Industry misunderstood

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Media coverage of the private probation industry has been rife with misinformation portraying service providers as concerned only with profit. As the largest private provider of probation services in Georgia, Sentinel Offender Services has been a leader in working with courts and offenders to ensure optimal outcomes while saving Georgia taxpayers millions of dollars every year.

Opponents have claimed our industry pushes for longer sentences to increase our revenue by collecting monthly probation fees for a longer period of time, but that is not correct. Imposing sentences is strictly at the discretion of the courts; probation service providers have no say in either the length of probation or the amount of fines judges levy against offenders.

Probationers with minor offenses may benefit from concurrent probation sentences, allowing them to pay generally lower fines and move out of the system more quickly. But probationers with more serious offenses may receive consecutive sentences – giving them a longer window to pay larger fines. Longer probation sentences also give the court more time to monitor offenders’ progress in addressing the underlying issues that may have led to their criminal activity.

Despite what our opponents contend, Sentinel supports capping fees so total probation fees do not exceed the total of other court-ordered financial obligations. By doing so, we would collect the same total fee regardless of whether an offender’s sentences are concurrent or consecutive.

In addition to capping fees, we support numerous other industry best practices such as increased reporting to courts about offender status, increased fee transparency and multi-tiered fee scales, among others. Sentinel is committed to ensuring the private probation industry continues to benefit the offenders, courts and communities we serve.

(The writer is chief business development officer of Sentinel Offender Services.)

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Riverman1
83807
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Riverman1 04/26/14 - 06:53 am
7
1
Mighty Nice of You

"Despite what our opponents contend, Sentinel supports capping fees so total probation fees do not exceed the total of other court-ordered financial obligations."

Well, isn't that just dandy. You take all you can in fees right up to the point where there is no more. Mighty nice of you.

gaflyboy
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gaflyboy 04/26/14 - 07:47 am
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This is a good example ...

of how twisted our sense of government has become.

Sentinel Offender Services, LLC is a for profit business. As such, the statement “Media coverage of the private probation industry has been rife with misinformation portraying service providers as concerned only with profit” is a little silly. Of course there are other concerns, but profit is the number one concern of any successful business, as it should be in free market society.

The problem, as I see it, is that in the U.S. the most important functions of government are to ensure justice and provide for the common defense. This is why we have a military, police and a judicial system. That is what taxpayers pay the government for and it should be provided directly.

We have a capitalist, free market society which is at the core of our success as a nation, but for profit businesses have no business being a part of our justice system.

While government is farming out justice to the lowest bidder, it entrenches itself deeper into areas in which it has no business … ie: investing in mortgages for private houses, hiring firms from foreign countries to build solar farms and windmills, healthcare and paying for anti-Semitic books for children in Pakistan.

avidreader
3215
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avidreader 04/26/14 - 09:10 am
3
5
Taxpayer Relief!

As I have stated on multiple occasions, I'd rather have Sentinel running the show than a city/state bureaucracy rife with employees who have no fear of losing their jobs due to inefficiency. And then, there's a matter of benefits, including health insurance and retirement. And God forbid should our county commission have a say-so as to the goings-on at the probation office -- a nightmare to consider.

I do have a problem with the lack of transparency of Sentinel; however, the Governor can DEAL with this problem if he will send the current House bill back to the House and have them make some adjustments.

I think the concept of private probation is a good idea even though there will always be some kinks in the system.

grouse
1635
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grouse 04/26/14 - 10:50 am
0
0
Some elements of government
Unpublished

Some elements of government should not be subcontracted out to for-profit industries. This industry, along with private prisons, is one of them.

GiantsAllDay
9583
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GiantsAllDay 04/26/14 - 12:01 pm
5
1
Contestabile sure has a big

Contestabile sure has a big set of brass ones, doesn't he? My guess is that this LTE is a result of his higher ups directing him to defend the indefensible. Bottom line is, stay out of trouble in Augusta, GA. I don't always agree with ACES, but I am with them on this. This is where the first admendmemt freedom of the press is so important. The Chronicle is our best shot on fighting against the political corruption and the corporate greed of Sintenel (yes, I spelled it with an "i"--"if god was here, he'd tell ya to your face, man you're some kind of sinner"). Keep going, Chronicle, don't give up.

burninater
9580
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burninater 04/26/14 - 04:46 pm
2
2
"As I have stated on multiple

"As I have stated on multiple occasions, I'd rather have Sentinel running the show than a city/state bureaucracy rife with employees who have no fear of losing their jobs due to inefficiency."
------
Are you kidding me? Municipal and state employees know that their job is ALWAYS just the stroke of a budgetary pen away from getting eliminated.

The issue is this -- does the difference in efficiency between a state agency and a for-profit agency exceed the latter's profit margin? If the profit margin is greater than the efficiency gain, then this arrangement is a net loss for the taxpayer.

Included in that efficiency calculation is the added costs of auditing and oversight of the private contractor, because as gaflyboy aptly points out, profit is an amoral entity. If it is in profit's interest to maximize injustice to maximize profit, it will so do.

Gage Creed
17203
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Gage Creed 04/26/14 - 11:05 pm
0
0
Hey Mark... why don't you

Hey Mark... why don't you answer this? If I am able to fully pay my fine for a misdemeanor at the time of sentencing... Why would I have to be enrolled in Sentinels program and pay probation fees?

It sounds fishy to me that you can't even pay the fine at the "trial."

Your business model is definitely "coin-operated" and your procedures are geared to maintain the revenue stream.

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