“You guys totally missed the point on the Sentinel piece you wrote. You know Judge (redacted)’s wife works for the monitoring company her husband puts on everyone who comes in front of him?”
Well. Yes and no. That is one of the biggest rumors in Augusta. Can we prove it? No. But we have heard it from law enforcement, attorneys, probationers who claim Sentinel employees told them, people on the street and in anonymous phone calls like the one we received above.
Looking at the Thomas John Barrett case, the absurdity of Joseph Heller’s novel “Catch-22” comes to mind.
Catch-22. A problematic situation for which the only solution is denied by a circumstance inherent in the problem or by a rule.
Arrested for shoplifting a $2 can of beer April 12, 2012, Mr. Barrett entered a plea of no contest on July 3, 2012. Having been homeless for three years, he was unrepresented by counsel. Under the sentence imposed by the court, there were no restrictions concerning the consumption of alcohol. He was, however, required to submit to an electronic monitoring device for six months and required to pay a start-up fee prior to his release from jail.
Barrett was brought back before the Court on August 2, 2012, and ordered to remain held for 45 days before being brought back before Judge Watkins. Barrett ultimately paid money to Sentinel in order to be released from jail and in order to start his SCRAM monitoring. In the meantime Barrett completed his community service with the soup kitchen.
On November 21, Sentinel swore out a warrant to have Bennett arrested based on his failure to pay court-ordered fines, fees, restitution and failure to comply with court ordered SCRAM, even though SCRAM was not ordered in his original sentence ($1,002 in SCRAM not paid).
“Catch-22 states that agents enforcing Catch-22 need not prove that Catch-22 actually contains whatever provision the accused violator is accused of violating.” Another character explains: “Catch-22 says they have a right to do anything we can’t stop them from doing.”
Barrett lives at the Bon Air apartments on public assistance, receives food stamps and sells his plasma to raise money to pay Sentinel. (Sentinel’s electronic monitoring device — the ankle bracelet — costs a probationer $6 per day with an $80 start-up fee. Sentinel’s SCRAM fee is $12 per day, plus start-up fees, and requires a separate land phone line.)
Sentinel has quoted the GSA the same monitoring device at $2.53 per day. A quote from Sentinel for SCRAM in Marion County, Indiana, was a total of $6.70 per day. It doesn’t take a math wiz to run the numbers on profitability.
Keep in mind it costs the taxpayers of Richmond County almost $50 a day to keep someone in jail.
Also keep in mind that if you live in Richmond County, your tax dollars are supplying the muscle to squeeze so much money from people like Barrett for the benefit of a for-profit company. That is where rumors come in. How is it permitted? What judges are ordering electronic monitoring for misdemeanor offenses?
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