Rex Iverson was jailed for the alleged crime of not paying an ambulance bill. Legally, this should not be a jailable offense, but that didn’t stop police from arresting him placing him in the Box Elder County Jail.
The very next day, Iverson was found dead.
Iverson simply didn’t have the money to pay the medical bill that totaled nearly $2,4000. It goes without saying that he also didn’t have the money to pay bail.
The Tremonton City Ambulance service tried to garnish his wages, “but he didn’t have a job, that we knew of,” City treasurer Sharri Oyler said.
“We go to great lengths to never arrest anybody on these warrants,” Elder County Chief Deputy Sheriff Dale Ward told local reporters with the Ogden Standard-Examiner. “The reason we do that is we don’t want to run a debtors’ prison. There is no reason for someone to be rotting in jail on a bad debt.”
So why did they arrest him then? Debtors prisons are supposedly illegal in the United States.
“How can you get blood out of a turnip?” Josh Daniels of the Utah-based Libertas Institute asked. “The thing about going to jail, your time does not pay your debt… A person should be obliged to pay, but putting him in jail doesn’t solve the problem.”
Utah calls their illegal debtors prison “justice courts” according to the Standard-Examiner.
In only the last three years, there have been 13 people arrested and jailed for debts just like Iverson’s.
Many of these debts have been ones owed to government agencies.
The Free Thought Project cites a report by the Sixth Amendment Center, last October, which explains that Utah’s “justice courts” are not there to seek justice of any kind, but instead to punish the poor for being poor.
Help get the word out about these so-called “justice courts”!
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