This report examines two concerning trends: the increasing use of fines and fees to fund the criminal legal system, and functions of that system being outsourced to private companies who profit from the criminal legal system.
Arkansas secures payment of court debt through incarceration, driver’s license suspensions, and probation, for which an additional fee is charged.
The American Bar Association developed ten guidelines to ensure that fines and fees do not punish people disproportionately for their poverty.
This suit against Judicial Correction Services in Alabama alleges that people were placed on probation without adjudication of their guilt nor sentenced to serve jail time.
James Brooks paid Leaders in Community Alternatives, a private probation company, $1,629 for 58 days to avoid jail and to continue to be able to care for his ill mother.
Alameda County contracts with Leaders in Community Alternatives (LCA) to provide court-ordered GPS tracking and alcohol monitoring devices for people on pre-trial or home detention. Although LCA is supposed to charge fees on a sliding scale based on a person’s ability to pay, LCA does not adjust its fees based on a person’s actual financial circumstances and never informs people that reduced fees are available.
Plaintiffs argue that by budgeting for revenue from fines and fees, Doraville creates a perverse incentive for the city’s police, prosecutors, and judges.
In November 2015, McNeil pled guilty to driving with a revoked license. She was placed on probation for 11 months and 29 days and ordered to pay $426 in fines and fees, $25 each week in court costs and fines, $45 a month in supervision fees, and $45 for each drug test.
Community Probation Services, LLC and PSI Probation, LLC, for-profit probation companies, provide probation services for Giles County, Tennessee. The companies add their own fees and surcharges to the court debts of probationers.
The author conducted qualitative research to assess the effect of private probation on people under parole supervision for misdemeanor offenses in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, and Tennessee. In some of these states, private parole officers have the authority to control critical aspects of a person’s parole terms.