Private probation firm hit with new civil suit

Man sent to jail sues company

Another civil case has been lodged against Sentinel Of­fender Services, this time alleging that a man was jailed for nearly five months for violating a probation term that ended two years ago.


The habeas corpus petition filed Friday in Richmond Coun­ty Superior Court on behalf of John Randolph Carey seeks a ruling that his original sentence, imposed in March 2008, was invalid.

A dozen civil petitions since late 2012 have attacked the constitutionality of the state law that allows local governments to contract
with private, for-profit companies to provide probation services for misdemeanor offenders.

According to court records, Carey pleaded guilty March 24, 2008, in Richmond County State Court to driving under the influence, failure to maintain lane and driving on a suspended license. He was ordered to abide by electronic monitoring for alcohol use for 12 months as part of his three-year probation sentence.

The sentence should have expired March 24, 2011, according to the petition, but in April 2009, a Sentinel employee swore out a warrant against Carey that kept the sentence from expiring.

The warrant was never served on Carey. Two years later when he was arrested on a unrelated matter that was dismissed, he was sent to the Richmond County jail, where he has been since April 1.

On April 17, Judge David D. Watkins sentenced Carey to one year in jail and another year on probation for violating his original probation.

Carey’s attorneys are challenging the legality of Carey’s plea in 2008, the constitutionality of allowing a private company to use the judicial process to collect fees, the legality of electronic monitoring for misdemeanor offenses, and the constitutionality of extended probation sentences.

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Sentinel Offender Services’ insurance company has filed suit in federal court in California contending that it is not responsible for any financial losses Sentinel might have because of the lawsuits filed locally. Allied World Assurance Co. also wants Sentinel to reimburse the company for legal fees of more than $200,000.