You should make sure this one is on your radar. As municipalities and states continue to feel the budget crunch of the long descent, they start coming up with novel ways to wring blood from stone. One of the many services some have privatized out to the highest bidder is the process of collecting fines for misdemeanor crimes and probationary periods. What this means is that instead of dealing with a government agency to pay your fines for parking tickets, speeding tickets and such, you have to deal with a for profit business. And make no mistake, they are profiting mightily. A recent report from Human Rights Watch estimated companies in Georgia alone rake in $40 million in probation fees each year. And since money is the quickest way to power, the laws are now bending to favor them.
Current law in Georgia stops short of giving private companies the full powers of state felony probation systems. However, this bill would change that, granting judges the ability to “toll,” or extend, private probation sentences beyond their original date, effectively removing any limit to the amount of time a person can be on probation. It would also explicitly permit electronic monitoring for misdemeanor offenders. In practice, this already occurs, and has proven to be another key profit stream for companies. People on private probation with Sentinel Offender Services in Augusta, for example, pay between $6 and $12 a day to sport electronic ankle monitors in addition to paying their monthly fees to the companies and the fines that landed them on probation in the first place.
Similar tales have been playing out in more than 1,000 courts across the country, from Georgia to Idaho. In the face of strained budgets and cuts to public services, state and local governments have been stepping up their efforts to ensure that the criminal justice system pays for itself. They have increased fines and court costs, intensified law enforcement efforts, and passed so-called pay-to-stay laws that charge offenders daily jail fees. They have also begun contracting with “offender-funded” probation companies
So make sure you are living below your means and you have a ton of savings on hand. If you ever have a brush with the law, the ability to pay in full up front might just keep your prepper butt out of debtors prisons. Seriously, one of them is called “a closed facility, the Shelby County Work Release Center.” I guess that’s what they are going to call work houses this time around. Do your best to stay out of them. Anybody seen any of this in your neighborhood? Sound off in the comments.
– Calamity Jane