‘Being poor is not a crime’: Mississippi residents among 20,000 to get probation debt erased

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Clarion Ledger on 10/29/2021 by Lee O. Sanderlin

Early in October, more than 20,000 letters went out to residents of Mississippi and Florida letting them know the good news: Their private probation debt had been erased.

“Jubilant Greetings!” the letters opened, informing debtors of their good fortune before launching into pointed critique of America’s fraudulent justice system that disproportionately incarcerates poor people and people of color.

“You no longer owe the balance of this particular debt,” the letters said. “It is gone, a gift with no strings attached.”

The Rolling Jubilee Fund, a nonprofit organization, purchased $3.2 million of private probation debt on the secondary debt market for pennies on the dollar, and forgaveĀ all of it. The purchase was made in coordination with the Debt Collective, a union of debtors working to abolish many kinds of debt and reform America’s financial systems.