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According to Lisa Borden, an attorney in Birmingham, Alabama, many towns are so economically strapped, that the pressure is growing on courts to bring in more money rather than mete out justice. In this article, examples highlight aggressive tactics used by for-profit probation companies that promise revenue to the towns, while failing to offer constitutional alternatives to fines, jail time, and appropriate counsel.


1. The problem with for-profit probation companies has been highlighted in a recent research report by the nonpartisan Conference of State Court Administrators. The name of the report is: “Courts are not Revenue Centers.” What is a revenue center?
2. A 2010 study by the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law found that the court fee structure in 15 states imposed new and often onerous ‘user fees’ on individuals with criminal convictions. What are some of these fees?
3. Prepare a cost/benefit analysis regarding for-profit companies and use it to support a one-paragraph opinion essay on why or why not you think this practice of outsourcing should continue for private probation companies.


Bronner, E. (2012). Probation Fees Rise, Firms Profit and the Poor Go to Jail. The New York Times, July 2 (Retrievable online at