We oppose HB647 because it completely ignores the spotlight that has been cast on modern-day debtors’ prisons within our state, at best. At worst, HB647 is an unabashed attempt to encourage the continued criminalization of poverty, in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution. Debtors’ prisons exact terrible human costs. Poor people who are jailed or face the constant threat of jail for unpaid legal financial obligations have been separated from their families, lost jobs, and suffered impacts on their health and housing. In March 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a report on Ferguson, Missouri that shined a light on law enforcement and municipal court practices that treated poor residents of color as revenue sources to be tapped rather than people to be protected and served with detrimental impact on police-community relations. In 2015, too many Mississippians face similar treatment.
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