Secret hearings with no transcripts

In more news from the Moral Squalor Files – the ACLU is suing an Arkansas county for setting up a debtors’ prison.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the City of Sherwood, its district court judge, and Pulaski County. The suit claims they’re violating a person’s due process rights, and preying on the poor, by creating a never-ending spiral in hot check cases.

This lawsuit claims that the Sherwood courts are trapping people into a never-ending spiral of repetitive court proceedings and ever-increasing debt, adding it’s been happening for the past 25 years or so.

Squalid though we are, we don’t allow debtors’ prisons.

“In this country, you cannot be jailed if you cannot pay your debts. That’s called debtors’ prison and that’s something we did away with some 200 years ago,” said Rita Sklar, ACLU of Arkansas Executive Director.

The suit is on behalf of four people who were convicted of “hot check crimes.”

“A single bounced check written 10 years ago for $15 can be leveraged into a debt of thousands and thousands of dollars in fines and fees for inability to pay the original check and then inability to pay the payments that were set up,” added Sklar.

It goes on to say the hot check court hearings held every Thursday are held in secret, with no transcripts available and closed off to the public. It also adds that hot check defendants are unknowingly signing a waiver of counsel because they’re told they must fill the form out to enter the courtroom.

Well that doesn’t sound at all suspect.

You can read the lawsuit on the article.

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