The Shackles Return: Why Debtors’ Prisons Are Making An American Comeback

Devon Douglas-Bowers Activist Post The debtors’ prison is an old, decrepit institution that many thought was abolished in the 19th century, something little more than a relic of the past. This is a problematic view for two reasons. One, debtors’ prisons are rarely explored in the classroom or the larger society. And two, these prisons are making a serious comeback in the United States, which is deeply problematic for the poor and working class. The History of Debtors’ Prisons The traditional view of debtors’ prisons in the U.S. is one of wretched incarceration where debtors were hung out to dry. While this is true, there is also more to the story. In early colonial America, English law had an influence on colonial law – and laws regarding debt. In 16th century England, creditors had the legal power via the Law of Merchant to regain their money from insolvent debtors. […] Read More