Debtors’ Prisons

A couple of months ago a friend of mine got a $450 parking ticket. Yes, Seattle is one of the most expensive places in the country to live, and parking is definitely at a premium, but that is ridiculous. That would constitute 5 weeks’ worth of groceries for me. It’s safe to say that a lot of people would find this to be quite a hardship.

I was discussing this with a coworker and he told me something very interesting. If you get ticketed in many parts of this country, they subcontract the parking tickets to a private agency, and much of your ticket is actually processing fees for that agency.

If you are unable to pay your ticket, you have very little recourse. Penalties will pile up, making any chance of a payoff even further out of your reach. Eventually, you could be facing the loss of your license or even jail time. For a parking ticket.

This is a system that is unfairly weighted against people in the lower pay scales. A rich person would flick this away as if it were a minor inconvenience and move on. But a poor person who makes the same exact parking mistake in an often incomprehensible system can find himself being fingerprinted and cavity searched. How is that fair?

First of all, at least here in Seattle, they need to increase the number of parking spaces for its citizens. Before you throw up another high rise condo, you really ought to consider where those residents are going to put their cars. One slot per household is not realistic in this country. Second, there has to be some way to reduce these insane processing fees, and if someone can’t afford to pay their ticket, they need to be able to do community service instead of being taken out of the community entriely.

Last I looked, debtors’ prisons went out in Charles Dickens’ day. For an entertaining and informative explanation about Municipal Violations by John Oliver, go here.

“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?” [Image credit:]

13 thoughts on “Debtors’ Prisons

  1. In Finland the ticketing system works a bit different. Your ticket amount for a minor or mayor violation equals to one day’s pay. Thus way a oor ot rich person ‘feels’ it the same way. The ticketing officers have access to your tax declarations and can issue you a ticket in accordance to your income…

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