Residents of a small town in Kansas, where the poverty rate is twice the national average, are imprisoned for their unpaid medical bills.
In Coffeyville, Kansas, 26.2 percent of the more than 9,700 people living there are below the poverty line compared to the national average of 13.1 percent.
Because of this problem, some residents, such as Tres Biggs, had two jobs. Neither of these jobs offered Tres insurance plans and he could not afford healthcare.
Tres and his wife Heather said they were lagging behind their son’s medical bills after the diagnosis of leukemia.
Their son, Lane, was five years old at the time of his diagnosis and at the same time, Heather suffered from seizures and Lyme disease, according to ProPublica.
Tres and his wife, Heather (pictured together), said they were lagging behind their son’s medical bills after the diagnosis of leukemia. Tres was arrested after collecting more than $ 70,000 in medical debts
Tres (pictured with his wife) worked two jobs at the time of his arrest. Neither job offered him insurance plans and he could not afford health care.
Tres was first arrested in 2008 after the Coffeyville Regional Medical Center (photo) sued him in 2006 for $ 2,146. That bill came from a visit to Heather’s first aid
“We had so many – multiple health problems in our family at the same time, it placed us in a group that made insurance unreachable,” Heather told the publication.
“It would make no sense. We should not have had food, not had a house. “
Tres was first arrested in 2008 after the Coffeyville Regional Medical Center sued him in 2006 for $ 2,146. That bill came from a visit to Heather’s first aid.
During both his work, Tres worked 70 hours a week and brought his son to chemotherapy.
By doing all that, he missed two lawsuits over the medical bill. He was subsequently arrested for not appearing in court. His bail was set at $ 500.
Over the next few years, the Biggs family were sued by the hospital several times until their debts had been over $ 70,000 in medical expenses, forcing them to file for bankruptcy.
Crystal Dyke (pictured with her husband) had a similar story. She was arrested when she was four pregnant because she missed hearings with a radiologist bill of $ 230
Crystal Dyke had a similar story.
She was arrested when she was four months pregnant because she missed hearings with a radiologist bill of $ 230.
Her bail was also set at $ 500.
According to ProPublica, lawyer Michael Hassenplug represents medical care providers to collect the debts owed.
Hassenplug was partially responsible for the law of the local judge, David Casement, after he recommended it. Hassenplug uses the law by asking the court to have people with unpaid medical bills appear before the court every three months.
During their performances, the residents would declare that they are too poor to pay in what is called a ‘debtor exam’.
If a resident misses two appearances of the court, Casement issues an arrest warrant for contempt of the court. Their bail has been set at $ 500.
In almost every case in Coffeyville, bail goes to lawyers like Hassenplug instead of returning to defendants as soon as they appear in court.
Moreover, if a suspect missed his appearance in court for no good reason, he would have to pay an additional $ 50 to cover attorney fees.
According to ProPublica, Judge David Casement (photo) is a cattle rancher who has been appointed Judge Magistrate, even though he has never followed a single trial. In Kansas, judges do not need a law degree to manage such matters
And if they didn’t pay, they would get a two-day sentence.
According to ProPublica, Casement is a cattle rancher who has been appointed as a magistrate, even though he has never followed a single trial.
In Kansas, judges do not need a law degree to chair such cases.
Nusrat Choudhury, deputy director of the ACLU, told the CBS that this practice “raises serious constitutional concerns.”
“What is happening here is a prison for cash that is the criminalization of private debts.”