A bill in the Illinois Legislature would make it harder to jail poor people who miss court dates or are found in contempt of court as they struggle with unpaid debts. Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan supports the bill. She says debt collectors have become so aggressive in parts of Illinois that they commonly use taxpayer-financed courts, sheriff's deputies and county jails to squeeze poor people who fall behind on small payments. It happened to Jack Hinton, a disabled and irregularly employed roofer from DeWitt County. A judge sent Hinton to jail until he could come up with $300. The measure has passed the House and is supported by groups representing debt collectors and their attorneys, who agree with Madigan that some judges and attorneys have gone too far.
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