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Fri Oct 9, 2015, 02:24 PM


The Color of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods

Analysis shows that the suits are far more common in black communities than white ones
by Paul Kiel and Annie Waldman, ProPublica October 8, 2015

The disparity was not merely because black families earn less than white families. Our analysis of five years of court judgments from three metropolitan areas — St. Louis, Chicago and Newark — showed that even accounting for income, the rate of judgments was twice as high in mostly black neighborhoods as it was in mostly white ones.

These findings could suggest racial bias by lenders or collectors. But we found that there is another explanation: That generations of discrimination have left black families with grossly fewer resources to draw on when they come under financial pressure.

Over the past year, ProPublica has investigated a little-known but pervasive shift in the way debt is collected in America: Companies now routinely use the courts to pursue millions of people over even small consumer debts. With the power granted by a court judgment, collectors can seize a chunk of a debtor’s pay. The highest rates of garnishment are among workers who earn between $25,000 and $40,000, but the numbers are nearly as high for those who earn even less.

Despite their prevalence, these suits remain remarkably hidden, even to people in the communities most burdened by them.

In the city of St. Louis and surrounding St. Louis County, where Jennings lies, only about a quarter of the population lives in neighborhoods where most residents are black. But over half of court judgments were concentrated in these neighborhoods.

Armed with these judgments, plaintiffs — typically debt buyers, banks, hospitals, utilities, and auto and high-cost lenders — have seized at least $34 million from residents of St. Louis’ mostly black neighborhoods through suits filed between 2008 and 2012, ProPublica’s analysis found.

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Reply The Color of Debt: How Collection Suits Squeeze Black Neighborhoods (Original post)
Cheese Sandwich Oct 2015 OP
Cal Carpenter Oct 2015 #1
Cheese Sandwich Oct 2015 #2

Response to Cheese Sandwich (Original post)

Fri Oct 9, 2015, 02:31 PM

1. This isn't at all surprising. It matches the general reality of our so-called justice system

People of color get substantially harsher charges and greater penalties/sentences than white people in the vast majority of cases no matter the crime.

It *is* racial bias, by the court system. Built in and protected by the higher courts again and again.

Why would this be any different?

It's the New Jim Crow.

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Response to Cal Carpenter (Reply #1)

Fri Oct 9, 2015, 02:52 PM

2. Yeah one of the most racist places is anytime you have to stand in front of a judge


Banks use that to their advantage.

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