Georgia high court grants Sentinel request

 

Georgia’s Supreme Court has granted a private probation company’s emergency request that will allow Richmond County State Court judges to go back to imposing electronic monitoring.

The order also clears the way for the judges to keep a misdemeanor probationer under the court’s control after an original sentence has expired if Sentinel Offender Services accuses the person of violating terms of probation.

Judge Daniel J. Craig had prohibited both practices in a ruling last month. The Supreme Court order granted Sentinel a stay pending an appeal.

The Supreme Court order was filed Thursday, according to the court’s electronic docket, and will remain in effect until the court rules on Sentinel’s appeal.

Sentinel’s attorneys are appealing a Sept. 16 order from Craig in which he ruled that state law prohibits private probation companies from performing certain tasks, including electronic monitoring and “tolling” – stopping a sentence from expiring.

Civil lawsuits against Sentinel are still pending in Superior Court in Richmond and Columbia counties, but rulings in class-action lawsuits can be appealed before a final decision is rendered.

In its petition to the Supreme Court, Sentinel contends that Craig’s order effectively ends all probation services for private probation companies. The administration of justice will be dismantled if Sentinel’s request isn’t granted because Richmond County State Court judges will be
left powerless, the petition contends.

Plaintiff’s attorney John B. Long said via e-mail Thursday that the Supreme Court decision was made before any brief could be filed on behalf of the plaintiffs. Their side might ask the court to reconsider, Long said.

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