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Drudge Retort: The Other Side of the News
Monday, October 26, 2020

Evictions in Arkansas can snowball from criminal charges to arrests to jail time because of a 119-year-old law that mostly impacts female, Black and low-income renters. Even prosecutors have called it unconstitutional.

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Interesting. I never really thought about non-payment of rent constituting a criminal act, but I'm having difficulty explaining why it can't.

Ignoring the immorality of bringing criminal charges, if someone steals food to keep from starving to death, they would still be committing a crime. Shelter is typically less necessary for survival than food, so why not charge someone with a crime for taking someone else's property without paying for it?

#1 | Posted by censored at 2020-10-26 03:17 PM | Reply

Which devour widows' houses, and for a shew make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation.

--Luke 20:47 (KJV)

#2 | Posted by madscientist at 2020-10-26 04:15 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Systemic racism.

#3 | Posted by snoofy at 2020-10-26 04:49 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

so why not charge someone with a crime for taking someone else's property without paying for it?

Because breaches of contracts are not considered criminal matters, and occupants haven't "taken" anything from their landlords unless they've damaged the property and thus are subject to further financial penalties as a result.

There are eviction laws on the books for a reason. They are an acknowledgment that difficult circumstances can come upon anyone at anytime, and the simple public good is not served by immediately forcing people into the streets when they face hard times. The simple inability to pay rent should not then make the public responsible for that person's upkeep especially when jailing them is not going to make the landlord whole.

We separate law into distinct areas of civil and criminal for a reason. Being poor should not make anyone a criminal for the most obvious of reasons: Gainful employment is not a right, it's a blessing that no individual can control 100% by themselves.

#4 | Posted by tonyroma at 2020-10-26 04:57 PM | Reply | Newsworthy 1

Yeah, those are good points Tony. I have to disagree with you on the idea that there is no taking, though. The landlord is deprived of something if someone stays without paying. There are often mortgages and property taxes to pay for the real estate that the tenant is occupying. Also, staying on after one is unable to pay rent means that person is planning on continuing to take as that person often has no ability to pay future rent, let alone past rent.

I understand that we have criminal and civil systems of justice, but plenty of people in a variety of circumstances find themselves on the hook for both.

This Arkansas situation kinda reminds me of Florida's Inn-Keeper law, where restaurant patrons are threatened with arrest for failing to pay their dinner tab.

Anyhow, it's an interesting case. If it ever gets to SCOTUS, I think we all know how Justice Coney Barrett and her homies will come down on it.

#5 | Posted by censored at 2020-10-26 08:12 PM | Reply

The landlord's rights are codified in the same contract as the renter's. The state establishes the eviction laws and in how many days that process must take from beginning to end.

I see no reason why landlords shouldn't be charged and jailed if they don't make repairs immediately at the tenant's request if the tenant can be evicted and jailed for simply not paying their rent. In fact, why doesn't every company face criminal charges when they don't fulfill the language of their contracts?

It's a horrid idea and there is good reason these laws no longer exist in most of the country. Whether or not the tenant pays rent, the property itself will retain its value - ergo if pushed, the landlord faces no appreciable long term loss even if the rent isn't paid. A renter does not "use up" the property. Incarcerating the leasee not only ruins their lives, it impacts the lives and well being of their families at the same time. And again, all for being broke.

While I appreciate your concession, you're coming off worse than Ebenezer Scrooge. Criminalizing poverty is as immoral as it gets.

#6 | Posted by tonyroma at 2020-10-26 08:22 PM | Reply

I'm just talking about a novel-to-me concept Tony. I'm not suggesting that this is an appropriate use of the criminal justice system.

#7 | Posted by censored at 2020-10-26 08:44 PM | Reply

Clintons should have changed that Law

#8 | Posted by Maverick at 2020-10-27 02:38 PM | Reply

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