End For-Profit Private Probation of Misdemeanor Cases in the United States
  • Petitioned Georgia Governor
  • Responded

This petition was delivered to:

Georgia Governor
President of the United States
Georgia State Senate
Georgia State House
U.S. Senate
U.S. House of Representatives
Georgia-139
State Rep. Patty Bentley
Georgia-094
State Rep. Karen Bennett
Georgia-015
State Rep. Paul Battles
Georgia-034
State Rep. Charles Gregory
See response
Georgia-020
State Rep. Michael Caldwell

End For-Profit Private Probation of Misdemeanor Cases in the United States

    1. Terri FA
    2. Petition by

      Terri FA

      Woodstock, GA

Court systems without revenue stream incentives, are less likely to criminalize our youth!

Georgia, and other state, House and Senate Members have allowed too much authority to the privately held FOR- PROFIT probation companies, who are utilized to collect fines, and, quite frankly, look for reasons to collect more fines and make more money for corporate gain - for MISDEMEANOR citations. This is criminalizing our youth into a never ending system that gives unethical incarceration for non-violent crimes!

The United States Supreme Court in Bearden v. Georgia, 461 U.S. 660 (1983),made it clear that courts cannot imprison an indigent person for failure to pay a criminal fine unless the failure to pay was “willful.” Too often, however, this constitutional rule is ignored. Courts across the South routinely impose substantial costs on already poor people who are struggling to get by, then incarcerate them for being too poor to pay.

Incarcerating Indigent Misdemeanants

The Municipal Court in Gulfport, Mississippi was one such court. In an effort to crack down on people who owed misdemeanor fines, the City of Gulfport employed a fine collection task force. The task force trolled through predominately African-American neighborhoods, rounding up people who had outstanding court fines. After arresting and jailing them, the City of Gulfport processed these people through a court proceeding at which no defense attorney was present or even offered. Many people were jailed for months after hearings lasting just seconds. While the City collected money, it also packed the jail with hundreds of people who couldn’t pay, including people who were sick, physically disabled, and/or limited by mental disabilities. SCHR filed suit to stop these illegal practices. For a copy of the Complaint, click here. For related news coverage, click here.


ACLU Report: 2010 report, 'In For a Penny: The Rise of America's New Debtors' Prisons.'

"Courts are breaking the law by holding defendants in contempt of court for failing to pay fines without proper notice or allowing an attorney to be present, the report said. Courts are also issuing arrests warrants for people who fail to show up and pay their fines and jailing defendants who are too poor to pay, according to the report.

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Georgias Debtors Prisons Belong in a Dickens Novel by Sarah Stillman

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      Public probation has never been perfect. But private probation and debtors prisons went out with Oliver Twist.
      http://m.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/01/georgias-debtors-prisons-belong-in-a-dickens-novel/283204/

    2. Reached 50 signatures
    3. A Judicially Sanctioned Extortion Racket!

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer
      A judicially sanctioned extortion racket

      A COUPLE of months ago I wrote an article about the use of fees and fines in the criminal-justice system, particularly the fees imposed by private-probation...

    4. Human Rights Watch finds private probation practices abusive

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      Human Rights Watch says the study “shows how some company probation officers behave like abusive debt collectors. It explains how some courts and probation companies combine to jail offenders who fall behind on payments they cannot afford to make, in spite of clear legal protections meant to prohibit this. It also argues that the fee structure of offender-funded probation is inherently discriminatory against poor offenders, and imposes the greatest financial burden on those who are least able to afford to pay.
      http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2014-02-05/human-rights-watch-finds-private-probation-practices-abusive

      Human Rights Watch finds private probation practices abusive

      A 31-page report released today by Human Rights Watch contends that the same complaints raised in Augusta by civil lawsuits are common across states that allow courts to contract with private, for-profit probation companies. The group's study included 75 interviews with people in Ala­bama, Georgia and Mis­sis­sippi in the second half of 2013.

    5. Our Rotten Probation System

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      Back in the good old days probation was publicly funded. The process was simple and probation officers’
      mission was to assist offenders and help them assimilate into the general population. Rehabilitation was
      the goal – a noble goal indeed. Like our current prison system, probation is no longer about rehabilitation.
      It has turned into a profit game and recidivism (repeating crime) makes business better. Yes, probation is
      being privatized and local, state and federal governments no longer have to be responsible for funding the
      program. The programs are being turned over to private corporations. The funding is coming from the
      offenders.

      http://www.nationalbcc.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1848:our-rotten-probation-system&catid=63:beyond-the-rhetoric&Itemid=8

      National Black Chamber of Commerce

      Non-Profit Association of African American Businesses as well as Regional, State and Local Chambers of Commerce. Mission statement is to economically empower and sustain African American communities through entrepreneurship and capitalistic activity within the United States and via interaction with the Black Diaspora.

