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Habeas petitions against Sentinel Offender Services will stay open

Monday, Feb. 11, 2013 2:46 PM
Last updated Sunday, Dec. 27, 2015 1:16 AM
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A judge denied a request Monday to dismiss civil cases against the private probation company Sentinel Offender Services.

Attorney James Ellington, representing Sentinel, argued that since Judge Daniel J. Craig issued a ruling last month that voided the misdemeanor convictions of four people, the habeas petitions filed on their behalf should be dismissed.

In the habeas petitions, attorneys for Clifford Hayes, Kelvin Ashley, Virginia Cash and Amanda Stephens contended not only should the four be released from jail, but that the Georgia law that allows local governments to hire private firms to provide probation services is unconstitutional, and that certain practices in Richmond County State Court are not legally enforceable.

Ellington’s argument sought dismissal of the additional claims on legal technicalities. The only issue for a habeas petition – a writ ordering a person in custody be brought before a court to determine if his incarceration is legal – is the petitioner’s freedom, Ellington said. Since Craig voided the four petitioners’ their state court convictions, the cases are over.

On behalf of Hayes, Ash­ley, Cash and Stephens, attorney John Bell countered that the other claims must be addressed because the alleged illegal and unconstitutional actions continue and will continue to be issues throughout Georgia.

Local governments may set up a government probation office or hire private firms to provide probation services for misdemeanor convictions. The state’s Department of Corrections has a probation department that supervises felony probation cases.

With Craig’s order Monday that keeps the habeas petitions open at this point, there are 10 civil actions in Richmond and Columbia counties against Sentinel.

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David Parker
David Parker 02/11/13 - 04:29 pm
THis all boils down over and

THis all boils down over and over to a case where what's good for teh goose is good for the probation services operation. They want to be in the business of enforcing law/order. Now that they have been found working outside the law, it's quite a quagmire no? I bet the farm, had one of the probationers wanted further adjudication toward their case, it wouldn't have received even a smidge of the attention this snowball gets. Sentinal should fold up and county gov should do the right thing. Alot of folks regret breaking the law, some didn't mean to in the first place, but they're still held accountable. Why is Sentinal getting such special consideration? The judiciary knows the situation and should correct the wrong that was done to the probationers.

That said, if no law was broken and it's just another situation where the little guys are gonna get stepped on, then meh, ACH should not write anything further on it.

dstewartsr 02/11/13 - 05:14 pm
Two tier justice

... at its worst. Don't see a scramble to prosecute Sentinel; does anyone else wonder how many in the (snicker) justice system here locally have business ties to the firm?

David Parker
David Parker 02/12/13 - 10:26 am
I don't wonder, I know this

I don't wonder, I know this area. Not a thing gets done in this town unless there is a kickback of some sort.

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