It’s not about money, Kathleen Hucks’ husband told the jury Wednesday.
“She could have died,” James Hucks testified, saying Sentinel Offender Services should be punished for the disgrace and shame his wife endured.
No amount of money would be adequate for what she went through when she was repeatedly arrested on probation violation warrants obtained by Sentinel, he said.
His wife is one of more than a dozen people who filed suit against Sentinel in 2012 in Richmond and Columbia counties claiming the private, for-profit probation company should be held liable for false arrest and false imprisonment.
In April 2006, Hucks was sentenced in Columbia County Superior Court to two years on probation for driving under the influence, driving on a revoked license and possession of marijuana.
More than six years later, she was arrested a fourth time, allegedly for violating her probation. The day before her Sept. 3, 2012, arrest, she had been released from a hospital.
Hucks was repeatedly hospitalized from 2006 to 2012 as doctors tried to address her seizures and heart condition, her husband testified. The first thing James Hucks did after the September 2012 arrest was take his wife’s medication to the jail, he said.
She would have seizures if she missed the daily dose, but the jail wouldn’t accept it, Hucks testified. He went to the hospital to talk to the doctor about contacting the jail to explain the medication’s importance, he told the court. He called Sentinel to ask what he could do to get his wife released and was told to pay $219, he said.
Within days of her arrest, his wife had a seizure, he testified.
She spent nearly three weeks in jail before she could get a hearing before a judge. Within minutes, Judge James G. Blanchard Jr. ordered Hucks’ release, finding that her sentence had expired in 2008.
Although Kathleen Hucks’ sister paid off all she owed to the county in 2008, Sentinel officers keep her on active probation, requiring monthly $39 payments, because she hadn’t completed a risk reduction class or entered alcohol treatment.
Hucks’ first drug test was administered in August 2008, and she tested positive for marijuana, a violation of her probation. However, no warrant was taken out for her arrest until November 2008, when Hucks didn’t pay her monthly fee.
Sentinel co-owner Mark Contestabile said during cross-examination Wednesday that it is a probationer’s responsibility to tell her probation officer that she is having a financial hardship. Any fine and fees can be converted to community service.
“She could have had that changed at any time,” Contestabile said.