Judge halts 'debtors prison' by Harpersville city court, calls it 'judicially sanctioned extortion'Rickey Stokes
Posted by: RStokes
Date: Jul 13 2012 2:45 PM
HARPERSVILLE, Alabama -- A Shelby County judge shut down what he called a "debtors prison" run by Harpersville Municipal Court and a private probation company that he said amounted to a "judicially sanctioned extortion racket," court records show.
Circuit Judge Hub Harrington took control of all cases in Harpersville involving people jailed for failing to pay court fines and fees. He also ordered the city's mayor and all council members to attend an Aug. 20 injunction hearing and future court hearings in the case.
Harrington filed the order Wednesday afternoon on a lawsuit filed in 2010 on behalf of Dana Burdette, contending that Harpersville Municipal Court routinely violated defendants' Constitutional rights. If they were unable to immediately pay court-imposed fines and fees, defendants often were trapped by the system into paying several times that amount, the judge found.
The judge wrote in a scathing five-page order that he reviewed sworn statements filed by Burdette's lawyers during the Fourth of July holiday and was appalled by the evidence he saw of systematic abuses in Harpersville.
Article on other lawsuit filed against private probation services. Click for article