Home Debt obligation Groups write off probation debt in Mississippi, Florida

Groups write off probation debt in Mississippi, Florida


JACKSON, Mississippi (AP) – A nonprofit group and debtors union bought and forgiven the private probation debt of about 20,500 people in Mississippi and Florida, sending letters telling them about the news and criticizing harshly the “abusive debt collectors”.

The Rolling Jubilee Fund nonprofit said on Friday it had worked with the Debt Collective to purchase nearly $ 3.3 million in private probation debt in the secondary debt market for $ 97,922. The groups forgave all the debt. The Debt Collective is a syndicate of debtors working to abolish many types of debt and reform financial systems.

“Courts across the country have outsourced probation to private companies that charge fees for their“ services. ”With very little oversight, these companies often act as abusive debt collectors while those that are unable to pay run the risk of being imprisoned, ”the letter dated 6 October said.

The average individual debt written off was $ 159, said Braxton Brewington, Debt Collective’s press secretary. Most of the canceled debts went to residents of Mississippi.

Part of the condition of buying the debt was that neither the Debt Collective nor the Rolling Jubilee Fund could reveal the name of the private probation company that sold the debt, the Clarion Ledger reported.

In Mississippi, private probation companies often work with the courts to monitor those convicted of DUIs or traffic violations, among other misdemeanors. Companies charge the offender a monitoring fee – typically $ 50 per month – in addition to fines imposed by the court. Failure to pay supervision fees can result in jail time, even if a person pays other court-ordered fines.

Most secondary market buyers are looking to collect the debt they bought for a discount and make a profit. Thomas Gokey, an organizer of Debt Collective, said the practice “really sheds a harsh light on the morality of debt”.

“There’s this idea that you have to pay. You have to pay,” Gokey said. “But what do you really owe an investor who bought your debt as an investment vehicle for 4 cents on the dollar? “

A political action committee led by prominent Democrat Stacey Abrams recently donated to the nonprofit RIP Medical Debt to buy and write off a medical debt with a face value of $ 212 million that is owed by 108,000 people in Georgia, Arizona, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

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