Sentinel barred from seeking arrest warrants in Columbia County Superior Court

Sentinel barred from seeking arrest warrants

Monday, Dec. 10, 2012 2:01 PM
Last updated 9:05 PM
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After a fourth lawsuit was filed against the private probation firm Sentinel Offender Services, a judge signed an order Friday that prevents the company from jailing people who are serving misdemeanor probation sentences imposed in Columbia County Superior Court.

Sentinel consented to the order signed by Judge Daniel J. Craig, who has been assigned to preside over all civil lawsuits pending against Sentinel. The latest case, like the others, alleges illegal arrest and incarceration. Pamela L. Tennille’s lawsuit adds to the claims that Sentinel is acting illegally as a probation service in Columbia County because it doesn’t have a contract with the county commission, as required by Georgia law.

Tennille was sentenced May 16 to 12 months’ probation and fined $200 for disorderly conduct, court records show. In addition to the fine, Tennille was required to pay $70 for surcharges and a $39 monthly probation fee to Sentinel.

According to Sentinel receipts filed with Tennille’s lawsuit, she made monthly payments to Sentinel and paid off the court fine and surcharges Sept. 17.

In October, Tennille’s probation officer charged not only Sentinel’s $39 monthly fee but also $25 for a drug test. According to court records, however, the judge never ordered drug tests for Tennille as a condition of her probation.

By imposing the drug tests, Sentinel increased its own income, the suit contends. The lawsuit further alleges that as a private, for-profit company, Sentinel rewards employees with bonuses for increasing company income.

According to court records, Sentinel probation officer Barbara Christine filed a petition presented to Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet that accused Tennille of violating her probation by failing to report to her probation officer and testing positive on the drug screening.

She was arrested and released Dec. 5, but was ordered to report to the Sentinel office the next day or face another arrest.

Attorney John Long filed Tennille’s lawsuit and three other suits against Sentinel, including a class-action lawsuit in Columbia County Superior Court on behalf of everyone sentenced to misdemeanor probation while Sentinel has operated without a contract with the county.

Comments (15) Add comment
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Sweet son
11057
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Sweet son 12/10/12 - 02:44 pm
6
0
Sounds like...........

Sentinel is about making money and not about probation or the records management associated with the job! Sounds like a good reason for Columbia County to dissolve their relationship with Sentinel!

Little Lamb
47848
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Little Lamb 12/10/12 - 03:05 pm
2
0
Contract

It would be interesting to find out whether Sentinel and the County Commission are working on getting a contract signed. How hard could it be?

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 12/10/12 - 05:05 pm
4
5
Wonder how much

... "squeaky clean" Judge Craig, Overstreet and all the other "put 'em back on the street" jurists are making in kickbacks on this illegal scam? Sure explains the fast turnarounds for probation, doesn't it? It would explain why it's been going on for so long. Anyone want to lay a bet that no one goes to jail over this decades long criminal conspiracy?

LillyfromtheMills
14014
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LillyfromtheMills 12/10/12 - 06:53 pm
1
2
longarm

I agree

Patty-P
3516
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Patty-P 12/10/12 - 08:20 pm
2
0
Actually

I've heard they do go soft on criminals. I think they all do. There is money to be made off of crime either way you look at it.

dstewartsr
20389
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dstewartsr 12/10/12 - 09:35 pm
2
3
Longarm,

... pity you cannot understand how foolish you appear when you post "faceless internet troll" when my name is prominently displayed on each of my posts, while you anonymously hide under the bridge, so to speak.

dstewartsr
20389
Points
dstewartsr 12/10/12 - 09:42 pm
2
3
Question is

... why has this gone on so long? Are the judges and sheriff's department that appallingly ignorant of the law? If so, why are they still on the bench? Does that make the sheriff and his minions party to multiple, multple counts of false arrest, false imprisonment, and kidnapping? My explanation makes sense, unless everyone involved is criminally stupid.

urright
465
Points
urright 12/11/12 - 08:31 am
2
1
ds...

Kickbacks? Where are you getting your info? Why are you bringing the SO into this? They have no control over who is put on probation or probation violation warrants. I'm not understanding your "explanation" of anything. Sounds to me like someone you know or are related to got arrested, so it must be a conspiracy.

GiantsAllDay
10232
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GiantsAllDay 12/11/12 - 08:44 am
1
0
I hope every one of those

I hope every one of those crooks at sentinel gets to spend some time in jail

LillyfromtheMills
14014
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LillyfromtheMills 12/11/12 - 08:58 am
0
0
GAD

This is one time I agree w/you.

daphne3520
950
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daphne3520 12/11/12 - 09:38 am
0
0
Get RID of Sentel No text
Unpublished

nt

Little Lamb
47848
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Little Lamb 12/11/12 - 10:11 am
1
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Debtor’s Prison

The heart of this lawsuit strikes at one of the founding principles of the New World. In some countries, they throw you in jail for not paying your debts. You sit there in jail until a family member pays the debt off. Indeed, the government does not even feed you when you are in debtor's prison. Your family has to provide your meals.

America was founded on the principle that no one should be thrown in jail for not paying a debt. Yes, the creditor has claim on your assets (current and future), but the creditor does not have claim on your physical freedom.

This lawsuit shows that Sentinel turned the Richmond County and Columbia County sheriff's offices into a de facto debtor's prison when these probationers did not pay Sentinel's fees. I hope attorney John Long wins these lawsuits.

No_Longer_Amazed
5143
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No_Longer_Amazed 12/11/12 - 10:33 am
1
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Does the same company service A-RC?

I am still waiting for the first cent of restitution from a September 30 2011 incident.

MarinerMan
2107
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MarinerMan 12/11/12 - 12:12 pm
2
0
Slimeballs. It is my wish
Unpublished

Slimeballs. It is my wish that Sentinel loses every dime to their name, and the principals are all jailed. Greed.

urright
465
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urright 12/11/12 - 12:37 pm
0
1
Debtor's prison?

According to the article, this woman was given 12 months probation, along with the fine and surcharges. Just because she paid those off doesn't mean her probation ended. I don't like Sentinel either, but if you don't follow the rules of your probation, you go to jail. The bottom line is the county didn't sign off and that's where the problem lies, not with the people who are trying to get off probation early.

urright
465
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urright 12/11/12 - 12:40 pm
0
1
And another thing...

Why hasn't anybody mentioned her FAILING a drug screen and not reporting when she was supposed to? If you don't go to work and fail a drug screen, don't you expect that you will be fired? Why is PROBATION any different?

twolane
191
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twolane 12/11/12 - 01:39 pm
0
1
kickbacks
Unpublished

first a prominent judges wife owns a large part of the company that provides the ankle monitors...plus bells dui has been raking in the cash due to this system....lastly a judge determines your probation guidelines...if he did not order drug tests as part of your probation then you can fail as many as you like

David Parker
7923
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David Parker 12/11/12 - 03:02 pm
1
0
CONVICTED criminals don't

CONVICTED criminals don't have the backing of the establishment, so they can sit and suck eggs while the illegalities of a county-backed commercial organization are acknowledged and the process plays out in its own time. Whether any repercussions are imposed remains to be seen, but I can say with confidence that the process of investigation will not be a transparent one. Is it legal to resolve things with a retroactive contract, implemented and passed by the judge and commissioners? I figure Sentinel will be granted impunity and this resolution would be a way for it to look legit on the surface.

jbartley
611
Points
jbartley 12/11/12 - 06:32 pm
0
1
Its about time!

Good job Judge Craig!

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