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Alabama State Sen. Cam Ward believes private probation companies can serve a useful purpose.
“There's a role for it, because there's a lot of municipalities [that] have no way in the world of collecting a lot of those fines and fees. And that's not fair to them,” Ward told America Tonight. “Privatizing part of it’s fine as long as there's good, proper government oversight to make sure it's being carried out properly.”
Earlier this year, Ward introduced legislation to better regulate the industry, including more oversight and training, which failed to pass.
“If I get a $100 fine or citation I should be required to pay it and there should be a method to collect it,” Ward said.
But Evans, Mann’s attorney, doesn’t believe a for-profit company belongs in the probation business.
“There's nothing that I can tell you that makes sense about it,” Evans said. “It's a system that's run amok, that is completely ignorant and has no concept or any consideration for these constitutional protections.”
After eight years on probation – six years beyond Alabama’s legal limit – and thousands of dollars paid, Elvis Mann finally won his fight and his fines were dismissed. It’s a small victory Mann and his lawyer hope to build on through the class-action suit for the thousands of others caught in the cycle of debt and unable to dig themselves out.
“When they said I'm dismissed that was the happiest day of my life,” Mann said. “The burden just lifted up off of me.”
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