"Not for a stupid credit card." It's not a crime to owe money, and debtors' prisons were abolished in the United States in the 19th century.

But people are routinely being thrown in jail for failing to pay debts.

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Finally, after 16 hours in limbo, jail officials fingerprinted Uhlmeyer and explained her offense -- missing a court hearing over an unpaid debt.

"They have no right to do this to me," said the 57-year-old patient care advocate, her voice as soft as a whisper.

In Illinois and southwest Indiana, some judges jail debtors for missing court-ordered debt payments.

In extreme cases, people stay in jail until they raise a minimum payment.

In Minnesota, which has some of the most creditor-friendly laws in the country, the use of arrest warrants against debtors has jumped 60 percent over the past four years, with 845 cases in 2009, a Star Tribune analysis of state court data has found.

Not every warrant results in an arrest, but in Minnesota many debtors spend up to 48 hours in cells with criminals.

In January, a judge sentenced a Kenney, Ill., man "to indefinite incarceration" until he came up with 0 toward a lumber yard debt.

Deborah Poplawski still gets angry about her arrest in Minneapolis last year over an old 0 debt.

As a sheriff's deputy dumped the contents of Joy Uhlmeyer's purse into a sealed bag, she begged to know why she had just been arrested while driving home to Richfield after an Easter visit with her elderly mother. Uhlmeyer spent a sleepless night in a frigid Anoka County holding cell, her hands tucked under her armpits for warmth.