Opinion: Jailing People For Debt Not Beneficial

January 7, 2015

WAYNE FURBERT 06[Opinion column written by PLP MP Wayne Furbert]

Under the leadership of Marc Bean, the PLP continue to offer new ideas and new solutions that speak to our uncompromising belief in a Bermuda that works for Bermudians.

This new vision is at its foundation, about elevating the condition of all Bermudians and in creating a fairer, more inclusive Bermuda where everyone with the will to succeed has a fair opportunity to do so.

Part of building a Bermuda that works for Bermudians involves removing backwards, outdated laws and policies that create hardship and suffering among our people.

Last month the PLP attempted to keep one of our 2012 Election Promises; ending the practice of jailing people for debt. We expected that MPs from all parties would agree that the time had come, especially with so many of our people out of work, to end this barbaric practice. After all, the OBA had also promised to end the practice of jailing Bermudians for debt.

Statistics cite that most people find themselves before the courts for their inability to pay Hospital bills and BELCO bills. Necessities of life, not luxuries.

In this economic climate jailing an individual for debt would likely lead to:-

  • job loss,
  • the destabilization of the family,
  • escalation of the family debt
  • difficulty in finding future employment,

Yet the OBA refused to join with us, keep their promise and end the practice of jailing people for debt.

Most of the Bermudians our bill [PDF] would have helped are not deadbeats. They are not running up debts with travel, clothes and other luxuries. They are people who were without health insurance and forced to go to the hospital for medical reasons. They are people who lost their jobs and couldn’t afford to keep their lights on. They are our family, our friends, and our neighbors. With the mounting job losses most of us understand that this challenge knows no boundaries.

Jailing Bermudians for debt is not beneficial to Bermudian families or to our community. That’s why we must use our collective intellect and ability to come up with better, more effective and productive solutions.

If you believe like we do, than we encourage you to contact the OBA MPs and Senators and let them know that the time has come for us to work together and stop jailing Bermudians for debt. Let us be compassionate to each other and continue to fight for Bermudians facing the threat of being jailed for debt. We in the PLP will continue to bring forward new ideas and new initiatives intended to ease the burden on Bermudians, level the playing field and create a fairer, more inclusive Bermuda.

We in the PLP, will continue to bring forward new ideas and new initiatives intended to ease the burden on Bermudians, level the playing field and create a fairer, more inclusive Bermuda.

- Wayne Furbert

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Comments (30)

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  1. Smoke and Mirrors says:

    Bermudians are not jailed for debt, they are jailed for contempt of court. If someone demonstrates true inability to pay, they are not jailed.

    • Black Soil says:

      Wayne needs to create a “pretend-OBA” cuz he cannot find much wrong with the real one. So he wants you to believe the OBA locks up people due to debt. Wayne also cannot name one person in jail simply due to debt because no such person exists.

  2. Triangle Drifter says:

    Has Furbert or the rest of the PLP brought forward any viable solutions to the contempt of court through not paying debts? No…not a peep. They don’t have any viable solutions.

    The debtors know this & they play the system to the fullest. Speaking from personal experience here. Almost 5 years after providing a service, in & out of court, a couple small payments recieved after each time then nothing. The courts don’t follow up on non payment of court orders.

    All one can do is keep bouncing the debtor back into court. Keep adding the charges to do so. Keep adding interest to the money owed. Don’t give up even though the enforcement of the courts is seriously broken.

    What to do? Well, if the courts don’t want to imprison the debtors perhaps confiscating debtors assets would be a good start. Cars, jewelry, anything else that can be sold off to turn into cash that is owed.

    That just might get the attention of those who are so good at playing the courts for a bunch of fools & pay those who are owed.

    • ole Onion says:

      Lol. ! Here comes the sheriff of Nottingham ! Everybody needs their money! That’s the hard truth!! Who’s paying and who’s Not ?? The current state of court system for paying must be working . Maybe not to 100% return in minimal time but… ..
      What about the Money owed to people for there pensions from private businesses ? In ten & twenty years can I ? Will I ? Know where’s the money ?

  3. hmmmmm says:

    Absolutely correct they do not get locked up for the debt but contempt of court, it’s two different things: apples and oranges.

    What they need to crack down on is all the child support that is owed, delinquent parents do not get locked up for the debt nor contempt of court, time for change it’s a new year!

    Good luck with the assets thing, the courts do not confiscate assets either nor take travel documents for delinquent parents and the legislation gives them the power to do so, the court system needs a serious overhaul I am afraid ASAP!

  4. Micro says:

    Not paying and not being able to pay are completely different things.

    But in any case, persons could be made to work for their creditors until the money owed is paid off.

    • Triangle Drifter says:

      Oh really!!!! Enlighten us on how that would work. Garnishment from wages does not work. The courts do not do their job & keep track of what is going on.

  5. Sandgrownan says:

    Wayne is being disingenuous again

  6. Starting Point says:

    Yet the OBA has reduced the amount of people Jailed due to Debt by more than 400% from the former administration…..

    Thank you for showing us how much better we are now than two years ago.

  7. Devonshire says:

    Jailing people for debt is a novelty in deed. I strongly suggest to those that are concerned about how the courts are handling the most flagrant debtors to attend Magistrates Court 3- Wednesday & Friday at 9:30. Then offer an opinion…

    Especially yourself Mr. Furbert.

  8. Sky Pilot says:

    lmao,flip-flop has flopped again!

