Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Video: To Prison for Poverty

To Prison for Poverty documents the system that enables private probation companies, such as Judicial Correction Services, to profit from charging excessive fees to low income people who can’t pay small fines like traffic tickets. If they can’t pay, they go to jail.

Judicial Correction Services (JCS) is a privately held probation company established in 2001 and based in Georgia. The company acts as a self-funding probation agency for local courts, mostly in the southeast United States. JCS is part of the highly lucrative private “extra-carceral” or “alternatives to incarceration” industry, which includes private halfway houses, probation services, and electronic monitoring. This industry is “offender-funded”, shifting the cost of probation onto probationers. The industry includes private institutions such as halfway houses, probation services. and electronic monitoring. In 2008, 2009 and 2010 JCS was listed by INC magazine as “the fastest growing company in the United States. In 2011 JCS was acquired by Correctional Healthcare Companies. In a July 2012 case regarding the contract between JCS and Harpersville, Alabama, Judge Hub Harrington accused JCS of egregious abuses which were akin to “debtors’ prison” and an “extortion racket” condoned by the elected officials of Harpersville in their aggressive pursuit of fines owed the Harpersville Municipal Court.

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