Facts Concerning Judgments and Circumstances Under "Which Debtors May be Imprisoned.

Imprisonment for debt has been abolished in every State and Territory. It was considered of so much importance that in some States it is prohibited in their constitutions. At the same time there are some fraudulent acts committed when incurring the debt, or in refusing to pay it, for which there is imprisonment to a certain extent.

The first limitation is, that the creditor must advance the board-bill to the jailor. Another is, the writ of arrest cannot be issued unless indorsed (by some judicial officer) with the amount for which the debtor is required to enter into bonds not to leave the jail limits, which usually embraces the county. On giving bond in such sum the debtor may live anywhere within the limits. Another is, that the writ cannot issue until proof by affidavits of the requisite facts is furnished to the judicial officer who is authorized to allow the writ. Finally, the debtor may make, under the insolvent law, a genuine assignment of all his property exempt from execution, and then he is discharged. He may have a trial of the truth of the charges, and if they are found untrue he will be discharged.

Imprisonment after judgment is usually a satisfaction of it. An action of trespass lies against the plaintiff if the writ issues without authority, and an action on the case when the charges are false and the arrest malicious. For the above reasons creditors rarely imprison fraudulent debtors.

The cases in which there can be an arrest may be classified. Thus: The debtor may be arrested at the commencement of the suit or after the judgment. There are few States in which he may be arrested before judgment, in cases resting on contract. On the other hand, the defendant may be arrested at the commencement of the suit in all States for wrong-doing. In addition to the affidavit stating the grounds for the arrest, and the allowance of the writ by the officer, the plaintiff is generally required to give a bond to the defendant, conditioned to pay all damages.

There are few cases connected with a debt where it is safe to arrest; many where it is dangerous, and very many where it is useless.