The short film To Prison for Poverty opened my eyes to how we are jailing people for being poor.
It is ridiculous to put someone in jail because of these fees. It would be understandable if the person was not paying their ticket, but there are unnecessary fees that are causing the real problem. Private companies are willing to do whatever it takes to get their profit.
Hali Wood was making payments to cover her ticket, but the money she was paying was only going to the fees. In the video, she said that even if you were making the payments on your probation the private company called JCS, or Judicial Correction Services, would still charge you the monthly fees. She can’t afford the probation fees and says she wants to be done with it. However, they are not going to just let her pay off the ticket. The judge told her that it wasn’t his problem and she needed to figure it out. I’m asking how?!? How is a young girl who is only 17 supposed to pay off a ticket when the county just keeps adding on fees?? The town she lives in is a small town and there are not many employment opportunities for her.
Then we meet Kathleen Hucks, who was arrested in 2006 for a DUI. She stayed in Columbia County Jail for eight months and then was put on probation for two years. Her probation was finished in 2008, but in 2012 she was arrested and put in jail for twenty days for not paying her probation fees. Once her probation was up she was no longer required to pay fees because she paid them during her probation period.
Sentinel Corrections Services, a private probation company, decided to put Kathleen back on probation without notifying the courts, so they can keep collecting the monthly fees and make a profit. They were that desperate for only $157 that was accumulated over four years…it was only FOUR YEARS. Sentinel is a greedy company and they had no right to put Kathleen back on probation. They did not pay her anything for what they put her through. Sentinel still got the money they wanted and they absolutely shouldn’t have. These companies are focused on making a profit, not doing what is right. They need to be stopped and the courts need to crack down on what these privates companies are doing.
By Arnelle Pierre-Louis