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Judge issues restraining order against Sentinel

McGee's lawyers contend Sentinel violated ruling

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A judge placed a temporary restraining order Friday on a private probation company that continues to hound a mentally ill veteran for money his attorneys say he doesn't owe.

McGee  Special
Special
McGee


Hills McGee filed a lawsuit in Richmond County Superior Court against Sentinel Offender Services, and Judge Michael N. Annis signed the restraining order.

The temporary restraining order prevents Sentinel from taking any action against McGee and requires the company's representatives to explain to the judge why they should not be held in contempt of court.

McGee was jailed earlier this year for a probation violation, but Annis ordered his immediate release on Jan. 27. The judge voided and ruled unconstitutional the probation violation and underlying no-contest pleas in October 2008 to obstruction of a law officer and public drunkenness that put McGee in jail and forced him to use Sentinel.

There was no way the state could prove that McGee -- who lives on a $243 monthly disability check -- understood what he was doing when he gave up his rights to defense counsel in Richmond County State Court, the judge said.

The probation violation was based on McGee's failure to pay Sentinel $186 in supervision fees. Because Annis voided the convictions, McGee's lawyers contend he no longer owes anything as a condition of probation because he is not on probation.

According to the new lawsuit, however, Sentinel sent McGee letters dated March 8 and April 1 that accuse him of violating his probation by not paying the $186 or reporting to his probation officer.

The letters state that a no-bond warrant for McGee's arrest may be issued if he failed to report to Sentinel this week, according to a copy of one letter attached to the new lawsuit.

McGee's attorneys contend Sentinel should be punished for contempt of court for disobeying Annis' ruling and for attempting to collect a debt that is not owed.

The lawsuit further seeks to have class-action status, a ruling that the state law allowing private probation companies is unconstitutional, a finding that Sentinel has engaged in racketeering and the restriction of future use of non-bondable warrants against people who fail to pay Sentinel. It also seeks to put Sentinel out of business.

Sentinel will have the opportunity to counter each allegation. A hearing for the company has not been scheduled.

Comments (39) Add comment
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Emerydan
10
Points
Emerydan 04/17/10 - 01:06 am
0
0
The photo that should be run

The photo that should be run with this story is whoever runs Sentinel.. not Mr McGee//.. Why is he being portrayed as the criminal here? I'd like to see a photo of the president of this crooked company in your paper, not the person being railroaded by them.

ghsfrshmn
2
Points
ghsfrshmn 04/17/10 - 02:07 am
0
0
Get rid of sentinel, worst

Get rid of sentinel, worst company ive ever seen.

Trey Enfantay
9
Points
Trey Enfantay 04/17/10 - 04:33 am
0
0
Emerydan - I must agree with

Emerydan - I must agree with your comment today.

nofrills
0
Points
nofrills 04/17/10 - 05:01 am
0
0
Sentinel is nothing more than

Sentinel is nothing more than a bunch of thugs who have been allowed to use our courts to make huge profits for itself. A single mother of three who works and is not on welfare was placed on probation for speeding and no insurance. The Sentinel wanted to place her in jail because she could not pay for probation. If she couldn't afford insurance how is she going to pay for probation? She should of been givin some kind of work detail instead of probation. The courts need to stop sending people to the sentinel who can't pay! What is probation anyway? If it was up to me we would stop placing people on probation. we have fines, jail time, prison and work details.

overburdened_taxpayer
117
Points
overburdened_taxpayer 04/17/10 - 05:53 am
0
0
I don't know what Sentinel

I don't know what Sentinel does except collect money and send people back to jail. In this economy I can see where it would be very hard for some people to pay their fine let alone probation costs to a company that just sits there waiting for people to come through their door just to drop off their money. And that is what Sentinel calls checking in with your probation officer.

johnston.cliff
2
Points
johnston.cliff 04/17/10 - 06:33 am
0
0
No oversight on a poorly run

No oversight on a poorly run business. I smell fish.

justus4
109
Points
justus4 04/17/10 - 06:48 am
0
0
Where is the Tea Party when
Unpublished

Where is the Tea Party when ya need 'em? Now THIS is what they should be angry about! Ever heard of the US Constitution? This Sentinel operation is clearly a "go-between" the citizen and the due process outlined in the Constitution, so why no efforts to shut them down? Well, U guessed it: It destroys & ruins the lives of minority citizens mostly and generates big bucks that are used to support politicians, who in turn crafts certains laws to allow such operations to thrive. (a legal, corrupt operation) The prison industrial complex is guilty of the same kind of exploitation of poor people. So one guy has gotten some relief and tomorrow, these payments are still being paid. This questionable opereation is too big to fail and nothing will change until the politicians are asked to explain; Where in the Constitution does it state that fees/fines are paid for ones freedom? Oh, that judge is entirely correct in his decison and did exactly what the Courts are designed to do - protect the lest among us.

curly123053
5128
Points
curly123053 04/17/10 - 07:04 am
0
0
The State needs to subpoena

The State needs to subpoena all the records of Sentinel and see if they are unfairly targeting others. This is not the 1st time I heard their name brought up in this type of case. I bet there is a lot more we don't know about this bully outfit.

