Quick Hits – Let’s go back to debtor’s prison and coerced confessions!

Silly me! I though Republicans had cornered the market on truly terrible political ideas! Just 120,000 troops to the Middle East? What could possibly go wrong with that?

Not to be outdone, the predominantly Democratic Will County Board is considering something that would make their GOP counterparts green with envy! They want to sue former inmates for the cost of their incarceration.

Hmmm! Forcing people to pay for being held against their will? That sounds an awful lot like a ransom demand to me.

Prison costs

And what a wonderful way to encourage recidivism! Put the ex-con, who already can’t get a job, behind the financial eight ball from square one. That way, you can ensure a continuous revenue stream by reincarcerating them and filing yet another lawsuit.

The impetus for this utterly irrational Will County initiative is, finally realizing that cash bonds, court fees, and fines have gotten completely out of control and disproportionally affect minorities, the Illinois General Assembly is spearheading a drive to standardize and reduce those bonds, fines and fees.

That, of course, begs the question, with the exception of Chairman Lauzen and Kane County, has any predominantly Republican Collar County ever considered holding the line on taxes, much less reducing them?

To be fair, most of the court cost, fee, and fine edicts emanate directly from Springfield, but as Will County just demonstrated, our local counties aren’t above adding their own brand of larceny into the mix.

And it starts with the fact that your circuit clerk gets to steal ten percent of your bond regardless of innocence or guilt. A judge regaled me with a tale of how he insisted that an exonerated defendant get every last penny of his $150,000 bond back, only to discover that 15 grand would be skimmed off the top because the statute gave him no leeway to return it.

There’s nothing quite like State sanctioned embezzlement, is there?

And that’s if you can even make bond which many minorities can’t. So, until very recently, those folks would rot in jail for two months or more waiting for the disposition of a case that would never put them in jail to begin with.

So, they lose their jobs and have to turn to “alternative” means of income when they are finally released.

If you make a deal or are found guilty, the court costs, fees and fine can run into the hundreds of dollars for a simple traffic violation. Please tell me why a DUI sentence should ever include $100 to an outside group like Mothers Against Drunk Driving? That’s nothing more than an outright shakedown.

It’s no better in civil court, either.

Filing a simple $2,500 small claims court suit in Kane County will run you $200. I understand we want to deter frivolous lawsuits and you get your court costs back if you win, but those kinds of absurdly high fees deter justice, too.

If you avail yourself of the full weight of the Kane County civil court system, your attorney will have to pay a $230 appearance fee “tax” just to walk through that courtroom door. How is that possibly jusitifiable?

The judge got it wrong – and they get it wrong all the time – and you want to file an appeal? Not so fast Sparky! First you have to fork over hundreds of dollars to the circuit clerk to have a low-lever staffer copy the court files. Then you have to pay thousands of dollars to court services to get the trial transcripts.

Since going before an appellate court pro se is pure folly, count on at least five grand for an attorney, and if they make the most minuscule formatting error in the brief, those fun-loving Second District Appeals Court judges will throw it out without a second thought.

And if you do prevail, please don’t think for a second that circuit court judge will refund your legal fees for completely screwing the whole thing up.

Having covered (and been through) the court system for 13 long years, the truly fascinating thing is, if you walk into any non-felony Kane County court call, despite the fact that Elgin and Aurora have their own branch courts and our County is 75 percent white, two-thirds of the defendants are always black and Hispanic.

That makes absolutely no sense because I’ve seen how most of you Caucasians behave.

The Collar County court systems have become nothing more than an institutionalized extortion racket intent on propping up old white male prosecutors and judges on the backs of minorities who already started 25 yards behind the rest of us in the human race. And most judges can’t even be bothered to work a full day.

Like I said, Illinois is trying to change this BS, but faster than you can say the word “reform” counties like Will are putting the onus right back on the people who can least afford it. And that County Board is virtually bragging about it.

And by the way! If Will county jails what turns out to be an innocent defendant pending trial, are they going to pay them for all that lost time? The legal sword cuts both ways!

So, why stop at suing inmates for their incarceration? Why bother with any pretense whatsoever? Let’s go right back to debtors’ prison, lopping off thieves’ hands, and torture generated confessions. Shame on every last Will County Board member for even considering this kind of abjectly cruel institutional abuse.

7 thoughts on “Quick Hits – Let’s go back to debtor’s prison and coerced confessions!

  1. Do you think that the paper work done by the clerk is about the same for processing a two hundred dollar bond as opposed to a two hundred thousand bound? So why the extra “penalty” for doing same thing? Of course seizing your Bentley or your 24 year old camaro because of drugs is not a punishment. Dog hits on Hispanics are right 24% of time but everyone thinks that is fine. Jail a public defender client for not paying a fine ok. Hey judge he is a PD client by definition he has no money
    And IDOC can charge for incarceration so not surprised Jails want to. Also heard Cook County jail populations down by have and state moving to cashless bonds. So how many corrections officers let go but more interestingly how many jail administrators PR staff and flunked let go. Guess your next post answers that

  2. Don’t forget about the lawyers who send out letters to get criminal clients, take their retainer, then tell their clients they will have to hire a “trial attorney” if they want to take their case to trial. Pleading their clients is much easier than having to work to put on a trial.

  3. M: often times a trial tax. State over charges drops if you plea. Anyone with a background will take two years on a plea as opposed to the “tax” of 15 years for making a judge work.

  4. I will say this again. Courts are mostly about the money, not about justice.

  5. This is deplorable. To your point, when incarcerated individuals are released from prison the odds of landing a job are already stacked against them but to add this penalty too? Our justice system is so unfair to the under privileged. While I don’t agree with Bernie Sanders on a lot of issues (and I think he is partially to blame for the outcome of our last election) I am glad he is outspoken about voting rights for prisoners and the former incarcerated population.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s