Sentinel lawsuit heads to Supreme Court

ATLANTA, GA (WFXG) - The lawsuit against Sentinel Offender Services began oral arguments at the Supreme Court in Atlanta.

"If you not only want to sit here and steal from people, take their money, and treat them wrong - but you're not even legally supposed to be working do that," said Jacob Glover.

Glover is just one several people involved in a lawsuit against Sentinel Offender Services - a private probation service - which the plaintiffs claim didn't have a contract to operate approved by the Columbia County Board of Commissioners.

"This system serves solely to enrich the pockets of a private corporation, to keep people into the thing," said John Bell, attorney for the plaintiffs. "You don't even go on probation in most of these cases except if you don't have money to pay the fine."

In the Supreme Court this week, the plaintiffs also claimed the company kept collecting fees past the end date of probation periods.

"There is no way, no how, a probation officer should be able to extend a person's probation period because of money," said Glover.

The case has made it to the supreme court because of an appeal by Sentinel.

Augusta Circuit Superior Court Judge Daniel Craig previously ruled that private probation companies are prohibited from lengthening a defendant's sentence and charging for electronic monitoring or drug counseling.

Sentinel argues they did have a contract, with the former chief judge of superior court.

A decision is expected within six months.

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