Alan Collinge of the Student Loan Justice Org sent me an email yesterday.
Bad Stuff from Texas . . .
This is a scary story. They are arresting people en masse in Texas over student loan debt.
I got on the Thom Hartmann show to talk about it: https://youtu.be/a1OBJGs2PeE
There’s no direct tie-in with the for-profit prison thing, but for some reason the one reminds me of the other!!!
Anyhow, I hope all is well on your end!
If you go out on the internet, you are going to see a lot about this with the Washington Post blowing it off and Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge treating this incident as more than just a single occurrence. Did some Googling and ended up with “Sputnik News” and the Washington Post. Tossed Sputnik News and read the Washington Post article. Here is what the WP had to say:
“If you’ve defaulted on federal student loans, you can breathe more easily. You won’t be arrested for simply failing to make payments.”
More to the story:
“Marshals had made several attempts to contact Aker to appear in federal court, according to Hunter. Notices were sent to numerous known addresses. Marshals spoke with Aker by phone and requested that he appear in court, but Aker refused, a statement from officials said. So a federal judge issued a warrant for Aker’s arrest for failing to appear at a December 2012 hearing.”
The sum we are talking about here is $1500 before collection agency fees and the costs of federal Marshals contacting the debtor and dragging Paul Akers away to jail. What the WP’s Michelle Singletary misses in this is the case is in federal court with federal Marshals dispatched to pick up Mr. Akers for a debt of $1500. If this is not unusual to the WP columnist as she notes, it is highly unusual to me and I too have been involved with student loans for years. So what gives?
29th District Texas Congressman Gene Green: “the federal government has been contracting out student-loan collections to private debt collectors, who are allowed to deploy the U.S. marshals as their enforcement arm.
There’s bound to be a better way to collect on a student loan debt,’ said the congressman. Around Houston, that “better way” involves 1,200 to 1,500 arrest warrants. Student debt is at an all time high in the U.S., where students hold an average of $35,000 in federal debt, according to an analysis of government data on “Edvisors.”.”
This appears to be over reach by the US Department of Education if this is really happening; but a closer look revealed, judges are going after people who do not show up in court. You can be held in contempt for this and also if the judge believes you are deliberately failing to pay. Both occurrences will get you a place in prison. The bigger question is why does a private collection agency get to use federal court and federal marshals to collect $1500? And yes I already know the US Department of Education is a federal being.
Even so, seven armed US Marshals? What if the Justice Department treated bankers and investment firm gamblers in a similar manner? Something is awry when the US Department of Education allows debt collectors to resort to Federal Court (which already has a lack of Federal judges due to Republican legislators blocking Pres. Obama nominations). I wonder how this will play into the gov., the pres., the Koch Bros, CAP and other supposedly lib and prog. think tanks wanting to let prisoners out of prisons due to harsh sentencing. But wait a minute, these are past and present students and they do not count. There is so much wrong here, it is difficult to know where to begin.
So is this just one “toss-away” to scare students or maybe a federal judge exercising his judicial moxy or as the WP columnist says this is not a precursor of more arrests to come? According to the WP article:
“’If anyone out there thinks that it is the top priority of the U.S. Marshal’s Service to arrest student-loan violators, they are sadly mistaken,’ Richard Hunter, chief deputy U.S. marshal for the southern district of Texas, told me (WP columnist) in an interview.”
29th District Texas Congressman Gene Green says more to come as the US Dept. of Education cracks down on student loan defaulters in Texas (for now).
At Zero Hedge, Tyler Durden confirms the Congressman’s belief;
“Our reliable source with the US Marshals in Houston say Aker isn’t the first and won’t be the last.
They have to serve anywhere from 1200 to 1500 warrants to people who have failed to pay their federal student loans.”
This just goes to confirm my belief of the present effort by the Koch Bros, CAP and other liberal think tanks in addition to the conservative/libertarian think tanks on changing sentencing guidelines and releasing thousands from prison due to harsh sentencing. This has nothing to do with having sympathy for those caught up in preordained sentencing guidelines for repeat offenders and druggies as much as it has to do with changing the law to keep corporate management out of jail for violating EPA laws, banking laws, etc. In this instance, the ploy is to shift “mens rea” on to the prosecution alleviating the need of corporations having to prove they and their management did not know the law (in such cases you ask for jury trials now). We are again being hoodwinked by the Koch Bros who wish to piggy back this shift on present legislation sponsored in part by Congressman John Conyers who sees African Americans getting out of prison now incarcerated due to harsh sentencing guidelines. A noble effort; but, it should not give Corporate America and its heads a free get-out-of-jail card.
We will stick it to present and former students who typically have little money to pay back aggressively formatted loans, fight back against debt collectors in court, and send multiples of federal marshals to their homes to drag them to court while giving heads of Corporate America a lenient alternative. Who thought of this???
“If justice means a prison sentence for a teenager who steals a car, (or for that matter defaults on a student loan [myself]) but it means nothing more than a sideways glance at a CEO who quietly engineers the theft of billions of dollars, then the promise of equal justice under the law has turned into a lie. The failure to prosecute big, visible crimes has a corrosive effect on the fabric of democracy and our shared belief that we are all equal in the eyes of the law.” Senator Elizabeth Warren; “Rigged Justice: 2016 How Weak Enforcement Lets Corporate Offenders Off Easy>”