The recent column, This time they did it right, ignored numerous benefits provided by the private probation industry in Georgia. Probation companies deliver a cost effective and valuable service that enhances public safety, while supervising approximately 250,000 probationers and working with more than 600 municipal, state, probate and superior courts.
The author suggests that a $2,000 a year probation charge is typical, when in fact charges that high are rare and often related to electronic monitoring. Also, the columnist cites a state audit report that was critical of the system; however, he failed to recognize private probation companies have already taken steps to implement positive changes.
The industry remains a highly effective component of Georgia’s justice system, but there’s room for improvement. For example, some providers are working to implement best practices such as a signed contract with every court for which a company provides services, and clearly setting fees, performance standards and guidelines for probationers and service providers. Also, increased transparency during the selection of providers and improved reporting about the status of all probationers should be embraced.
Other practices include courts establishing criteria for determining if an offender is indigent and which offenders meet that definition.
In closing, every private probation provider in Georgia wants the system to be the best it can. We recognize that by continuing to enhance transparency private probation providers will best be able to benefit offenders, courts and the communities we serve.
– Mark Contestabile,
Sentinel Offender Services