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Echoes and Mirrors» Blog Archive » Nothing fishy here. Move along.

Nothing fishy here. Move along.

Here’s an article that basically spells out why privately contracted probation is wrong:

She described the case of Hills McGee, a man who was originally charged with public drunkenness and obstruction of a law enforcement officer back in October 2008.

After spending the night in jail after his arrest, McGee appeared in state court to face the charges. Although McGee was indigent, he signed a form that waived his rights to an attorney and entered a guilty plea.

McGee was sentenced to 12 months on each count to run consecutively and was ordered to pay a fine of $270 and a monthly probation supervision fee of $30 per month plus a $9 monthly fee for the state’s Crime Victims Compensation Program.

Even though McGee completed 41 hours of community service in lieu of the $270 fine, because he was indigent, his probation wasrevoked because he couldn’t pay the $186 in fees he owed Sentinel, according to Long’s petition filed in Richmond County Superior Court.

As a result, McGee was thrown into jail.

And here’s another tasty bit from the same article. I found this one out myself several months ago first-hand and was appalled. Anytime it comes up in discussion, I make it my civic duty to inform them that there is no such thing as a free defense attorney in these parts:

“I am asking, is it constitutional to come in and tell people that there is a $50 application fee for a court-appointed attorney when the Constitution says, if you are indigent and a judge has the power to put you in jail, you are entitled to have a lawyer at no charge,” Long said, adding a judge can waive the $50 fee if the defendant is indigent. “It disturbs me that people are being treated that way.”

On March 18, 1963, in the landmark case of Gideon v. Wainwright, the U.S.Supreme Court established the right to alawyer for any poor criminal defendant charged in felony cases, stating “lawyers in criminal cases are necessities, not luxuries.”

That’s right: you have to pay $50 to be represented… or prove that you can’t scrape up $50. Depending on the charges, most people might find it less frustrating (albeit more expensive) to just pony up the fine money and carry on with their lives.

I should probably just keep my mouth shut if I don’t want the the sheriff’s department knocking on my door anytime soon, so I’ll just quickly mention how the Augusta-Richmond County Commission just decided not to install parking meters downtown in an attempt to raise revenue. The plan would have called for a private contractor to provide the meter maids. Whose paychecks (and likely, bonuses) would be provided by a portion of the revenue raised by parking tickets. Thankfully the citizens of Richmond County were vocal enough to stop that from happening.

Law enforcement is probably the only thing I can think of that the government should have a monopoly on. As a lefty-libertarian, I actually support public education (although it certainly needs a reboot). The rest of it… no.

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