Brickbat: Library Fines


Credit: Abee5 / photo on flickr

A Michigan couple face up to $500 in fines and up to 93 days in jail for two overdue library books. Cathy and Melvin Duren have agreed to pay the late fees for both books and to buy a new copy of one of the books, which they could not find. But they have so far refused to pay $210 in "diversion fees" to the Lenawee County prosecutor's office. A judge has warned them they could go to jail if they don't pay those fees as well.

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    1. +1 Steifeeld

    2. +1 pictures of pee-pees and wee-wees.

    3. +1 pictures of pee-pees and wee-wees.

      1. We've got those in a special section next to our books about some families having 2 dads. To stem the complaints.

  1. Robert Walpole's Daddy laughs at their tardiness:

    (link for daddy won't work)

    In 1668 Walpole borrowed a German biography book about the Archbishop of Bremen from the library of Sidney Sussex College.[6] It was finally found in 1956 when Professor John Plumb and the 5th Marquess of Cholmondeley discovered the book in Houghton Hall's library. The book was quickly returned, 288 years after it was checked out.

    1. His descendants were then fined $11,000

  2. "The couple said they probably will never check out a library book again."

    I would suspect that there will be less borrowing from that particular library.

    1. Nah. People never think they'll get a fine. It's like thinking you'll get a speeding ticket. Then, they argue. ALWAYS special circumstances.

      These people, doubtless, got email after email and phone call after phone call. We can decry the disproportionate punishment, but they shouldn't be allowed to check out anymore without some form of restitution for the "lost" items.

      1. I just finished reading "84, Charing Cross Road." The author wrote something along the lines of, "why do people who would never dream of stealing anything think it's okay to borrow a book and not return it?"

  3. What does this have to dp with trans in the bathrooms and Trump?

    1. It's a public library, the junkies are going to need to figure out which bathroom to shoot up in.

    2. What does this have to dp with trans in the bathrooms and Trump?

      DP with trans in the bathroom with Trump? You kinky little bastard!

      1. Sometimes a typo works well,add in Hillary and Bernie and you won't sleep at night.

  4. Sounds like they need to check out a book on pride and civic duty and also debtors prisons in America in the 21st Century.

  5. The couple is willing to work with the state but looky here, coercion and threats is all it knows.

    1. They weren't forced to go to the the library. The entered voluntarily and checked out a book agreeing to the terms and conditions. This is the same as private industries that want to charge interest for late fees and sic debt collectors on the debtors. No state coercion or threats here. Just good old capitalism in a sharing economy.

      1. Did you read the article Bob. I don't think you read the article. The dispute is not over the fine and replacing the lost books. The dispute is over the surcharges added by the prosecutor's office itself (or, rather, authorized by statute).

        1. It sucks, but why shouldn't they pay recovery costs? Losers ought to pay all the costs incurred by the winners, and if that includes $105 for the prosecutor's office, them's the breaks.

          1. Why shouldn't the library? *They're* the ones who chose an expensive debt collector.

            By placing the burden on the debtee you eliminate any incentive for the debtor or debt collector to minimize the costs of debt collection - especially when the debt collector is the state.

            The *library* should pay for the debt collection, and they should charge late fees commensurate with the cost of that debt collection. That way its all obvious up front and no surprise bills on the back end.

            1. Infinity this. Also, WTF on using the prosecutor's office as a debt collector?

    2. When all you have is a hammer, every problem is a child molesting terrorist Sage Brush privileged agitator that misunderstands the constitution.

  6. Now, I don't know the details of the Michigan statute, but generally you need to prove some kind of criminal intent in order to get a conviction.

    Is there evidence they ever said, in effect, "ha ha, suckers, you'll never see these books again!" Because the presumption should be that they kept the books unintentionally, limiting the library to administrative and civil avenues of recovery.

    I mean, I'm sure a prosecutor would never file charges, without evidence of criminal intent, against everyone with an overdue library book, and I know they'd never selectively prosecute people with overdue books.

