Georgia’s probation system has become an economic parasite

Eunice-Ford

Linda Ford (Photo: screen grab from court video)

Go read the story by my colleague Rhonda Cook about the travails of Linda Ford, a Coweta County resident who forgot to put the decal on her license plate proving that she had updated her vehicle registration. Ford  was stopped by an officer, given a ticket and ordered to appear in Grantville Municipal Court.

She ended up being hit with a $1,590 fine for that memory lapse. That’s a lot of money for someone working as a baggage handler at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

But that’s not the worst of it. Because Ford couldn’t pay the fine all at once, Grantville Municipal Court Judge Lisa Reeves put her on probation, which means that in addition to the fine, Ford also has to pay a private probation company $44 a month to “monitor” her.

As Cook reports:

While Ford is on probation, she must “avoid persons or places of disreputable character” and cannot move without her probation officer’s permission. She must also submit to a breath, urine or blood test if her probation officer orders one, and it will be at her expense.”

Drug tests and probation officer for someone who forgot to put a decal on her car? Ridiculous, right?

Right. But it’s not as ridiculous as this:

probation

Source: Prison Policy Initiative. Rates per 100,000 population.

 

As the Prison Policy Initiative notes:

“Georgia’s rate of probation is more than double every other states’ rate of probation and greater than every other states’ total rates of correctional control. One reason why Georgia’s use of probation has ballooned to these levels is that the state uses privatized probation, which unnecessarily puts Georgia residents with extremely minor offenses on probation.”

In short, Linda Ford is not an anomaly. She is not the exception. Some 460,000 Georgians — far more than in any other state — have been sentenced to the state’s privatized probation system. Each of them is paying a monthly fee to those companies for “monitoring” that has no real justification.

And if you’re shocked by this, don’t be naive. If you privatize a government function, you create a very strong profit motive to require and supply more of it. As the chart above illustrates, Georgia’s politically powerful privatized probation industry has grown well beyond reasonable bounds and has become a vampire sucking the economic lifeblood from Georgians already struggling to stay afloat financially.

Reader Comments 1

687 comments
ErikDecatur
ErikDecatur

Private Probation is not only unethical, but should be outlawed, much like debtors prison.

These are medieval practices that should be excised from our so called justice system.

MPPC
MPPC

And doesn't one of men in the State Legislature own a probation company and make sure money keeps rolling in?


wdnga
wdnga

Georgia is one of the few states where minor traffic offenses are misdemeanors. Most states have them as infractions or civil penalties only. Therefore minor offenses involve probation at nearly twice the rate of other states. Wouldn't make any difference if private or state probation. Have to change traffic laws to make a difference. Proposal always dies in legislature.

MargaretHolt
MargaretHolt

This is a repeat of Ferguson and our State should be ashamed.  

Citizen-of-the-World
Citizen-of-the-World

Shameful. We need to move away from privatization when it comes to any kind of criminal justice, and end the incentives to maximize criminality and overdo justice, thereby making it unjust. 

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@Citizen-of-the-World Criminal justice has almost become an oxymoron. Instead of protecting citizens our courts have turned into a revenue stream. 

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

Orange16:  Protestors at a Donald Trump rally burned the American flag but waved the Mexican flag proudly. What is wrong with some people in this country? The U.S, Government needs to start kicking a$$ and taking names.

-

Yes, I'm sure fascism will help.


InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@Donnie_Pinko What would you suggest be done to protect citizens. These are not peaceful protesters, they are an angry and violent gang that assaults people just because they disagree.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@InTheMiddle2 @Donnie_Pinko 

What would I suggest be done to protect citizens? 

What about protection for members of the most vulnerable populations being directly targeted for violent action by the now presumptive nominee of one of the principal political parties?

When you and members of your community are openly and directly threatened with violence, some individuals are going to choose to fight back NOW and not simply wait around to be hauled off.
Surprise!

_GodlessHeathen_
_GodlessHeathen_

@Donnie_Pinko @InTheMiddle2 

"What about protection for members of the most vulnerable populations being directly targeted for violent action by the now presumptive nominee of one of the principal political parties"

I don't think Hillary is directly promoting the violence.  Just some of her or Bernie's supporters.

