8.01.2006

The system is broken: Globe exposes the snakes that prey on the debt collection system

The Globe is doing a lot more investigative work these days, uncovering official incompetence, sleazy businessmen, and questionable court processes. If you haven't seen the Globe Spotlight investigation into Massachusetts' broken debt collection system ("Debtor's Hell"), you should check it out now. It will leave you fuming. Here's a sample from today's report on constables, who get paid to serve court papers. They are not trained in the law, have no oversight, and charge huge fees for their services, and have an incentive to screw the little people. Many even have criminal backgrounds:
In Boston alone there are 186 of them, and Mayor Thomas M. Menino has given arrest powers to every one, including (Kenneth) Dorsey and 87 others with criminal arrest records for offenses including firearms violations, indecent assault and battery on a child, and impersonating a police officer. Seven have been appointed in spite of guilty verdicts, among them one convicted twice in the last four years of beating his wife.

The other part of this series that was really scary was the second episode on how the small claims court system has been corrupted by lawyers and court staff who consistently favor business interests, even when these business interests accuse the wrong person or don't have evidence that someone owes them money. Disgusting.

These types of articles are traditionally more of the Herald's turf, but I am glad to see that the Globe is getting involved -- whereas the Herald often seems to lean toward sensationalism, the Globe investigative reports usually spends more time researching the problems and presenting more than one side of the story.

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