Think that US law requires that citizens be charged with a crime before being imprisoned? It does… except when it doesn’t. Welcome to the weird legal backwater of civil contempt, where a defendant’s guilt is presumed until they can prove otherwise.
While the indefinite detentions at Guantanamo have (reasonably) gotten more attention, the stories collected here by the Wall Street Journal show how even apart from the ongoing mess in Cuba, a US judge can order a person imprisoned indefinitely without due process or even criminal charges, right here at home.
In most of these cases, judges order a party to turn over some money, and hold them in a local jail until they cough up the dough. This works fine… unless they don’t have the money. I’ve spent a good part of my reporting career documenting how the fantastically rich can hide funds offshore, but I can’t believe the judges who are holding these people without trial. If the state can’t prove a crime has occurred, the person goes free… in theory.