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An Act for the relief of poor persons imprisoned for debt.
SECTION 1. Person imprisoned for want of bail, 16. Who deemed the creditor within mean.
&c. may be allowed the liberty of the ing of section eight.
yard on bond-condition of bond. 17. Clerks and justices to note cause of 2. Damages for breach of condition of action on execution-officer also in bond.
case of omission jailer not liable. 3. Narragansett Indians within the act. | 18. Under what circumstances debtor may 4. Surety in bond may surrender his have a second citation.
principal—who shall be recommitted ; 19. Court before which action is pending surety discharged.
may administer to defendant the oath 5. Prisoner giving bond may go into pri. prescribed in section eleven, in certain
vate and public buildings, &c. within cases.
21. Same subject. 6. Limitation of action on bond.
22. Same subject. 7. Person committed on execution to 23. Same subject.
have liberty of yard, not exceeding 24. Defendant in execution, who if comthirty days, unless he assigns his es mitted would be entitled to benefit of tate for benefit of creditors.
oath prescribed in section eleven, may 8. Person imprisoned for debt, &c. may before commitment apply therefor.
apply for his discharge-proceedings 25. Same subject. on such application.
26. Same subject. 9. Creditor or his attorney to be notified. 27. Defendant to make assignment before 10. Justice may administer the oath pre oath shall be administered.
scribed-applicant to make an assign 28. Debts contracted before the act goes
ment to jailer for benefit of creditors. into operation not affected by nine pre11. Form of the oath to be administered. ceding sections. 12. Any person imprisoned as aforesaid 29. Prisoner presenting to jailer certificate may avail himself of the act.
prescribed in section thirteen shall be 13. Justices shall grant certificate-form discharged from commitment-debt of.
not discharged--proceedings conse14. Jailer to assign to creditor all the pro quent thereon.
perty received by him under section 30. Justice may adjourn the hearing on ten.
citation, from time to time. 15. Persons excepted from the provisions 31. Bond, &c. for ease of prisoners, void.
of the act.
It is enacted by the General Assembly, as follows:
SECTION 1. Whenever any person shall be imprisoned for want of bail in any civil action; or upon surrender or commitment by bail in any such action; or on execution in any civil action, (except on executions awarded in actions on penal statutes or on bonds given in pursuance of this section, or in any actions of trover, detinue or trespass, other than trespass quare clausum fregit, in which title to the close was in dispute between the parties, and trespass and ejectment ;) or for non-payment of any military fine or town or state taxes, the sheriff or keeper of the jail may grant to such person a chamber or lodging in any of the houses or apartments belonging to such prison, and liberty of the yard within the limits thereof, upon reasonable payment to be made for chamber room; such prisoner first leaving with such sheriff or keeper of the jail, a bond to the creditor with two or more sufficient sureties being inhabitants of this state, bounden jointly and severally, in double or not less than double the
sum for which he is imprisoned, with condition in form following, viz: “ That if the above now a prisoner in the jail in
within the county of at the suit of do and shall from henceforth continue and be a true prisoner in the custody, guard and safe keeping of keeper of the said prison, and in the custody, guard and safe keeping of his deputy, officers and servants, or some one of them, within the limits of the said prison, until he shall be lawfully discharged, without committing any manner of escape or escapes, during the term of his or her restraint, then this obligation to be void, or else to remain in full force and virtue.”
Sec. 2. If the creditor shall obtain judgment on such bond for the breach of the condition thereof, he shall recover his just debt with interest from the time judgment was rendered in the original suit, and twelve per cent. interest on such debt for his damages; and the court shall render judgment thereon accordingly.
Sec. 3. Any one of the Narragansett tribe of Indians committed to jail for debt, upon mesne process or execution, shall be considered as a poor prisoner, within the true intent and meaning of this act, notwithstanding such prisoner may have estate, real or personal, in common with the said tribe or otherwise ; and shall be entitled to and may receive all the benefits and advantages hereof.
Sec. 4. Any person who shall become surety in any bond given by any debtor for the liberty of the jail yard as aforesaid, shall have a right at any time to deliver up the principal in said bond to the sheriff of the county in which such debtor may have been committed, or to the keeper of the jail therein, and within such jail; whereupon he shall be detained by such sheriff or keeper in close prison, in the same manner as though he had not been liberated on bond, until he shall give other bond according to this act, or be otherwise discharged according to law; and none of the sureties, after the principal has been delivered up as aforesaid, shall be liable for any escape thereafter committed by the principal aforesaid.
Sec. 5. Any person confined in any jail who may hereafter give bond for the liberty of the yard pursuant to this act, may and shall be at liberty thereafter to pass over any highway or into any houses, lands or tenements or public buildings within the exterior limits of the yard, as they are or shall be established by law ; and to abide and remain therein without being deemed to have committed an escape or to have forfeited such bond: provided, however, that nothing herein contained shall be construed to authorize any trespass upon the property or possession of the owner or tenant of any such houses, lands or tenements whatever.
Sec. 6. No action shall be hereafter maintained for the breach of any bond given for the liberty of the jail yard as aforesaid, unless the same be brought within one year from and after such breach committed.
