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This bill punishes people for being poor.

This would be slightly less outrageous if it applied to everyone, and served all creditors. But it doesn't. It serves big financial institutions. It tells us we'd better toe the line when dealing with the banks--or they'll lock us up. There could not be a clearer example of the law being the servant of commerce.

I called Senator Kaites, but, apparently, it takes time to get a message to such lofty heights. As we go to press, I haven't heard from him.

I had better luck when I called Richard Spector, a Scottsdale attorney, and asked him about class 6 felonies. Spector was at first disbelieving when I read him the legislation.

"So they're criminalizing debt," he said. "It's debtor's prison all over again. I thought there'd be a resistance to that, because it was a major point of the revolution. The colonists used to do that, put people in prison for debt, or put them in the stocks. That was King George, and after the revolution it wasn't supposed to happen anymore.

"It just shows how strong the automobile and banking lobbies are."

As a crime fighter, Senator Kaites really needs to go further. This bill is a good start, but it has some significant omissions. What about people who fall behind with their rent, and don't move out when asked to? Obviously, they should be given the death penalty.

But such minor quibbles are churlish, and I'm sure the Legislature will get around to them in due course. Meanwhile, Arizona is a safer place for bankers, who can sleep easily at night knowing that evil defaulters will finally be hunted down and given the punishment they so richly deserve.

Contact Barry Graham at his online address: bgraham@newtimes.com

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