Lawsuit: Ferguson Runs a Debtors’ Prison

In addition to witnessing one of the most infamous recent outbreaks of racial disharmony, Ferguson, Missouri, is being sued for operating a “modern debtors’ prison.” On Sunday, a group of 15 individuals, referred to as “impoverished people,” filed federal class-action lawsuits against Ferguson and Jennings, another Missouri city. The suits charge Ferguson with creating a cycle of prison for poor residents who could not afford to pay fines for traffic violations and other minor offenses. “They were threatened, abused, and left to languish in confinement at the mercy of local officials until their frightened family members could produce enough cash to buy their freedom or until city jail officials decided, days or weeks later, to let them out for free,” according to the complaint.