Debtors' prisons have made a huge comeback. Hooray?
When Harriet Cleveland opened her door one morning, the last thing she expected to see was a cop.
And when she did, it didn't even cross her mind that he might be there for her because the only thing she had done was get a traffic ticket.
Except he was.
Since Harriet didn't have enough money to pay her ticket, the court handed the collection responsibility over to a private company that slapped enormous fees onto the cost. Every time she tried to pay off the ticket, all the money she handed over went to cover the fees, not the ticket itself. And the fees kept increasing anyway. Eventually, she had to decide between paying the fees and covering her food and utilities.
So she gave up. And she went to jail.
The worst part? She's not alone. Not even close.
Debtors prisons' — throwing people in jail for owing money — are theoretically illegal. The federal government outlawed them in 1833, and most states followed shortly thereafter. And yet, shady cities and towns across America are bringing them back.