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When medical debt collectors decide who gets arrested

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“Welcome to Coffeyville, Kansas, where the judge has no law degree, debt collectors get a cut of the bail, and Americans are watching their lives — and liberty — disappear in the pursuit of medical debt collection.”

 

https://features.propublica.org/medical-debt/when-medical-debt-collectors-decide-who-gets-arrested-coffeyville-kansas/

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Common thread among those arrested was the same as the idiots who whine about being jailed over unpaid traffic tickets...they couldn't be bothered to show up for court and/or abide by the very Agreements they had entered into with the Court.  Applying cash bond to unpaid fees/fines is not uncommon in ANY jurisdiction on the criminal side of the docket, so it should not be viewed as out of place on the civil side.  

 

From the article..."Though the district does not track how many of these cases end in arrest, I found more than 30 warrants issued against medical debt defendants. At least 11 people were jailed in the past year alone." So, less than three warrants per month, with perhaps one a month on average who actually saw a booking desk.  Big effing deal.  Step up and assume a modicum of responsibility...don't blow off court appearances and you don't go to jail.

 

Another instance cited: " She imagined what she would tell her boss: I went to jail … because I missed a court date … for medical bills. It sounded absurd." Yes, it IS absurd that her employer might actually expect an employee to be accountable.  Missing a court date, in this instance, was her OWN FAULT.  If she shows up on the correct date, it is a moot point because jail would never have been a part of her life...

 

"He suggested that the judge could fix this by charging extra legal fees; Casement wrote a new policy explaining that anyone who missed two debtor’s exam hearings without a good reason would be ordered to pay an extra $50 to cover the plaintiff’s attorney fees. If they didn’t pay, they would be given a two-day jail sentence; for each additional hearing that they missed, they would be charged a higher attorney fee and get a longer sentence." Guess what...plenty of people spend time in a jail cell laying out fines on traffic and criminal matters.  Why should contempt be ANY different.  It is NOT difficult to stay out of jail.  And guess what else...if the individual was sued as a regular civil claim, attorney fees would be included in the award entered by the Court after finding for the Plaintiff.  This is NO different.  

 

I actually liked the notion of keying the bond to the amount at controversy, something the judge declined to do.  It is not at all uncommon, for example and using theft cases, to see bonds here set at twice an amount of the theft.  Well, at least it was before the whiners claimed that requiring bail to ensure a defendant appears was some sort of a violation of their rights and so now we have sky-rocketing rates of non-appearance. 

 

This article is yet another effort to try and take stories out of context to create sympathy for the irresponsible and to try and make people believe that just wiping debts off the books should become a commonplace practice.  EFF THAT!

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I find the whole thing kind of Dickensian, and the practice of dragging these victims of circumstances into court every three months for a humiliating debtors exam reprehensible and abusive. 

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