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Sentinel employee says warrant procedures not always followed

Manager spoke of lax procedures

Friday, July 12, 2013 10:19 PM
Last updated 11:14 PM
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Some of the 5,000 warrants for probation violations sought by Sen­ti­nel Offender Services might be invalid because proper procedures weren’t followed, according to a manager for the private probation company.

Gina Childs, the manager of the Sentinel office in Augusta, testified in a June 28 deposition that company employees haven’t always sworn under oath before a notary public that the allegations set forth in seeking warrants are true. The law requires any arrest warrant to be sworn out before a notary or judicial official to be valid.

A restraining order is preventing any arrest of about 5,000 people with outstanding probation violation warrants signed by Richmond County State Court judges.

According to Childs’ testimony, Sentinel has not determined which of those warrants might be invalid.

Plaintiffs attorneys John B. Long, John R. Long and John C. Bell Jr. have filed 13 civil lawsuits in Richmond and Columbia Superior Courts challenging the constitutionality of the state law that allows local governments to contract with private, for-profit companies to provide probation services for misdemeanor offenders.

The suits also contend that Sentinel’s practices have led to violations of civil rights.

Superior Court Daniel J. Craig issued the temporary restraining order April 9 after plaintiffs’ attorneys presented examples of residents being arrested and jailed without bond based on probation violation warrants that contained false allegations, and on
warrants that had been dormant for years.

Attorneys for the Richmond County State Court judges and the sheriff, who were allowed to join in the civil lawsuits, contend the restraining order is interfering with their duties.

Craig has been pushing lawyers on all sides to finish their work in the case so he can rule on several motions that should move the cases forward and deal with the restraining order.

Before that can happen, he must have a full record of the case, which isn’t complete unless all sides agree to submit the deposition of Sentinel’s office manager. Sentinel insisted that Childs has the right to review the deposition before it is submitted and that she has 30 days to do so.

All sides have submitted their briefs, and on Friday the attorneys argued their points.

Craig told them that he would promptly issue rulings as soon as the record is complete.

On behalf of Sheriff Rich­ard Roundtree, attorney Aimee Sanders asked Craig to lift the restraining order.

Roundtree has been put on notice that some of the warrants might be invalid, Craig said, and warned that the sheriff and his
deputies could be personally liable for any unlawful arrest.

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brightside0711 07/13/13 - 12:46 am
Get these crooks out of Georgia

On a side note, I remember being on a jury in a murder trial in the early nineties. Danny Craig was prosecuting the case. He was so incompetent that we really wanted to rule in his favor, as the evidence was clear, but he never really prosecuted the case properly. He just kept repeating Bible verses to the jury. Now, he's a judge. Peter principle.

GiantsAllDay 07/13/13 - 02:03 am
Riverman1 07/13/13 - 03:29 am
Good A Way As Any

Sworn before a "notary public." You mean that guy at the liquor store with the stamp to notarize things for two bucks? But this seems like a good way as any to empty out the over crowded jail of nonviolent offenders.

dstewartsr 07/13/13 - 05:08 am
"... Craig ...warned that the sheriff

... and his deputies could be personally liable for any unlawful arrest."

As they should be. Sweet!

gargoyle 07/13/13 - 11:15 am
The Two dollar swearing puts

The Two dollar swearing puts a name on who made the accusations and holds that person and whoever they represent responsible to tell the truth . Without that step the accused can't face the person or entity rendering innocent until proven guilty impossible. Before penalties are enforced at the point of a gun the accuser has to put their name on paper, how hard is that.

Frank I
Frank I 08/20/13 - 12:44 pm
I'd guess...

I'd guess they probably employ at least one notary of their own.. that way they can ovoid the fee..

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