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Northwestern Pritzker School of Law

Civil Rights and Discrimination

Collection agencies

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Debt Bondage: How Private Collection Agencies Keep The Formerly Incarcerated Tethered To The Criminal Justice System, Bryan L. Adamson Apr 2020

Debt Bondage: How Private Collection Agencies Keep The Formerly Incarcerated Tethered To The Criminal Justice System, Bryan L. Adamson

Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy

This Article examines the constitutionality of statutes which allow courts to transfer outstanding legal financial obligations to private debt collection agencies. In Washington State, the clerk of courts can transfer the legal financial obligation of a formerly incarcerated person if he or she is only thirty days late making a payment. Upon transfer, the debt collection agencies can assess a “collection fee” of up to 50% of the first $100.000 of the unpaid legal financial obligation, and up to 35% of the unpaid debt over $100,000. This fee becomes part of the LFO debt imposed at sentencing, and ...