Winner 2013 Webby Awards for Best Political Website
Top Banner, Site wide
Apr 17, 2014

 Choose a size
Text Size

Top Leaderboard, Site wide

Star-Spangled Baggage
Science Finds New Routes to Energy




Paul Robeson: A Life


Truthdig Bazaar
The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy

By John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt
$26.00

more items

 
A/V Booth

For-Profit Probation Companies Target the Poor

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Feb 13, 2014
Screenshot via Human Rights Watch

By Donald Kaufman

For-profit probation companies reap financial incentives in their assault on the poor through abusive and disproportionate punishment for minor offenses. Human Rights Watch takes a closer look:

Every year, U.S. courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers. Often, the poorest people wind up paying the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. And when they can’t pay, companies can and do secure their arrest.

The 72-page report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry,” describes how more than 1,000 courts in several U.S. states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.


One of these stories is about Thomas Barrett, who landed in jail for three months for stealing a can of beer. The for-profit firm Sentinel Offender Services decided this was apt punishment to ensure Barrett would pay his fees. He wound up more than $1,000 in debt despite the fact that he was selling his own blood plasma twice a week to pay his dues.

Below is a video describing Barrett’s ordeal and how private probation companies work:

Advertisement

Square, Site wide

—Posted by Donald Kaufman


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

Newsletter

sign up to get updates


 
 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.