After watching Brave New Films’, “To Prison for Poverty,” I have three questions:
- Companies such as Judicial Correction Services and Sentinel Offender Services, for-profit, private companies that collect money from citizens placed on probation for misdemeanor crimes, are hired by public courts and used to add additional fees on to someone’s charge. The court already determines the charge, so why do these companies intensify the fee, while also allowing them to accumulate overtime?
- In Kathleen Hucks’ case, a Georgia citizen who was arrested for a DUI and who then served her time and paid her fees, in addition to the Sentinel fees, was then added to the probation list by Sentinel, for reasons that were not presented, and not by the court. Though she was taken off of the subsequent probation list by the judge, Hucks was still responsible for paying $156 to Sentinel. How are these private companies able to determine whether someone is on probation?
- After witnessing the increasing number of people being put into jail for not paying fees that exceed their actual charges, why are private probation companies still in business?
It is to my understanding that once the debt is paid, the time is served, or both, then the citizen is free of further obligations to the courts. If these private companies continuously make it harder for people to get off probation, thus leading to imprisonment, then what exactly is prison made for? Is it built for the punishment and supposed rehabilitation of murderers or kidnappers? Or is it for the 17-year old who couldn’t afford to pay her seatbelt ticket? The legitimacy of these private probation companies is one to be thoroughly investigated and leads to my final question: Is this even legal?
By Kayra Clouden