Rampant privatization is leading to collateral consequences. In almost every possible part of the criminal justice process, privatization results in a system that disproportionately punishes the indigent. Now the International Business Times reports
there is a new way that for-profit justice is ruining the lives of the poor: GPS tracking.
In South Carolina, a traffic violation resulted in the arrest and $2,100 bail of Antonio Green, a father of five. One of the conditions of his bail was being forced to wear an electronic monitoring device. And not only did have to wear it—he had to pay for it. According to the article, "In Richland County, South Carolina, any person ordered to wear the ankle monitor as a condition of their bail must lease the bracelet from a private, for-profit company called Offender Management Services (OMS)."
Green was living on $900 a month, but was charged a $179.50 set-up fee, plus $9.25 a day to wear the device. In other words, the device ended up costing him half his monthly income that first month, and a third of his income every month after.
He didn't have much of a choice. After all, those that can't pay go back to jail. Keep reading to find out what happened next.
From the International Business Times:
"This arrangement reflects an opportunistic pitch by prison-oriented technology companies that has found favor with budget-minded government officials. In effect, companies like OMS have allowed municipalities like Richland County to save the costs of monitoring offenders by having the offenders pay themselves. The county wins, the company wins and people like Green find themselves confronting additional drains on their limited means."
Green paid a total of about $2,500 for the device over nine months, during which he "had gone broke, racked up debt from overdraft fees, and spiraled into anxiety over his finances." And it looked like he'd have to wait another year before trial, which would have cost another $3,600 at least.
He couldn't afford that money. Slowly, it became an untenable burden on him and his family. So last month, he turned himself in.
When Green got to the courthouse, he found out some interesting news: His case had actually been thrown out two months earlier.
No one had thought to let him know. Surprising, as they knew where he was every moment and were still managing to collect his money.
This is not an isolated incident. Counties and states across the nation are not only tracking individuals but forcing them to pay for it. For someone like Antonio Green, a traffic violation turned into an unbearable financial burden.
What's more, the actual monitoring of defendants, especially those who have not committed serious crimes, is in itself terrifying. People are paying significant money for the complete loss of their privacy.
For more on this story, see the International Business Times article here.