February 01, 2015

For-Profit Companies Are Helping to Put People In Jail for Being Poor: I was jailed for five days simply because I couldn't afford to pay $838 in traffic fines and fees to DeKalb County and a private probation company called Judicial Correction Services, Inc

In December, I was jailed for five days simply because I couldn't afford to pay $838 in traffic fines and fees to DeKalb County and a private probation company called Judicial Correction Services, Inc.
It sounds unbelievable, but that's exactly what happened.
Last summer, I got a traffic ticket just after I pulled my car out of the driveway of my home in Decatur, Georgia. I had no idea that this ticket would eventually land me in the DeKalb County Jail for being poor.
That day, I also didn't know that my driver's license had been suspended. I later learned that it had been suspended because I forgot to submit a form to the Georgia Department of Driver Services after resolving charges related to a minor traffic violation (I missed a "no left turn" sign and appeared late to my court hearing).

In October, the DeKalb County Recorders Court ordered me to pay $810 in fines related to the ticket. When I told the judge that I could not afford to pay $810 that day, she put me on "probation" with Judicial Correction Services (JCS) and told me that I had 30 days to pay. Like other people who couldn't afford to pay fines on sentencing day, I was on "pay-only" probation. My driver's license was also suspended for another six months.
I did everything I could to pay my court fines and the fees JCS charged me for "probation." Because my license was suspended, I could no longer earn money through paid tow truck driving training, which I had done before. I did odd jobs for an auto shop while looking for work and borrowed money from my mom, sister, and grandmother to pay what I could.
But it wasn't enough.
When my 30 days were almost up, I went to see my JCS officer. She charged me with violating probation for failure to pay court fines and JCS fees. She also failed to tell me that I had a right to request a court-appointed lawyer at my probation revocation hearing. Instead, she said I would have to pay $150 for a public defender, even though the fee is $50 and can be waived for poor people. I didn't have the money to pay, so I didn't request a lawyer.
I dressed in slacks and a dress shirt that I borrowed from my dad, since I didn't have my own, and I went to court with my mother for my probation revocation hearing. I hoped the judge might give me an extension of time to pay or community service because I was trying my best to pay. Instead, the judge immediately asked to hear from the JCS officer next to her, who recommended sentencing me to 10 days in jail if I couldn't pay my balance that day. I begged the judge to help me get a permit so that I could drive for work and to give me some more time to pay. Instead she sentenced me to nine days in jail.
I was stunned. I couldn't believe what happened.
All of a sudden, I realized that my mom was going to see me put in handcuffs and taken to jail. I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I asked the judge if I could hug my mom. The judge said no. As I was handcuffed and taken to a cage behind the courtroom, I began to cry.
I spent five days in the DeKalb County Jail where it was cold and dirty, and I didn't get enough food. I felt ashamed, scared, and sad during those five days. It hurt to be separated from my family. And even after I was released, I felt scared that police might arrest me and jail me again for no good reason. After all DeKalb County and JCS essentially jailed me for being poor.


  1. Once you are in the system, it is very tough to get out. You must cross every T and dot every I and do it on time! One infraction not properly resolved can lead to another then a host of others and finally disaster. Don't give the courts a reason to come after you, because they will! Take no chances, many jurisdictions now use the model "policing for profit" - don't get caught up in it!!!!

  2. Apply for a poo'lice training'no more arrests after landing a good job.

  3. Now you get to sue DeKalb county for millions for violating your civil rights. Debtors prisons are illegal under federal law. They violated your 5th amendment right by denying you counsel, they violated your 7th amendment right for a civil trial by jury. They also violated your rights under the 8th amendment because you didn't choose not to pay, you couldn't . That IS NOT a crime, certainly in a civil case. You my friend are going to make a bundle and 100% tax free BTW because it's damages. You are most welcome.

  4. Are you born into wealth?

    Well, America is a dreamland for you, come see all the laws you do not have to adhere to and all the fantastic things you get to have and enjoy!

    Are you poor?

    No American Dream for you, no nothing, endless rules, laws and restrictions because we are a Christian Nation founded on the principles of Jesus' teachings so the poor are not welcomed here.

  5. Don't worry my friend, these debtor prisons will have run out of money well before the poor already have!

  6. No judicial branch court possesses in personam jurisdiction on the
    basis of a ticket or citation. Procedural due process was developed
    to insure that substantive due process is observed. Substantive due
    process is found in the fourth article in amendment to the
    constitution which states that "no warrant shall issue but upon
    probable cause supported by oath or affirmation" and a summons
    is nothing more than a polite form of a warrant. A ticket may qualify
    as a complaint satisfying the requirement of an oath or affirmation.
    but where is the probable cause hearing and subsequent finding of
    probable cause?

    Most people consider a ticket to be a summons, but does it satisfy
    the procedural requirements of a summons? A criminal summons must be
    signed by the issuing magistrate. No matter which way you turn that
    ticket, the only signatures you will find are yours and the officers.

    What if the ticket is styled as a civil matter? A civil summons
    must be signed by the clerk of court. Again, no signature.

    How do they get around this requirement of substantive due
    process? When you step up to the clerks window to take care of your
    ticket, the clerk will ask "how do you plead?" If you plead
    either guilty or not guilty, you have implicitly recognized the
    jurisdiction of the court and waived your right to procedural due
    process. So, what should you do? You must make a special appearance,
    as opposed to a general appearance, for the purpose of challenging
    the jurisdiction of the court. You may not go to the merits of the
    case. It is the duty of the plaintiff, not the judge, to place
    sufficient facts upon the record to demonstrate jurisdiction. Because
    there is no procedurally proper summons in evidence before the court,
    in-personam jurisdiction has not been perfected by the court. Motion
    the court to dismiss the complaint for want of jurisdiction.