    6. Reached 25 signatures
    7. Non-Profit vs. For-Profit Probation Management

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      There is only one non-profit probation management company in Georgia. They serve Chatham County. This company actually gives back to the community and helps offenders re-gain a productive life! Millions of dollars going into for-profit companies and what are they giving back to your community? http://www.chathamcourts.org/StateCourt/CourtClerk/ProbationServices.aspx

      Probation Services

      Why does the State Court use PRIDE Integrated Services for probation and what is expected? EXPERIENCE... PRIDE is the oldest private probation agency in the country having continually provided criminal justice services since 1970 and misdemeanor probation services since 1977. INNOVATION... PRIDE has developed numerous programs to enhance supervision of criminal justice clients.

    8. Decision-maker Charles Gregory responds:

      Charles Gregory

      I couldn't agree more!


    9. Reached 10 signatures
    10. The Inner Workings of Private Probation and Suicide!

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      The lack of mandated standards for supervision, outside of DOJ, could result in dangerous consequences, Yeager said.
      http://oklahomawatch.org/2012/01/09/the-inner-workings-of-private-probation/

      The Inner Workings of Private Probation

      About a month ago, a probation supervisor got an unsettling call. You don't have to supervise me anymore, the man said, and you can order my death certificate. It's not every day a probation supervisor at Oklahoma Courts Services intervenes in a client attempting suicide.

    11. Minor Infractions Lead to Jail as Private Probation Firms Assess Fees

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      Another lawyer tracking the issue is Lisa Borden, a partner in Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz in Birmingham. She tells the Times that the probation companies are aggressive. “Those arrested are not told about the right to counsel or asked whether they are indigent or offered an alternative to fines and jail,” she said. “There are real constitutional issues at stake.”
      http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/minor_infractions_lead_to_jail_as_private_probation_firms_assess_fees_that_/

    12. Whether you are a parent, offender, family member or friend..

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      If you don't speak out for the future of our community and the state of Georgia, we will soon be plagued with Martial Law and will lose more and more of our civil and Constitutional rights! Please share this petition to avoid further practice of private probation attempts to criminalize our youth! If you live in Cherokee County Georgia, there is very little chance that you dont know someone enchained to private probation and the effects thereof! If nothing else - make our court systems accountable for protecting our rights and show proof that fines and fees are transparent and not excessive! The profits from probation should be returned to the citizens for community outreach to help those who need it most!

    13. FOX NEWS Alabama Judge Calls Private Probation an "Extortion Racket"

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      Some judges have had enough. An Alabama circuit court judge last year rebuked a municipal court and private probation company for incarcerating people over their criminal justice debt, calling the arrangement a "judicially sanctioned extortion racket."
      http://www.foxnews.com/us/2012/07/14/ala-judge-halts-city-private-probation-practice/

    14. As economy flails, debtors' prisons thrive

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505143_162-57577994/as-economy-flails-debtors-prisons-thrive/
      Municipal and so-called mayors' courts -- Ohio is one of two states in the U.S. where mayors can administer the law, even if they aren't licensed attorneys -- also commonly do not give defendants like Dawley a hearing or inform them of their rights to counsel, as required by law.

    15. Reached 5 signatures
    16. In for A Penny ACLU Report

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      www.aclu.org/files/assets/InForAPenny_web.pdf‎

      IN FOR A PENNY: The Rise of America's New Debtors' Prisons. 5 ..... and refer those defendants who cannot immediately pay to private probation supervision.

    17. Critics say private probation punishes poor unfairly!

      Terri FA
      Petition Organizer

      State Court provides one of the largest sources of revenue for the county, outside of property taxes, by collecting fines from thousands of people cited for traffic offenses and misdemeanors.
      http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/crime-courts/2009-11-15/critics-say-private-probation-punishes-poor-unfairly

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Kristin Fridley WOODSTOCK, GA
      • about 1 month ago

      Jailing innocent people is wrong!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • laura nortman COLUMBUS, OH
      • 4 months ago

      I have a basic sense of morality which is obviously untrue of the people allowing this to happen.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • chris andrews BRUNSWICK, GA
      • 5 months ago

      I got on this probation for tickets. Lost my job so i tried to get community service. They ignored my request. Wanted me to pay 188 a month. Too high esp since i had a child 2 months after getting on this probation

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • cheryl johnson ASHEVILLE, NC
      • 6 months ago

      we are headed to serfdom where there 2 classes, the lord and the serfs. I am opposed to the exploitation of the poor and this is just one more scheme to use poor people to generate corporate profits.

      It is immoral, unjust,barbaric, even if it is not illegal.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Bradley Bammel SOUTHLAKE, TX
      • 6 months ago

      Disillusioned from birth with the institutionalized dogma of money worship, it's become increasingly clear what's most important in this country now. Human suffering now comes with a price tag. Is there nothing too morbid as to not try and profit from it? Perhaps not. Perhaps fuck the war on drugs

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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