Even though the U.S. Supreme Court has said it is unconstitutional, Louisiana still puts hundreds of people in prison every year just because they are too poor to pay court-ordered fines, court costs and costs of probation.
The austerity packages Greece has endured as its condition of economic bailout over the past half-decade have not only further gutted the country's broken economy and prevented any sort of recovery toward self-sufficiency, but have shattered the socioeconomic structure of life.
The year was marked by historic changes on issues from marriage equality to solitary confinement reform, and it ended with Colorado students taking to the streets, forcing a dialogue about race and police practices.
What is going on in Kentucky is apparently going on in various pockets of the nation. It has to stop because it is wrong. It also has to stop unless the rulings of the Supreme Court mean nothing to people charged with upholding them.
Debtors' Prison should be required reading for anyone who influences economic policy in this country. Open-minded readers should come away convinced that we need to reject the economics of despair for an economics of hope.
Incarcerating people for not paying fees they can't afford isn't generating revenue -- it's just creating more government spending. And making it almost impossible for people to rejoin society ensures that people will wind up back in prison.
If there is one thing that most Americans might agree upon it is that the debt collection industry and the work it performs ranks in status somewhere below that of a Wall Street Banker and slightly above that of a U.S. Congressman.
Those who take out loans and lines of credit are responsible for paying back what they owe. But the debt collection industry has run amok in the practices it deploys to get repaid, some acting more like organized crime than private businesses.