... Companies like JCS often sign contracts in cities and counties strapped for cash. For the county, the deal seems like a sweet one: The company will collect outstanding court debts for free and make all their profits from charging probationers fees. But the problem is that many of these people were put on probation because they were too poor to pay their fine in the first place and for them, the additional fees are huge. People find themselves scrambling for money they don't have and forgoing basic necessities to avoid being thrown behind bars for missing a payment. The impact on communities, especially low-income communities of color, is devastating.
Sadly, the for-profit probation business is booming. Every year, hundreds of thousands of people are sentenced to probation, often for misdemeanors including unpaid parking tickets. Instead of being able to just pay those fines and move on with their lives, many get sucked into spiraling debt traps they cannot escape.