Thursday, July 30, 2015

Wait, what?! There's a debtors' prison...in Montgomery County?

There's a debtors' prison in Montgomery County.

Wait, what?! There's a debtors' prison...in Montgomery County?

0 comments

This is exceptional, America:

Anna Lisa Wodarski made a call to District Court 38-1-15 in Norristown the day after she learned there's a bench warrant out for her arrest. She hadn't responded to an open container ticket she received back in 2012. Now, she would like to get the warrants lifted until she has money to pay the fine.

The woman on the phone told her she would need to come in with the $50 fee for a hearing, visibly frustrating Wodarski.

She turned away and whispered, "This is why I want a drink." It's a half joke. She's a recovering alcoholic living in transitional housing for women on probation. She still reports to a probation officer for an old drug conviction.

Judge Francis Lawrence has already sent Wodarski to jail six times in the past over unpaid fines and court costs. She's served a combined two months, costing Montgomery County taxpayers more than $3,000. 

Some great reporting here by Emma Jacobs of WHYY Newsworks, who finds this type of move is common from this Montco district judge and that jailing people over small fines and debts is increasingly common across Pennsylvania. You could ask yourself whether this even makes sense, to deprive someone of their liberty and charge taxpayers more to incarcerate them than the amount of money that they owe. But you don't even have to ask yourself that, because this kind of debtors'; prison isn't just immoral, but it's flat-out illegal. That this happens in America in 2014 is unconscionable.

0 comments
We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue.
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines.

Comment policy:

Philly.com comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by Philly.com staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Read 0 comments
 
comments powered by Disqus
About this blog
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, blogs about his obsessions, including national and local politics and world affairs, the media, pop music, the Philadelphia Phillies, soccer and other sports, not necessarily in that order.

PLEASE COMMENT WITH PASSION...

...but not with racial slurs, potentially libelous allegations, obscenities or other juvenile noise. Such comments will, at our discretion, be deleted in their entirety, and repeat offenders will be blocked from commenting. ALSO: Any commenter advocating killing any government official will be immediately banned.

Reach Will at bunchw@phillynews.com.

Will Bunch
Also on Philly.com
letter icon Newsletter