Today, HSPRD, along with Civil Rights Corps and attorney Kyle Mothershead, filed a federal class-action lawsuit brought by five named plaintiffs against two private probation companies and Giles County, Tenn., challenging their policies of extorting money from impoverished misdemeanor probationers and violating their constitutional and statutory rights.
Giles County contracts with the private companies to run a “user funded” probation system in which the companies’ sole source of income and profit is from the very fees paid to them by the people they supervise on probation. Most of the people the companies supervise are placed on private probation only because they are too poor to pay their court debts in full—if they could pay their court debts, their probation would be unsupervised. The companies then determine probation conditions, decide when a person has violated those conditions, and control how much a person must pay and how often she must make those payments. The companies then seek arrest and citation warrants and recommend jail time related to violations of probation.
The Complaint alleges violations of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution, and state law.
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