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You committed no crime, but an officer is knocking on your door. More Minnesotans are surprised to find themselves being locked up over debts.

Home Investigators Hounded: Minnesotans in Debt In jail for being in debt Article by: CHRIS SERRES and GLENN HOWATT , Star Tribune staff writers Updated: March 17, 2011 - 4:40 PM You committed no crime, but an officer is knocking on your door. More Minnesotans are surprised to find themselves being locked up over debts. 695 comments decrease font size resize text increase font size print buy reprints Share As a sheriff's deputy dumped the contents of Joy Uhlmeyer's purse into a sealed bag, she begged to know why she had just been arrested while driving home to Richfield after an Easter visit with her elderly mother. No one had an answer. Uhlmeyer spent a sleepless night in a frigid Anoka County holding cell, her hands tucked under her armpits for warmth. Then, handcuffed in a squad car, she was taken to downtown Minneapolis for booking. Finally, after 16 hours in limbo, jail officials fingerprinted Uhlmeyer and explained her offense -- missing a court hearing over an unpaid debt. "They have no right to do this to me," said the 57-year-old patient care advocate, her voice as soft as a whisper. "Not for a stupid credit card." It's not a crime to owe money, and debtors' prisons were abolished in the United States in the 19th century. But people are routinely being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts. In Minnesota, which has some of the most creditor-friendly laws in the country, the use of arrest warrants against debtors has jumped 60 percent over the past four years, with 845 cases in 2009, a Star Tribune analysis of state court data has found. Not every warrant results in an arrest, but in Minnesota many debtors spend up to 48 hours in cells with criminals. Consumer attorneys say such arrests are increasing in many states, including Arkansas, Arizona and Washington, driven by a bad economy, high consumer debt and a growing industry that buys bad debts and employs every means available to collect. Whether a debtor is locked up depends largely on where the person lives, because enforcement is inconsistent from state to state, and even county to county. In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments. In extreme cases, people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment. In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Ill., man "to indefinite incarceration" until he came up with $300 toward a lumber yard debt.

Thoughts ladies????

Answer Question

Asked by mrssundin at 7:44 PM on Jul. 3, 2011 in Politics & Current Events

Level 19 (6,722 Credits)
Answers (34)
  • WOW...... Speechless!

    Answer by Anonymous at 7:46 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • How can they come up with the money if they are locked away in jail? It makes no sense. This is why debtor's prison was abolished in the first place!

    Answer by hopeandglory53 at 7:51 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • That's awful! I agree with hopeandglory53- How the heck are they supposed to come up with money while they are locked up? It's not like they can go to work.

    Answer by lovingmy4babies at 7:55 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • I agree with hopeandglory53. This makes no sense.

    Answer by clumm at 7:55 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • its pretty much JUST LIKE CHILDSUPPORT.. dont pay ur ex you go to jail. dont pay ur bills you go to jail..

    Answer by Anonymous at 8:02 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • I can think of a bunch of other people who deserve to spend time behind bars then someone who can't afford to pay their debts. Thats crap. I agree with hopeandglory.

    Answer by myownhappiness at 8:02 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • Yes, I read about that back in March in our paper. Its crazy.

    Answer by minnesotanice at 8:07 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • To the ANON's know jail i know of pays any money, Prisons do yes but not jails. So how does them sitting in Jail get rid of the debt in fact it just adds more since most Jails charge you while you are there room and board..

    Comment by mrssundin (original poster) at 8:09 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • sorry but that's a joke.. if you want to lock up someone for some unpaid debt, lock up our government, they are the WORSE debtors out there..

    and HOW does it teach you a lesson? I mean seriously, if you are in debt, you KNOW you are in debt. They can take your car, your house, etc. How is jail going to make YOU learn when you've already lost everything else?
    and if they are taking you to jail BEFORE that, then there is even a bigger issue.. because they are wasting tax payers money to do something that shouldn't even be an issue with the jailhouse. Not to mention what happens with kids if they are involved, or the countless other issues that are wrong with this. (such as job loss etc).

    There are PLENTY of other avenues they could take to "teach a lesson".. garnished wages, confiscation of house, car, etc.
    If they REALLY want to take you to court over it, I'm sure they could arrange a work off program as well.

    Answer by xxhazeldovexx at 8:12 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

  • but jail is definitely NOT the answer, nor will it help "teach a lesson"

    Answer by xxhazeldovexx at 8:13 PM on Jul. 3, 2011

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