Judge Milas “Butch” Hale from Sherwood, Arkansas has been accused of [allegedly] running a “modern-day debtor’s prison” after he recently sentenced a 44-year-old man with pancreatic cancer to 90 days in jail.
President and Executive Director of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Kristen Clarke said of sentencing people like this to jail:
“People are doomed for failure when they appear before the court, and most significantly trapped in this never-ending cycle of expanding debt. With the resurgence of debtors’ prisons, we will continue to see people cycle in and out of jails and prisons across our country merely because of their inability to pay fines and fees tied to low-level, nonviolent offenses.”
Lee Robertson, the man with pancreatic cancer, first ran into trouble in 2009 when he was diagnosed and began his first round of chemotherapy. His sickness forced him to stop working, which eliminated his source of income and made it impossible for him to sustain himself. In the course of two weeks, Robertson wrote 11 checks to stores for small amounts ranging from $5 to $41 that all bounced.