Martha Louis Menefield, 82 yr old Valley, Alabama woman arrested for not paying $77.80 trash bill as social media responds to notion of criminalizing debt.
Criminalizing debt? Disconcert has come to the fore after an 82 year old Alabama woman was arrested last week for not paying a $77.80 trash bill.
Court records show Martha Louis Menefield, hailing from Valley being arrested Sunday for not paying the garbage service bill that covered the months of June, July and August. The woman according to a Facebook release by the City of Valley Alabama stated the woman being charged with a misdemeanor offense of ‘failure to pay solid waste fees.’
The arrest of the octogenarian drew outrage on social media, with some users accusing Alabama state of criminalizing debt. A city official said the arrest came after multiple attempts to collect the bill and a history of suspended service.
Responded another: ‘Where are all the good Christians in Alabama? Why would they let ANYONE go to jail for being poor?’
When police are turned into debt collectors
While another reflected: ‘Unpaid trash shouldn’t cause incarceration! Where are her friends and neighbors? No church people to help? GoFundMe???’
In an interview with CBS News, Ms Menefield said her first reaction when two officers arrived at her door on 25 November was laughter.
‘You’re not kidding?’ she asked the officer. But when the police explained that he was indeed there to arrest her over an unpaid trash bill, Ms Menefield said, ‘I was upset because I didn’t know why they would come and arrest me.’
Adding, ‘I was in a little cage-like thing at the police station,”
‘And I said, ‘Y’all put me in this cage? You ought to be ashamed of yourself.’
Responding to the growing discontent following the 82 year old woman’s arrest, Valley City Officials said code enforcement officers attempted to contact her several times and left a door hanger at her home (does this constitute proper legal serving?). After the 82 year old failing to appear at a September court date for the citation, an arrest warrant for ‘Failure to Pay-Trash was issued.’
But there’s more.
Court records show the woman also being arrested in 2006 for not paying a $206.54 trash bill. The case was later dismissed ‘upon compliance,’ court records showed.
Her trash services were suspended three times in the past two years, and there have been more than 22 incidents of suspensions and revocations of trash services since 2006, according to Valley Police Chief Mark Reynolds
Reynolds stated officers were required to arrest the 82 year old after a magistrate signed off on an arrest warrant for the octogenarian.
The woman ‘was treated respectfully by our officers in the performance of their duties and was released on a bond as prescribed by the violation,’ Reynolds said.
former potus didn’t pay taxes & rich have loopholes. The poor get arrested for not paying $77.80. Granma wasn’t questioned; she was arrested with cuffs.
While she needs to pay the bill–so do all wealthy people need to pay their SHARE of taxes. https://t.co/J3WcPPGTxD
— Trump is Clear & Present Danger to Democracy (@ABlueDotInSC) December 2, 2022
Social media responds
And then there were these additional responses on social media that caught this author’s attention. See what you think?
‘They treated this elderly lady like a criminal. The only thing criminal about this entire situation were the actions of the city, judge, and police department.’
‘Good lord, just cut off her service and don’t turn it back on till she’s paid up. Anyone participating in her arrest is complicit and should be ashamed of themselves and that includes the person that posted this press release here. In fact, anyone participating in her arrest could have pooled their resources and paid her bill. It’s called being a decent human being. And since when is an unpaid utility bill turned over to the court system.’
‘In our community, seniors get discounted services and free roll out/in. They also will never lose service or get put in jail for failure to pay. What kind of fascist hell is yours where police detain to pay a private debt.’
‘Just discontinue trash services. No need to escalate to arresting someone on a fixed limited income.’
‘Sounds like misusing the criminal justice system to enforce a civil penalty.’