Alabama Judge Shuts Down Private Debtors Prison

Thursday, July 19, 2012
Harpersville Mayor Theoangelo Perkins
The Alabama town of Harpersville has been accused of running a “debtors prison” and using its courts to commit extortion.
Circuit Judge Hub Harrington said he was appalled after finding out that the Harpersville Municipal Court and a private probation company, Judicial Corrections Services, were responsible for jailing people for failing to pay court fines and fees.
Having reviewed the lawsuit of Dana Burdette, an individual caught up in the legal web, Harrington put a stop to the practice, which he said amounted to a “judicially sanctioned extortion racket.” Besides ending up behind bars, a person who failed to pay a $200 fine on time could end up owing $2,100.
In addition to taking over all cases in Harpersville involving people jailed for failing to pay court fines and fees, Harrington ordered the city’s mayor, Theoangelo Perkins, and its four other town council members to attend an injunction hearing next month and future court hearings in the case.
“Most distressing is that these abuses have been perpetrated by what is supposed to be a court of law,” Harrington wrote. “Disgraceful.”
The judge ordered the city to give defendants at least 30 days to pay initial fines and fees, and that he must approve all future orders to jail defendants.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
To Learn More:
Dana Burdette v. Town of Harpersville (Circuit Court, Shelby County, Alabama) (pdf)

Debtors’ Prisons Make a Comeback…in the U.S. (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov) 


Ahma Daeus 12 years ago
incarcerating people "for profit" is in a word....wrong! the mere presence of a private “for profit” driven prison business in our country undermines the u.s constitution and subsequently the credibility of the american criminal justice system. in fact, until all private prisons in america have been abolished and outlawed, “the promise” of fairness and justice at every level of this country’s judicial system will remain unattainable. we must restore the principles and the vacant promise of our judicial system. our government cannot continue to "job-out" its obligation and neglect its duty to the individuals confined in the correctional and rehabilitation facilities throughout this nation, nor can it ignore the will of the people that it was designed to serve and protect. please support the national public service council to abolish private prisons (npsctapp) with a show of solidarity by signing "the single voice petition" please visit our website for further information: –ahma daeus "practicing humanity without a license"…

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