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

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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.



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