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Sentinel Offender Services cuts ties with Richmond, Columbia County Superior Court

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Faced with a barrage of lawsuits and judges’ reluctance to sign a contract, the private probation company Sentinel Offender Services cut all ties with Superior Court this week.



On Thursday, the company’s chief business development officer, Mark Contestabile, announced Sentinel’s departure in a statement released through Phil Kent Consulting.

“Sentinel provided a new contract for services to the Court for consideration and asked to receive signature as soon as possible. Because the Court has not yet signed the new contract, and because of circumstances arising from the barrage of lawsuits filed by Jack Long, Sentinel was left with no choice but to suspend its operations in the Superior Courts of Richmond and Columbia County as of December 19, 2012,” the statement said.

Long responded Thursday that it seems apparent Sentinel acknowledges that its employees had no authority to obtain arrest warrants because it had no contract.

Earlier this week, Chief Judge J. Carlisle Overstreet told The Augusta Chronicle that he recently asked Sentinel and two other private probation companies to submit proposals, as is often done when a government seeks bids.

Sentinel provided probation services for the Superior Court for people convicted of misdemeanor charges for the past 12 years.

In the statement, Contest­abile referred to the company’s request for an updated contract, but no contract with Sentinel appears to have been signed by either county’s government, according to a search of public records.

A series of civil lawsuits filed by Long against Sentinel in recent weeks contends that the company lacks legal authority to operate in Columbia County because there isn’t a contract. The suits say that Sentinel employees have had probationers arrested and jailed on unconstitutional grounds.

Although the state provides probation services for those convicted of felony offenses, the law was changed in 2001 to turn over the responsibility for misdemeanor probation services to local governments. The law lays out how a local government can do that by creating its own probation office or by hiring a private company.

Overstreet said this week that he also intends to talk with county leaders about the possibility of setting up internal probation offices.

Long first challenged the concept of private probation services in 2008. Though the suit was successful for the plaintiff, the Georgia courts didn’t rule on the constitutionality of a private, for-profit entity performing a judicial function. Long raised the issue again in a case pending before the federal appeals court in Atlanta.

In the recent lawsuits in Richmond and Columbia courts, the constitutionality of the use of private probation is challenged again.

Comments (3) Add comment
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Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 12/21/12 - 08:53 am
1
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Good for Jack Long. Holding

Good for Jack Long. Holding that entity accountable is a service to our community. They have done a sorry job.

Willow Bailey
20605
Points
Willow Bailey 12/21/12 - 08:55 am
0
0
Good for Jack Long. Holding

Good for Jack Long. Holding that entity accountable is a service to our community. They have done a sorry job.

GiantsAllDay
10519
Points
GiantsAllDay 12/21/12 - 01:22 pm
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Sentinel Offender Services

Sentinel Offender Services cuts ties with Richmond, Columbia County Superior Court. They should have cut ties with all of American society.

daphne3520
950
Points
daphne3520 12/21/12 - 03:03 pm
0
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drdarkwing
3
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drdarkwing 12/29/12 - 04:48 am
1
0
So I'm just S.O.L.?

I mailed my payment December 19th. who wants to bet Richmond County never receives record of this? Any takers? Not only did I waste $70 dollars ($36 monthly probation fee), but now those boners at Sentinel most likely pocketed the cash and told RCSD I'm wanted. I hate this backwards city and its horribly unprofessional policies and procedures. for the record: I was sentenced to 3 years probation and $8** for 2 speeding tickets....one 7 mph over and one 9 mph over. Go Georgia!...the state that continues to prove that the US is not as informed as we like to think we are!!!!

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