Legally Brief: Is Debtor’s Prison a Real Thing?

No, it’s not a Charles Dickens novel – debtor’s prisons are increasingly real. Hoosiers who bounce a check, fall behind in rent, or owe even a few dollars can find themselves arrested and thrown in jail, according to a new report by the American Civil Liberties Union released this week that examines the rise of debtor’s prisons in the United States. 

The report, A Pound of Flesh: The Criminalization of Private Debt, details that although Congress outlawed debtor’s prisons in 1833, people across the country are being arrested and jailed or threatened with jail because they owe money. 


1 in 3 Americans has a debt that has been turned over to a private collection agency.


One #LegallyBrief note for domestic violence advocates: Indiana Courts have held that judges cannot order someone to find a job, and they must respect that some income is not to be considered in one’s ability to pay (such as disability income). 

Need to know more? Ask me how.

-Kerry Hyatt Bennett, JD