Most people believe the concept of “Debtors’ Prison” is an 18th Century relic. Sadly, that belief would be incorrect since it still exists in many modern forms.

In 1846, Dred Scott began his infamous legal battle in what is now called the “Old Courthouse” in downtown St. Louis. Scott had traveled with his master from Missouri to Illinois and the Wisconsin Territory, neither of which recognized slavery. Having lived for an extended period in free territory, Scott argued that state law supported his claim to freedom. But the Missouri Supreme Court disagreed. The court’s message to Scott was clear: Perhaps you can live freely elsewhere, but not here.More than a century and a half later, at least in St. Louis it appears with its current legislation and processing of certain individuals to be a region that continues to distinguish itself as one that is hostile to its poor African-American residents.

Each online course is developed from an 8-hour classroom-based curriculum. The average length of our online courses is 90 to 120 minutes.


  • Module 1 - Overview - From History To Modern Practices

    • Debtors' Prison History
    • Debtors' Prison is Alive Today
    • The Cycle Begins
    • The System's Cost of Doing Business
    • Module Assessment
  • Module 2 - How Inmates Incur Debt Inside a Correctional Facility

    • Inmate Debt
    • Medical Expense Debt, Dental Care Debt
    • Imate Mail, Personal Hygiene
    • A Facility's Cost of Providing Its Mandated Services
    • Other Costs - Food, Utilities, Cleaning
    • Module Assessment
  • Module 3 - Should Inmates Pay for Their Stay

    • Should an Inmate Pay to Stay?
    • Why Pay for Someone Else’s Crime
    • How Charging Inmate#8217;s Fees Can Reduce Frivolous Requests
    • Module Assessment
  • Module 4 - Programs that Attempt to Recoupe Money From Inmates

    • Good Programs or Financial Distortions
    • Pay to Stay Programs
    • Four-Star Accomedations?, Work Releas Inmates
    • Suing and Inmate for Their Stay
    • Collecting the Money
    • Module Assessment
  • Module 5 - Do Such Programs Make Sense and Cents

    • Do These Programs Work?
    • Violation of Rights
    • Summary