Under Scrutiny, Orlando Court Ends ‘Debtors’ Prison’ Practice


Frederick Lauten, chief judge of the circuit courts for the Orlando area, announced that he will quash more than 21,000 arrest orders for people who failed to appear at collections court, ending the long-standing practice of jailing the defendants when they are located, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The courts have been under scrutiny for operating what some see as a debtors’ prison for those accused of minor offenses. The Sentinel has published several articles about Orange County’s Collections Court, and TV host John Oliver of “Last Week Tonight” highlighted the case of a man jailed for court fees.

Lauten said judges would no longer issue a “writ of bodily attachment” for people who don’t appear at the debt-collection hearings and have missed their monthly payments. “The net that was cast by the use of these writs was a wide one, and today the clerk and I have concluded that at times that net was too wide,” Lauten said.

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