Ray v. Judicial Correction Services & Related Litigation
We are litigating several pending constitutional class actions on behalf of thousands of people in Alabama whose constitutional rights were violated by for-profit probation company Judicial Correction Services (JCS) and municipal government actors. The Evans Law Firm of Birmingham, Alabama filed these cases in federal court beginning in 2012, and Public Justice joined as co-counsel in 2017. JCS collects court debt for cities free of charge to the municipality, making its money by tacking on monthly fees to the amounts each debtor owes the government. Our clients were assessed fines and/or court costs by municipal courts for various misdemeanors. Because they were too poor to immediately pay what they owed, the court placed them on “probation” supervised by JCS—even though many of them were not convicted of any offense, let alone sentenced to a term of incarceration. Once debtors were put on probation, JCS had an incentive to extend their probation for as long as possible: Each debtor was ordered to pay JCS a monthly fee of $30 or more for as long as he or she remained on probation. And instead of informing the municipal court when debtors could not afford to pay, JCS sought to have them arrested and jailed—without probable cause, without counsel, and without any finding that they had the means to pay. Though JCS ceased operations in Alabama in 2015, the vast majority of those harmed have yet to receive any compensation for the violation of their rights. The cases raise numerous constitutional and state-law claims against JCS and several Alabama municipalities.
In the lead JCS Alabama case, Ray v. Judicial Correction Services, the Evans Law Firm and Public Justice are seeking to certify a citywide class on the claims that JCS conspired with the Childersburg Municipal Court to violate our clients’ substantive due process rights, right to equal protection, and right to an attorney, as well as a statewide class on a procedural due process claim arising from JCS unilaterally extending probation beyond 24 months.
- Leslie Bailey, Brian Hardingham