  9. agatha christie says:

    I just cannot take this seriously for two reasons 1. it comes from the mouth of flip flop furbert and 2. the PLP had how many years to correct this? Give me a break from the rewriting of history

  10. agatha christie says:

    Why isn’t he concerned as well about the lack of ankle bracelets for people held on remand. They cannot get a bracelet so they go to jail – who introduced this policy?

  11. SMH says:

    I just we were allowed to jail this guy (WF) and make all our lives better. You can tell when he’s trying to bamboozle voters…his lips are moving….

  12. watcher55 says:

    We removed the death penalty, murder has gone up a thousand percent, remove possible incarceration for running up debt and not paying…what do you things going to happen Wayne?

  13. Ian says:

    So cute how the OBA diehard cheerleaders simply regurgitate Master Dunkley’s “contempt of court” cop-out stance on jailing folks for debt (and abondoning one more OBA promise). Not shocking though as most of those same diehards probably dont relate to the folks who are more likely to find themselves on the shafted end of this archaic policy.

    • SMH says:

      Ian…most of these debts are for child support where “fathers” don’t want to pay to raise their children. But’s according to you that’s not a problem and they should have to go hungry because it’s their fault for being born in the first place. Heaven forbid the fathers should be held accountable…anything for votes, right. Why not legalize shootings too….good for another bunch of votes.

      • hmmmmm says:

        AMEN AMEN AMEN to you SMH! 5 figures I am owed in back child support since 2007 and the courts will not even give me a status update on my case due to a “new directive” they have been handed down on the OBA’s watch that forbids them to do so!That is if you want to get political!

        I want someone to explain to me how someone on defaulters review that is is supposed to attend court monthly and pay’s debt has doubled during the time they have been on review!It is a joke

        • SMH says:

          Hopefully God will be waiting for him when he gets there and asks him the same question. How anyone could treat their own flesh and blood like that is beyond me.

    • Kangoocar says:

      @jo blo, you are absolutely correct in asking that, I over the years have been screwed out of $ Thousands by people that ask for services and have NO intention when it comes time to pay ( which amounts to OUTRIGHT THEFT!!!) and in my opinion deserves JAIL time, I have made drastic changes over the last few years in order for that to not happen again to me!!! This whole BS from flip flop and his plp is nothing more than a grab for votes!!! They don’t care were the votes come from!!!! Everyone needs to understand the fact that the more you make it easy for certain people the more they will take advantage of the situation!!!! This is just another classic case of ” dumbing down ” the people!!!! It is high time that everyone needs to understand the fact that, when people don’t pay their obligation, WE ALL PAY THE PRICE through higher costs of service and product!!!! Also consider the source of this article?? Flip flop and his scheme a few years ago, come to mind!!!!!

    • Kangoocar says:

      Ian, so what exactly do you think should happen to those individuals that hire or buy services or products from local businesses with NO intention of paying for it???? Which cannot be considered in any other way than, outright theft!!!!

  14. Jo Blo says:

    Would be interesting to know the stats on what proportion of folks that are against jailing prolific debtors actually have experienced the challenges of running a business in Bermuda.

    • Kangoocar says:

      @jo blo, you are absolutely correct in asking that, I over the years have been screwed out of $ Thousands by people that ask for services and have NO intention when it comes time to pay ( which amounts to OUTRIGHT THEFT!!!) and in my opinion deserves JAIL time, I have made drastic changes over the last few years in order for that to not happen again to me!!! This whole BS from flip flop and his plp is nothing more than a grab for votes!!! They don’t care were the votes come from!!!! Everyone needs to understand the fact that the more you make it easy for certain people the more they will take advantage of the situation!!!! This is just another classic case of ” dumbing down ” the people!!!! It is high time that everyone needs to understand the fact that, when people don’t pay their obligation, WE ALL PAY THE PRICE through higher costs of service and product!!!! Also consider the source of this article?? Flip flop and his scheme a few years ago, come to mind!!!!!

    • Creamy says:

      I’d like to know how many of them are single parents, who have attempted to get payments from deadbeat spermdonor fathers.

  15. aceboy says:

    New ideas and initiative? All you are saying is stop jailing people for debt. That is not bold, not a new idea and is just more typical PLP silliness and trying to make it seem like they are doing something.

  16. jt says:

    PLP continues to grasp for anything they think they can make an issue of….running out of ammo.

  17. Dylan says:

    as Charlie Brown put it Wa, wa wa, wa ,wa . You trying to tell me WF just thought of this and it is only a problem now ….wow …14 years of spending spending and spending hey the PLP government did it and they weren’t held accountable so why can’t Joe Blow Public.

    • ole Onion says:

      Let’s look at the facts and then come up with solutions! Some cases need to be locked up for debt . Some don’t ! Do most commenting on this topic like myself even know the current laws written , that the judges rule by ?
      So …

  18. Creamy says:

    A court order is the best weapon a single mother has, to force the deadbeat father to pay for his kid’s upbringing.

    The PLP want to make things worse for single parents. Without court orders, no single parent will be able to get fathers to pay for their kids. This will add to problems for those least able to afford it.

    • hmmmmm says:

      LOL court orders mean nothing I am afraid. Delinquent parents ignore them and the apparently the courts do not issue warrants anymore for delinquency (or so I am told). And delinquent parents contimue to travel and ride around in fancy boats on the weekends smh!

      TIRED TIRED TIRED of nonsence start doing something please!