  7. Has anyone read Stephen King's *The Library Policeman*?

    1. (May contain SPOILERS)

      So the library is haunted by some evil soul-devouring ghost-librarian from the 1960s, and a guy accidentally checks out a book from the ghost librarian instead of the regular librarian. But he returns the book to the regular library, so the ghost librarian marks the book as overdue and sends the Library Policeman after the guy. And that's when it starts to get weird.

      1. Thank god there's no clowns.

  8. what's a library? is there an URL?

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  10. I try to sign as few contracts with the government as possible. I suspect these two will do the same from now on.

    1. I bet Old Man With Candy returns his 'play mates' books on time.Can't leave a trail. These people will hunt you down.

    2. That is a very wise policy. I am currently in exactly zero contracts with government, well, except for that damned social contract which I can't seem to find a copy of.

      1. I hear it's written in blood.When you come of age S.S and Medicare kicks in and you'll have no choice.That's how they get you.

      2. Signed under durress!!

        1. No, not really. When you're born you're given a choice between staying in the country or moving to another. By making the conscious and informed choice to stay, you choose to abide by the social contract. At any time you can void the contract by moving to another country. Everyone knows this.

          1. +1 "love it or leave it" rant

            1. I must have slipped to the end of the user agreement and just clicked ok. Dan you *insert tech company oppressing the masses with amazing technology*.

          2. When you're born you're given a choice between dying or living. By making the conscious and informed choice to live, you choose to abide by the social contract. At any time you can void the contract by suicide.

            Oh, and since the social contract says that the state owns your labor, suicide is a violation fo the social contract and is therefore illegal.

            And you can't move to another country any more - capital controls are in place to ensure that the private individuals do not take the state's assets to another jurisdiction.

    3. What ones have you signed, other than the Social Contract?

  11. A judge has warned them they could go to jail if they don't pay those fees as well.

    Judges are worse than cops for entitlement to their power. "You WILL Respect my AUTHORITAH!".

    Bend over and like it. There's no point in trying to fight it. Then'll they'll just ream you without lube.

    1. I AM THE LAW !!!111!!

  12. Overdue library books are a gateway infraction.

    Nip these scofflaws in the bud, or next it'll be -- oh, I don't know -- double parking!

    1. They are more likely to sign a petition to get low emission vehicle parking installed around town, and advocate ticketing those who don't comply.

  13. In all seriousness, this policy is probably set by ordinance that the library has little control over. It was probably drafted by a zealous city manager or council member.

    Fines for late materials are stupid- you are a member to a club with forced dues, no fines are needed. However, lost or damaged items are a different story- they are what prevents libraries from succumbing to the tragedy of the commons.

    1. The article is pretty clear - nobody involved is protesting having to pay the *late fees and replace the lost books*. They're protesting the taxed on fines, fees, and taxes that show up whenever the state gets you in front of a judge.

      In CA, for example, a speeding ticket for 1-15 MPH over the limit is $35 - what you'll end up paying is $234. One Hundred and ninety nine bucks in surcharges and assessments. 2013/12/CA_Speeding_Ticket_Chart2.png

      1. Hey, at least they're letting people challenge the ticket without having to pay the fine and fees in full ahead of time.

        Biggest fucking scam ever: pay the fine and then go back and try to convince the state to give it back to you.

      2. But more than the "court fees" that get tacked on to everything judicial, this is a case of a civil matter being handled by the prosecutor's office.

        There is no role for the criminal prosecution apparatus to play in a civil dispute. They failed to meet their obligation to return the books. The consequences for this are clearly spelled out in their agreement with the library. They tried to pay the overdue fine and replacement fee for the book.

        And then the state's criminal machine kicks in and says they go to jail if they don't peel off a couple hundred bucks for them. Try that with your fantasy football league if someone doesn't pony up for their buy-in.

        The government just keeps peeling back the mask, but nobody seems to notice. They are no different than the mafia collecting protection money or Afghan chieftains controlling a section of road and extracting fees for safe passage. We've added a nice veneer of people power to the gambit, but it is still a protection racket.

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