Just days after four people were freed from jail because Judge David Watkins failed to properly inform them of their rights to a trial, Watkins came before the Finance Committee looking for money to pay for a new case manager for his DUI Accountability Court.
In one year, Watkins said, the court had more than doubled the number of people they expected to participate in it, necessitating the new employee.
We just need help, he told commissioners, saying the new employee would act as both a probation officer for the court and as an assistant manager for the program. Job requirements would consist of a college degree, some type of probation experience and some type of social work or counseling. The position would pay $75,000.
At the same time, the Public Defender’s Office is requesting additional lawyers at $70,000 a piece.
It’s interesting to note, however, that the person heading up the program is Crystal Paige, a former employee of Sentinel Offender Services, the for-profit probation company at the center of Watkins’ current headache.
In fact, it’s Paige’s testimony in a 2008 case against Lisa Harrelson that attorney Jack Long is so anxious to start talking about. There, she admits that there is a bonus plan in place for Sentinel employees and that the company makes a profit off of electronic monitoring as well as other services. Since those services are paid for directly by the offenders themselves, the profit comes directly from them, too.
Watkins told commissioners he was doing what he could to come in under budget and was hoping to make it clear that his court doesn’t over promise or under promise. It just gets things done. You Might Also Like: