More than 1,000 courts in several states allow private companies to oversee probation, often with little oversight or regulation, according to a new report from the non-profit Human Rights Watch.
The report describes “abusive” financial practices inflicted by the “offender-funded” model of privatized probation. The findings are primarily derived from more than 75 interviews conducted with people in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.
Private probation companies supervise people who are on probation for minor offenses, collecting outstanding debts and court costs. They often add on their own fees — for items such as ankle monitors and late payment — without court consent, according to Human Rights Watch.
The report documents a series of cases in which probationers were jailed for failure to pay such fines.
“In what is euphemistically referred to as 'pay only' probation, people are sentenced to probation for just one reason: they don't have money and they need time to pay down their fines and court costs,” researchers wrote.
Read the full report HERE.
Watch a short Human Rights Watch documentary about private probation below: