The privatization of misdemeanor probation has allowed for-profit companies to act, essentially, as collection agencies with law enforcement authority. On any given day, there are over 150,000 Georgians on misdemeanor probation. More than 80% of those people are supervised by a private probation company, and these companies have one overarching aim: to make a profit at any cost.
These companies, which focus on profit rather than public safety or rehabilitation, provide no case management and little to no supervision. Any underlying issues of poverty, unemployment, family instability, or lack of housing are likely to go unaddressed. Instead, poor people are threatened and intimidated into coming up with payment for their fine and supervision fees on a weekly or monthly basis, often for offenses that were poverty-related in the first place.
Initially designed as a form of community supervision for individuals who pose a threat, and therefore require monitoring, probation has undeniably become untethered from its original intent. Private probation companies are driven by a profit motive, which rewards having as many people on probation as possible, for as long as possible. Practices like these erode public confidence in law enforcement and fundamentally undermine the integrity of the court system.
At SCHR, we refuse to accept a criminal legal system in which the amount of money in a person’s bank account so explicitly determines the outcome of their case. We will not tolerate a mercenary culture in which courts prioritize revenue over justice and public safety.