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The Ludicrous Concept of Debtors’ Prison

by Erin B. Shank

Once upon a primitive time, an unpaid debt was considered a crime. Because of this, some medieval justice systems imposed laws allowing debtors to be imprisoned for failure or inability to pay what they owed. Thanks to modern laws, primitive debtors’ prisons are a thing of the past, and those facing financial struggle have a way out in the form of bankruptcy. But is our system regressing? It seems that some states have allowed unscrupulous creditors to sue debtors for amounts owed and when the debtors fail to show in court, they are jailed for failure to appear, in a sense, revisiting the ludicrous and primitive notion of a debtor’s prison.

Given modern bankruptcy laws, this practice is unfair and unreasonable. Debtors should have an opportunity to pay their debt, of, if qualified, to have that debt discharged. No other civil cases result in jail time; rather, monetary judgments are issued. So how can states such as Indiana, Tennessee, Illinois, and Washington get away with this? This question remains in the air, but hopefully, it is an issue that will be resolved and debtors will once again be treated fairly.

If you are facing a financial crisis and see no way out, grab yourself some peace of mind and contact a bankruptcy attorney today to find out what your options are and how to exercise your rights. Debt does not have to rule your life. Find out if you can restructure or discharge your debt and get back to life without the stress of impending financial ruin.

erin b shank

I have been practicing exclusively bankruptcy law in Texas for almost 40 years. Unlike most other law firms, my firm is exclusively dedicated to helping individuals and small businesses find a way out of their financial difficulties through the use of our nation’s bankruptcy laws.

Associations & Awards
  • Client Companion Award | Erin B. Shank
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  • Preeminent Award | Erin B. Shank
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