A trap for probationers

There are a few bills from the 2014 Georgia General Assembly that Gov. Nathan Deal should refuse to sign.

House Bill 837 should be at the top of the list.

This bill, intended to reform Georgia’s thinly regulated private probation industry, does the opposite by giving the for-profit companies more authority and allowing them to shield more records from public scrutiny.

Critics of the legislation – count us among them – have called it a “gift” to the private probation industry, which has come under fire in recent years for abusive and heavy-handed tactics against the misdemeanor probationers some companies oversee.

Many of those complaints involved the local operations of Sentinel Offender Services, a firm at the center of a civil-rights lawsuit brought by low-income probationers who found themselves trapped in a cycle of debt because of their inability to pay fines, fees and surcharges.

Does that sound like extortion and indentured servitude? It does to us.

The Augusta Chronicle.

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