Salon weighed in recently with this thoughtful piece and accompanying video, building on new research from Human Rights Watch, on how the drive for profits can distort probation systems and ultimately discriminate against poor offenders in the criminal justice system. These systems have become increasingly fee-oriented and therefore are vulnerable to private corporations that stand to profit from punitive strategies that keep people trapped in the probation system. If public officials choose to outsource a function like probation to private corporations, they must provide adequate public oversight. Sadly, building in the resources and rules for effective oversight is often just that—an oversight. Here’s what Salon had to say:
A report released Wednesday by Human Rights Watch (HRW) highlights how private companies charged with overseeing the probation of hundreds of thousands of misdemeanor probation sentences every year “trample” some of America’s poorest with “discriminatory” penalty fees.
The report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry,” details how in several states, private firms with little-to-no oversight or regulation supervise draconian probation plans, which hits the poorest the hardest. Many of these probation cases relate to unpaid fees in the first, rendering the probation charges disproportionately punitive for the poorest offenders.