July 3rd, 2012
By John Boudette -- The privatization of public utilities and services bring with it the attendant problems of turning the commons into for
profit businesses. People suddenly vulnerable to loss of water, power, trash and 0ther services as private companies with profit only motif replacing the serve the constituents modality of public utilities cause stress and the desperation of despair and cause the breakdown of normal behavior norms in communities across the country.
One of the latest is the scenario of a person getting stopped for routine traffic violation, fined a fairly onerous amount, and -
- unable to pay the fine -- people skip the court date of the "pay-by" date on the fine. Failure to pay results in the delinquent fine being turned over to a private company to collect and administer the processes related to the fine. The private companies often commit as part of their proposal that they will contribute to a significant increase in revenue for the government entity. They do this by charging large fines and fees for processing and handling the cases given them. In many cases their agreements permit jailing people as an incentive to pay their fines, so people end of in jail due to their inability to pay their fines. Then, while they are in jail, they are often charged per deim fees, like a hotel or hostel, for the time they are in jail. So, ironically, people go to jail because they can't pay t heir fees or fines, and then, because they are being housed in private prisons or jails, they are charged a per diem fee for the day in jail -- resulting in the arrested person continuing to accrue daily jail charges every day they are in jail -- which they also cannot pay.
The result is that the penalty for being poor is that you go to prison. Because you are in prison, you get poorer by the day from the fees and
day charges for your incarceration. Because you get poorer -- and are not able to earn money because you are in jail -- you are held in jail longer because the amount you owe just keep growing. You are forced into a descending spiral of debt, inability to pay, added to increasing debt -- with the result being that because you are unable to pay in the beginning you are thrust into a cycle in which your inability to pay gets worse every day -- so you are incarcerated longer. So -- cruel and unusual punishment turns into a vicious cycle of increasing poverty and less personal empowerment. Never ending and increasingly incarceration causing increasing and never-ending poverty -- causing imprisonment and increasing poverty without end. It's cruel, undemocratic, disempowering, and must be stopped. It is dangerous and unconstitutionally predatory and oppressive.