Early this year, the AJC reported that the private probation system has collected large fees while often doing little to supervise people under their watch. Critics say the system has criminalized poverty, resulting in people being jailed because they can't pay administrative fees and expenses tacked-on by the companies. The companies say that by handling low-level offenders, they are performing a valuable service in Georgia. Today, the Georgia Supreme Court hears arguments in more than a dozen lawsuits challenging the system.
State auditors already have weighed in, reporting this spring that the system makes up rules on the fly, has no accounting for funds, and allows companies to collect more than they are due. State judges also tried to weigh in, arguing that the companies provide essential services. But the state Judicial Qualifications Commission barred the judges from taking sides, saying that would run afoul of the state's desire to have neutral judges to hear cases. Check for updates at MyAJC.com on the arguments.