Sec. 7. No person committed on execution shall have the liberty of the prison yard for more than thirty days after his commitment, unless he shall within the said thirty days execute an assignment of all his estate of every kind not exempted from attachment by law, and wherever the same may be, to some citizen of this state, his heirs and assigns, in trust for the equal benefit of all his creditors in proportion to their demands. And if any person so committed shall neglect to render himself to the keeper of the jail in said jail within said thirty days, or make an assignment as herein before provided, he shall be deemed to have committed an escape under his bond for the liberty of the prison yard.
Sec. 8. Whenever any person who shall be imprisoned for debt, whether on mesne process or execution, or for nonpayment of any military fine, or town or state taxes, or on execution awarded against him as defendant in any action of trespass and ejectment, or trespass quare clausum fregit, in which title to the close was in dispute between the parties, shall complain to any justice of the supreme court or to any justice of the court of common pleas, or any justice of the peace of the county where such person shall be committed, that he hath no estate, real or personal, wherewith to support himself in prison, or to pay prison charges, and shall request the privilege and benefit prescribed by this act, such justice shall forthwith issue a notification to the creditor, if within this state, or if such creditor does not live within this state, then to his agent or attorney on record within this state, to appear at such time and place as the said justice shall appoint, to shew cause, if any he hath, why the person complaining as aforesaid should not have the benefit of this act.
Sec. 9. The notification referred to in the next preceding section shall be served on the creditor, his agent or attorney as aforesaid, seven days at least before the time appointed as aforesaid, by reading the same to him; or by leaving an attested copy at his last and usual place of abode, by the sheriff, his deputy or either of the town sergeants or constables in the county in which such creditor, his agent or attorney shall reside.
Sec. 10. Any justice of the supreme court or any justice of the court of common pleas of the county where such person shall be committed, and any justice of the peace in the said county who shall be disinterested, are hereby empowered, at the time and place appointed as aforesaid, to examine the return of said notification; and if it shall appear to have been duly served, to administer the oath herein after prescribed to the party imprisoned as aforesaid, if after fully examining the prisoner under oath, and hearing the parties, the said justices shall think it proper so to do: provided such applicant shall then and there first make and execute a deed of assignment of all his estate of every kind, except what is exempted from attachment by law, and wherever the same may be, to such keeper and his successor in his said office and his assigns in trust, for the benefit of all his creditors in proportion to their respective demands.
Sec. 11. The oath to be administered in such a case shall be as follows: I do solemnly swear, (or affirm,) that I have not any estate, real or personal, in possession, remainder or reversion, over ten dollars; and that I have not since the commencement of this suit against me, or at any other time, directly or indirectly, sold, leased or otherwise conveyed or disposed of to, or entrusted any person or persons whomsoever with, all or any part of the estate, real or personal, whereof I have been the lawful owner or possessor, with any intent or design to secure the same, or to receive, or to expect any profit or advantage therefrom, for myself or for any of my children or family or any other person; or have caused or suffered to be done any thing else whatsoever, whereby any of my creditors may be defrauded : so help me God: or, this affirmation I make and give upon peril of the penalty of perjury.
Sec. 12. Any person imprisoned as aforesaid shall be allowed to avail himself of the provisions of this act, if he will make oath as aforesaid, that he hath not any estate, real or personal, in possession, remainder or reversion, except what is exempt from attachment by law; and the said justices are hereby authorized to vary the form of the oath aforesaid accordingly.
Sec. 13. The oath above described, being administered by said justices and taken by said prisoner, the said justices shall deliver him a certificate thereof, under their hands and seals, in the following form, viz:
keeper of the jail at in the county of
We, the subscribers, authorized by the statute in
ufficient to cept what is "ath not any es
such case made and provided, do certify, that
a poor prisoner confined upon mesne process, (or otherwise as the case may be,) in the prison at
aforesaid, hath caused
the party at whose suit he was so confined, to be notified according to law, of his the said desire of taking the benefit of an act entitled “ an act for the relief of poor persons imprisoned for debt;" that in our opinion the said
hath not any estate, either real or personal, except what is exempt from attachment by law, sufficient to support himself in prison ; and that he hath not conveyed or concealed his estate with design to secure the same to his own use, or to defraud his creditors; and that we have, after due caution to the said
administered to him the oath, (or affirmation,) prescribed in the act aforesaid. Witness our hands and seals this day of
Justice of the supreme court, or
Justice of the court of common < pleas, of the county of
Justice of the peace. Sec. 14. No keeper of any jail receiving an assignment under the tenth section of this act shall be held responsible to any person for any property of any assignor, except such as he has actually received into his possession : provided he shall assign all the interest he shall obtain thereby to the committing creditor on his request; to be held by such creditor, his heirs, executors, administrators and assigns, for the purposes and trusts set forth in said deed. No person who has been admitted to take the oath prescribed in the eleventh section of this act shall be retained in jail for the prison fees, or for the fees of the justices before whom he may have taken such oath.
Sec. 15. No person who shall be committed on execution awarded against him as plaintiff in replevin, or as defendant in any action on a penal statute, or in any action of trover or detinue, or for any malicious injury to the person, health or reputation of the plaintiff in such suit, or for breach of promise of marriage, or for seduction, or for any trespass excepting only such as are particularly named in the eighth section of this act, shall be deemed to be within the meaning of the provision of that section or entitled to any benefit therefrom.
Sec. 16. The person to whom the debt appears by the process to belong at the time complaint is made shall be