The Clink was a prison located in the United Kingdom, which operated from the 12th century until the end of the 18th. This debtors prison served the Liberty of the Clink, a local manor area owned by the Bishop of Winchester rather than the Queen or the King of England. As the owner and master in charge, the Bishop kept all revenues from the Clink and put people in this prison for failing to pay their fines.
Below is the introduction of House Bill 244
"Recognizing the negative impact of criminal justice imposed financial obligations on defendants has led to reforms across the country of the United States of America to reduce the financial burdens that disproportionally impact the poor. This type of debt and the collateral consequences of suspending a driver’s license negatively impacts the rehabilitation of those in the criminal justice system and pushes those without an ability to pay further into the system unnecessarily."
It puts you in the Clink and if you're already in the Clink whether that means that you're impoverished and paying a debt that you can't afford or indigent without the means for education or opportunity for gainful employment...
It pushes you and your family further in behind bars after bars and steel enforced cement bricks and concrete.
HB 244 Continued
"This Act does all of the following: (1) Prohibits a court from imposing a fine, fee, cost, or assessment on children without the means to pay them. (2) Provides the courts with the discretion to waive, modify, or suspend any fine, fee, cost, or assessment. (3) Prohibits a court or the Department of Transportation from suspending a driver’s license for nonpayment of a fine, fee cost, assessment, or restitution and from charging a penalty, assessment, or fee to a defendant for the cancellation of a warrant issued due to the defendant’s nonpayment of a fine, fee, cost, assessment, or restitution. (4) Prohibits a court from imposing an additional fee on a defendant for payments that are made at designated periodic intervals or late, or when probation is ordered to supervise a defendant’s payment. Nothing in this Act precludes the court from filing contempt charges against defendants who willfully fail to pay their fines. (5) Requires the Judiciary and the Delaware Criminal Justice Information System to report on the sum collected from fines, fees, costs, assessments, and restitution and make a public report of these totals. (6) Eliminates the Public Defender fee and the Probation Supervision fee. The collections from these fees currently go to the General Fund. (7) Creates the Criminal Legal System Imposed Debt Study Group to review the impact that court imposed financial obligations have on defendants and victims and make recommendations to promote access, fairness, and transparency in the imposition and collection of court imposed financial obligations. (8) Makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual."
Here in Delaware in 2012 I willfully broke the law and drove with a suspended license to see my probation officer once a month until I was pulled over by the State police and was charged for driving without a license. Level 1 probation was supposed to be easy. I got it over and done with without use of a vehicle from then on out.
I stayed away from drugs and my car.
Sometimes the bus felt like the Clink to me. Imagine riding with kids to daycare and to work and even school. Imagine being a woman who is a single mom going to ALL of these places in ONE afternoon. I think about my mom who was no stranger to the criminal justice system. Not only was she LGBT, she being a felon, was always in the Clink...
She never had enough money without scheming.
What an example to set.
I was there with her.
Yes, I sold drugs.
I owed debts I didn't pay and I had court dates I didn't show up for and I owed court costs for those court dates I didn't show up for. The probation I did show up for I still had to pay for and I thank God that a bill like this has been written and introduced and that we can mirror and echo the great work already being done around the country and across this sphere to end this system of taxing and imprisoning the poor under the weight of their debt, their poverty and their total embarrassment.
The most tragic thing I can think of is that we've been doing this work for so many years and it's still not a sure thing here in Delaware. Win or lose we must do what's right and keep up the GOOD fight by working together to get this done!
Judgements of violence against already disenfranchised and oppressed people must end. Debtors Prison must end in Delaware fully and finally.
My father who I would never affeciently call "Dad" committed acts of violence against my mother even while she was pregnant with me.
I almost forgave him because that was the Christian thing to do until I heard him speak about it. The incident when we were all so poor and I hadn't been born yet when he made the poorest decision ever.
And he stood over her like the Bishop. He collected money from her and controlled her like she was in prison. He robbed her because she was the bread winner and she was stuck with him because of me in the Clink. She was in prison.. I've apologized to my mother for the sins of my father and my grandfather who was never there for her when she was a child.
How do we apologize for the sins of this nation's forefathers who carried over an unacceptable system of money making and control just like they carried over people who looked like me in chains at the bottom of ships soiled in refuge and sick from trauma dealt to them? Who do we owe this debt to? Who is responsible for this pain and this blame?
'Les we remember the mosaics and collages of scars on the backs of men and women and how these marks connect together with the poor mother who is on drugs and in court and the poor senior whose social security is being garnished to pay back their debt and the child who is charged actual money for having to appear in court for a crime commited against him or her today in Delaware.
For more of my story please visit KEEPUPTHEGOODFIGHT.ORG