Allegan County News & Union Enterprise Clare County Review & Marion Press Commercial Record Courier-Leader & Flashes LaFayette Sun

Mike’s Musings: Old woman jailed for $77 debt, give me a break

82-year-old Martha Menefield of Valley, Alabama was handcuffed and driven to jail last week for failing to pay her Waste Management trash bill for three months- June, July and August.
I did a quick reread when this was sent to me last week because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. An 82-year-old woman? Jailed for failing to pay $77 to a garbage collector? Could this be true?
It was and is, and this writer, who has been researching unusual stories for 40 years, hasn’t heard anything more ridiculous.
There’s a lot of people to blame for this. Menefield is certainly not blameless. Valley police claim they made several attempts to get in touch with her, even posting a notice on her front porch. Menefield also failed to show up in court, when the garbage company sued her for the back balance. In the minds of the law, Menefield was avoiding them, and for that, they apparently were going to throw the book at her.
Happy holidays, Ms. Menefield. Maybe you will be served a decent Christmas dinner while in jail.
The garbage company is to blame for taking Menefield to court. By law it is certainly their right, but sometimes we must look beyond the rule of law. Does it really make sense to imprison an 82-year-old feeble, frail African American woman? Does it make fiscal sense to go after anyone for $77? Why not simply stop collecting her garbage until the back balance is paid? And if it is never paid, write it off and enjoy the tax benefit.
The police and court system share in the blame as well. It is understandable they made several attempts to contact the octogenarian. But to spend the time to arrest and process her seems ridiculous. I’m sure there are more important crimes withing the Valley jurisdiction police officers could work on, than arresting someone, let alone an 82-year-old woman for a $77 bill.
Our court and police system sometimes get their priorities mixed up. I remember a few years back while living in Florida, I was confronted by a couple of federal marshals at my front door to arrest me. They said they had a warrant from Michigan because I had failed to appear at a deposition. They hauled me fifty miles to the Orlando courthouse. I remained in a holding cell for a few hours until I was taken in front of a judge. When the judge found out why I was being detained, he told me, “Get the heck out of my courtroom, these charges are nonsense.”
The charges against Menefield are nonsense as well. The affront has made national news, painting the police and court system in a negative light. Talk about a public relations nightmare. It can’t get any worse. I suggest the powers that be drop these charges and make Menefield’s garbage collection bill go away. Maybe gain some good publicity by giving her free garbage pick-up for the next five years. Anything, something should be done, to get past this nightmare.

One Reply to “Mike’s Musings: Old woman jailed for $77 debt, give me a break

  1. I live in Valley, Al. The cops here are Tyrants! When Chief Tommy Weldon retired from Valley police department it went to hell. He would have never let this happen under his watch. Citizens of Valley tried to pay this elderly lady’s trash bill and fines off when this BS happened, but anyone who tried to help her with her fines or trash bill was told they can not pay it. That the person/ elderly lady is responsible! And the young prick valley officer that handcuffed her saw her crying, and whispered to her please it’s ok don’t cry mam. She replied, what if cops was arresting your 82 year old grandmother. She has memory loss. She also about 5 years prior to this had a daycare and helped parents watch their kids for them so they could work. She is always helping people. I hope her daughter which lives out of town from here in Birmingham I think… I hope she sues everyone responsible for this. These Valley cops should be looking for the man that was shot few weeks ago, or the guy last week that was washing his car few miles from this lady’s house at the carwash that was shot multiple times at lunchtime. But they rather spend tax payers money on being Tyrants arresting elderly 82 year old women over 77 dollar trash bill! Every one around here is furious about this and also the fact that we are not allowed to help pay her fines and trash bill.

Leave a Reply