Runner46
0
Points
Runner46 04/17/10 - 07:06 am
0
0
It makes little sense to have

It makes little sense to have companies like Sentinel on the County payroll. Parolees have it hard enough trying to land a job. How can we also expect them to pay for their parole, too? This is a bad practice and needs to end.

Ayetidiosi
2
Points
Ayetidiosi 04/17/10 - 07:22 am
0
0
Sentinel exists because

Sentinel exists because municipalities are too politically correct and have not the balls to attempt to collect from CONVICTED CRIMINALS.
Avoid Sentinel easily: abide the laws of Richmond County. Any questions?

cleanup
0
Points
cleanup 04/17/10 - 07:28 am
0
0
Anybody with such a racist

Anybody with such a racist avatar should simply be ignored. Actually, the Chronicle shouldn't allow it.

Ayetidiosi
2
Points
Ayetidiosi 04/17/10 - 07:33 am
0
0
So the young black man from

So the young black man from Chicago who created this picture is a racist? Do you often criticize things of which you have no knowledge? Too bad. Political expression is still a right of any American Citizen. Go complain about the black power avatars. Ignore Ayetidiosi. I'm sure it's what you do best.

UncleBill
6
Points
UncleBill 04/17/10 - 07:45 am
0
0
In the desire to cut costs,

In the desire to cut costs, some government functions have been contracted out that probably out not be delegated to others.
I think it is a far stretch to imagine that someone apprehended, convicted, and sentenced by the government should then be sent to a private contractor for supervision. It muddies the water way too much about who is actually responsible.

Ayetidiosi
2
Points
Ayetidiosi 04/17/10 - 07:48 am
0
0
Uncle Bill? Aye means no

Uncle Bill? Aye means no disrespect, for the answer to this question is unknown: Have you ever had to make such decisions (such as the decision to hire out probation to Sentinel)?

"It muddies the water way too much about who is actually responsible."
Aye must disagree: the OFFENDER is responsible, every single time.
Avoid Sentinel: abide the laws in Richmond County.

TonyT
0
Points
TonyT 04/17/10 - 07:47 am
0
0
I agree with Emerydan, this

I agree with Emerydan, this is the second or third story I beleive, concerning Mr McGee and Sentinel. So why are you keep running Mr McGee's photo? Ayetidiosi, what in the hell are you talking about anyway? - nevermind - my bad - no need

Ayetidiosi
2
Points
Ayetidiosi 04/17/10 - 07:51 am
0
0
TonyT: Agreed on use of Mr.

TonyT: Agreed on use of Mr. McGhee's photo being inappropriate. 100% They've even got the poor fellow's photo on every "headline" page currently. Shame on the AC.

tmyboy6988
0
Points
tmyboy6988 04/17/10 - 07:51 am
0
0
since when did it become a

since when did it become a crime to follow the judges order. Sentinel is a service provided by the court system to allow people to serve their jail time on the street. Sentinel does not decided how much a fine is the judge does, they cannot lock somebody up with out a judges order.Its just like anything else in life you do the crime you do the time. So when the disabled man decided to not pay his bills is the judge going to order a tro against the bill collectors. Sentinel is just like any other business, they too want to make money. But of all this money people are paying to sentinel is on taking 35 dollars, the rest is what the judge is making them pay. If you dont want to pay just take your year in jail, and then you dont have to worry about it

Brad Owens
4859
Points
Brad Owens 04/17/10 - 08:09 am
0
0
Ayetidiosi, Yes, but what

Ayetidiosi,

Yes, but what does it cost the county to put these guys in jail on a parole violation for their $186 dollar fee?

I see smoke here,

Brad

Westside Liberal
12
Points
Westside Liberal 04/17/10 - 08:17 am
0
0
Who said crime doesn't pay?

Who said crime doesn't pay? I urge our Georgia State Legislature and the Governor work together to put these "Outlaws" out of business. Why are we allowing Sentinel to profit from the "have nots"; it's like Debtor Prison. It's a through back to Colonial America. HEY! Isn't this what those in the Tea (Turn Back the Hands of Time) Party want!

butler123
1
Points
butler123 04/17/10 - 08:19 am
0
0
This company needs to be put

This company needs to be put out of business, but that being said these judges are just swinging the old gavel and not taking these people's personal situations into consideration. Why order someone like this to pay anything to begin with, so they can arrest them again in a month? Just give them a little community service.

