Bainbridge City Council approves contract with Judicial Alternatives of Georgia, Inc.

Published 9:14 pm Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday evening, the Bainbridge City Council voted 5-0 to approve a service agreement between the Municipal Court of Bainbridge and Judicial Alternatives of Georgia, Inc., a private probation company.

“We’ve allowed [Municipal Court Judge Josh Bell] to oversee the selection of probation companies, and he likes to use one company for all of his courts,” Bainbridge City Manager Chris Hobby said. “He solicited proposals, did interviews and he has settled upon Judicial Alternatives of Georgia, Inc., better known as JAG, as his probation company.”

Councilman Luther Conyers abstained from the vote because he said that he had not had adequate time to review the contract.

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In a letter dated May 11, Bell terminated the court’s contract with Red Hill Community Probation, LLC, effective June 10. The company had since gone out of business amidst a class action civil suit filed in April by the Southern Center for Human Rights. The closing temporarily left Bainbridge without a probation company.

“Red Hills has gone out of business,” Hobby said, “so we don’t have a probation company in effect right now. Court [Wednesday] is when [Bell is] hoping to get these folks working for us. Right now Red Hills doesn’t exist.”

The contract with JAG Probation is effective immediately until the end of the current fiscal year, Sept. 30, at which time the court may renew for the next fiscal year or for “an additional three years,” according to the contract. The contract also states that either party may terminate the contract with 30 days written notice.

The fees for probationers proposed by JAG Probation include a $10 per day, per offender electronic monitoring option, which the council has discussed utilizing to cut back on jail costs.

“We’re moving toward that and hopefully we’ll start seeing improvements in our jail costs. That’s the ultimate goal,” Hobby said. “We’re hopeful that with the move to the new company, we’ll see some of those costs get under control and we’ll also begin to move toward more of the supervised monitoring that we can do without having to incarcerate.”
Bainbridge Public Safety Deputy Director Frank Green said that the company was well respected in the state.

“They have a really solid reputation,” Hobby said. “I don’t have any reservations about them at all. I think they’ll do a good job.”

Green also said that the company’s local office will be in the same building Red Hills was formerly located and that its former probation officer Martiele Pickle will be “in charge” of the office.

“She’s knowledgeable about how it’s worked and knows all about the current warrants and is involved,” Green said.