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 plaintiffs in these cases allege that JCS and several Alabama municipalities violated their constitutional rights under the Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments, the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses, among other claims.
- Leslie Bailey, Brian Hardingham