Ayetidiosi
2
Points
Ayetidiosi 04/17/10 - 08:21 am
0
0
What a concept: committing a

What a concept: committing a crime and paying a high price. It'll never catch on.

tmyboy6988
0
Points
tmyboy6988 04/17/10 - 08:24 am
0
0
No matter if its private or

No matter if its private or state ran, you still have to pay your probation fee. Do you really think just because the state takes it over you dont have to pay anymore. Nope, it will cause more people to go to jail because the state doesn't have time to look, or deal with people that think they are better than everybody else and not pay. At least private groups try to work with people. If you at least show up when you are suppose to they will work with you if you dont have your money.

TonyT
0
Points
TonyT 04/17/10 - 08:26 am
0
0
tmyboy6988, are you going to

tmyboy6988, are you going to be representing Sentinel? Guess they can start boarding the place up now. I agree if you do the crime, you do the time, but I think your missing something here. Did you read the article or the previous articles? Or maybe I'm the one missing something, I also beleive Judge Annis knows the law better than I do and you to for that matter.

tmyboy6988
0
Points
tmyboy6988 04/17/10 - 08:35 am
0
0
the original no-contest pleas

the original no-contest pleas in October 2008 to obstruction of a law officer and public drunkenness that put McGee in jail and forced him to use Sentinel, is what judge Annis found to be unconstitutional which causes the probation violation invalid. Is it Sentinels fault for him being put on probation or is it the state court judge that sent him to probation back in 2008.

Ayetidiosi
2
Points
Ayetidiosi 04/17/10 - 08:42 am
0
0
Aye hopes his previous posts

Aye hopes his previous posts did nothing to condone the treatment of Mr McGhee. If they did so, I apologize. Let the AC establish a benefit fund, let us all contribute, and let us all help this man out of this bind. Shouldn't take 10 minutes with the kindness of the average AC poster to raise $200.

disssman
6
Points
disssman 04/17/10 - 09:04 am
0
0
Why is there probation

Why is there probation anyway? Either you are guilty of a crime and spend time in jail or you are not. I really believe that except for capitol crimes, a persons record should be cleared period. But in any event, you can bet that our elected officials (lawyers primarilly) allowed this travesty to occur. And it is a safe bet that nothing will be changed in the law because of the money involved. We have the best law money can buy.

TonyT
0
Points
TonyT 04/17/10 - 09:12 am
0
0
tmyboy6988, I don't know,

tmyboy6988, I don't know, maybe should asked Judge Annis and Mr McGee's representatives those questions, and if they don't know, then maybe you should school them both a little and close the book on this chapter. Sounds like you and Sentinel have a solid case now, no leaks anywhere. Who you betting on Ayetidiosi?

KatieLou
0
Points
KatieLou 04/17/10 - 09:34 am
0
0
This sounds something like

This sounds something like debtors prison to me.

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 04/17/10 - 09:43 am
0
0
While I agree that the poor

While I agree that the poor cannot pay fines because they do not have any money and it is just a revolving door for them. The taxpayer of Richmond County would be saddled with paying for the care of the offender if in jail. Sentinal intercedes now and sometimes with strongarm tactics on those that refuse to do right. Do right and you will never have to pay the probation fees or fines. Ride down there on a Friday afternoon and see if you would invite any of the people in line over for dinner that night. I suspect not. Richmond County does not have the money to put all these people in jail and the property owners should never be saddled with that kind of debt to take care of these types of people. We already pay enough. That said, Sentinal should abide by the judges ruleing. I agree with some of the posters that community service should be given and we could have clean streets and public buildings.

dichotomy
36135
Points
dichotomy 04/17/10 - 11:05 am
0
0
Well justus4, the TEA Party

Well justus4, the TEA Party is not normally part of the criminal element and therefore not usually exposed to things like probation and such. Consequently the problem with Sentinel is not at the forefront of their concerns what with the Communists running loose terrorizing the taxpayer and the Constitution. However I do agree with you that the contracting out of this function of the judicial system and allowing the use of the judicial system to ensure the profits of this unsupervised and unregulated contractor is wrong and should be outlawed. Allowing a company to make a profit by kicking people who are already down is just not morally right in my opinion. I have no problem with people being placed on supervised probation and having to pay a reasonable fee to the county to reimburse the collective cost of probation officers. But allowing those fees to be magnified tremendously to provide profit to a kickback contractor who, in turn, uses our tax paid for law enforcement officers and courts to enforce their profit margin should not be allowed. Besides, if someone wasn't making so much money on this contract probation deal maybe we could get a few of these judges to actually put a few people in jail instead of giving them probation.

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