In light of our recent blog post about debt collectors partnering with district attorneys’ offices and using DA letterhead to threaten prosecution to consumers who bounced checks, this blog entry from the Wall Street Journal is interesting. Jason Zweig provides a brief and insightful history of debtors’ prisons, noting that sentiments against jailing those in debt are found two decades before the Declaration of Independence was crafted. He notes that, in the first part of the 19th century, consumers were jailed for debts that would correlate to $25 today. At that time, 50,000 people were in jail for unpaid debts. The bottom line? In the 1800s, throwing people in jail didn’t result in increased collections. Doubtless, the same would hold true today.
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