Monday, December 29, 2014

Private probation company threatens innocent parents of dying child with jail if they don’t pay court fees

 Tim Fugatt (Screen shot)
More cities are turning to private probation companies like Judicial Corrections Services (JCS) in order to collect unpaid fines — but, PBS NewsHour reports, they are doing so unconstitutionally, by threatening to imprison debtors.
Tim Fugatt was pulled over in December of 2010 and ticketed for having an expired tag on his license plate. He had been returning home from the hospital where his infant son, Cole, was being treated for a rare brain disease.
He and his wife, Kristy, who had also been ticketed, were ordered to appear in Childersburg municipal court. After informing the judge about their son’s condition, the judge found them both “not guilty” — however, he did order them to pay “court costs” that added up to almost $500.
Because of the time Fugatt was spending at the hospital, he was unable to maintain regular employment and fell behind on his scheduled payments, which forced the city to turn their case over to JCS. When he and his wife were unable to pay, they were arrested.
“I felt completely like a criminal. I mean I didn’t sell drugs. I didn’t break into anyone’s home. I didn’t kill anybody. I had an expired tag.”
“I had a dying child, no steady job at that point because we were back and forth to the hospital,” he added. “I was doing what I could do.”

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