In this one, I learnt that some States in the U.S. allegedly still use jail as a method for some types of unpaid debts – unpaid medical bills, student loans and (in this case) the Vet bill can all get you handcuffed, and a mugshot taken.
The stories from the report, referenced in the article, (A Pound of Flesh: The Criminalization of Private Debt) are like something from Dickens, and looking around Google it appears the debtor’s prison is de facto. The case of the Vet bill was typical: a mix of the system in place, things being overlooked, ignored and escalating. I once came across something similar, fortunately, there were no criminal proceedings. A landlord’s tenant hadn’t paid the water bill, the lettings agent had overlooked some additional charges and letters, and the Court issued a CCJ to the landlord, the wrong person – only to be discovered when looking to remortgage and credit checks were being taken on him. What started out as a small amount had escalated in cost, for both the Vet bill man and the landlord.
The Vet bill guy’s dog sadly passed away and was lost – The landlord managed to keep his property.