard of such a thing was in Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit...
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Old 08-01-2009, 08:56 PM   #15
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Another Texan with a "nope."

Interesting thread...
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