Donnie_Pinko
Donnie_Pinko

@InTheMiddle2 @Donnie_Pinko 

Seriously? 

You really should be paying closer attention. 

Statements made by the candidate himself - not to mention the thuggish tactics of his aids, which he refused to condemn - such as : 

"if you see somebody about to throw a tomato, knock the hell out of them. Just knock the hell...." 

"You know what they used to do to people behaving like that in the old days? They carried them out on a stretcher.."

"You know what, when people acted that way the people started punching back. It was beautiful."

The wholesale maligning and painting of vulnerable populations as rapists and criminals IS ALSO an incitement to violence because were such an individual to gain power, such people could expect all the repressive powers of the state to be brought down on them. At that point, it would be too late for them to fight back.

So, pay attention a little better. That way you won't come off sounding so ill-informed and out of touch.

hamiltonAZ
hamiltonAZ

Thin-skinned Donald can dish it, but he can't take it.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

The probation number is astounding.  Obviously, this is 650 comments in, so, this may have already been addressed...but, does anyone have access to county-by-county numbers? 

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@DownInAlbany The other side of the coin is that if the parolees are not paying, than you and I would be. 

Cherokee51
Cherokee51

@DownInAlbany

The article Kam references below addresses differences in fines imposed - that in itself is pretty startling.  You don't want to get pulled over in Grantville.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

@CherokeeCounty @DownInAlbany It would be interesting to see if there are clusters of probationers in the State.  Is a certain towns, counties or districts? I don't think it's a State-wide conspiracy...

Orange15
Orange15

Protestors at a Donald Trump rally burned the American flag but waved the Mexican flag proudly. What is wrong with some people in this country? The U.S, Government needs to start kicking a$$ and taking names.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

Not sure if this came up, but I find it very suspicious that anyone would get hit with a fine for 1590 just because they forgot to affix a sticker. Is that accurate??

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@Kamchak @InTheMiddle2 Looks like the bigger problem is a bad judge. Unless this particular person has had a history of violations there is no reason for such an outlandish fine.

tireOfIt
tireOfIt

Don the Con should pick Mike Murdock for VP.   Then you get twins cons of a different mother.

tireOfIt
tireOfIt

The more Don the Con speaks the stupider he sounds.  Where are those tax returns?

juliainatlanta
juliainatlanta

Ah, good old privatization, let's just privatize the entire bloody world and make every last thing a vehicle for profit.  Looks how well it has served us thus far. 

Peachs
Peachs

@foo2u wonder how long Trump can keep this energy up, he is a rookie at this 24/7 campaigning. 

Peachs
Peachs

""Donald J. Trump shows contempt for the First Amendment and separation of powers, according to legal experts across the political spectrum."

 NY Times


First  you had the Ralph Reeds of the world, sleek duds, stealing the Christian brand for their own gratification, lobbying for Indians in one state and against them in another. They about wore the Baptist out, who lost 100,000 members last year along. 


But nothing says you been used , more than a third time loser, who orders his wives in a mail order Russian catalog and then parades them in public like slaves at an auction. The great thing is Trump is light a light to a moth, pulling the real timber of  the right out to be examined, as they tell us about their values.  And really showing the underpinning of our press, that go for the money and let the chips, and the truth, fall where they will.  They facilitate liars if the money is right. 

omark
omark

Private sector good, government bad. This is what you get when you substitute knee jerk reactions for a thought process.

There’s no international organization denying global warming. Just one political party. What’s a real issue for these folks? massive voter fraud.

Under federal law, the penalty for voter fraud is up to 5 years in prison, and a 10 thousand dollar fine for each violation. That’s even harsher than forgetting to place stickers on your license plate. Seems to me that would discourage voting early, and often. Also if voter fraud was a serious problem, wouldn’t it have be concentrated on one side of political spectrum?

Anyway, it’s hardly surprising that the folks that consider rising sea levels a joke, and voter fraud a serious threat to democracy, would consider Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump qualified to lead the free world. 

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  1. […] his recent blogpost, “Georgia’s probation system has become an economic parasite”, Jay Bookman suggests the private probation industry is responsible for the high number of […]