13 March 2013

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4 Ways The Probation Industry Exploits Their Customers For Cash

Probation often seems like a good thing when compared to jail time, but what most people don’t understand is that there are typically very high fines and additional fees that you have to pay if you cannot pay the initial fine immediately. You will need to use a probation loan company to pay your probation, but this puts you in a personal debtor’s prison that can be difficult to escape. These are four ways that the probation industry exploits its customers.

Prison cells

Probation often seems like a good thing when compared to jail time, but what most people don’t understand is that there are typically very high fines and additional fees that you have to pay if you cannot pay the initial fine immediately. You will need to use a probation loan company to pay your probation, but this puts you in a personal debtor’s prison that can be difficult to escape. These are four ways that the probation industry exploits its customers.

Large Monthly Fees
If you can pay your probation fine immediately, then you don’t have anything to worry about from a probation loan. If you can’t, then you will be subject to a very high interest rate. Some people will pay about double the amount of the initial fine by the time their probation is finished. The interest payments tend to go up with longer probations. This means that you will pay much more if you have a two- or three-year probation sentence as opposed to a one-year term.

Added Fines
The probation industry often adds more fines to your monthly payment that can make it even harder to pay. For example, there is often a daily fee of about $10 for electronic monitoring. You may also have to pay for photos used in convictions, a fee to start the loan and annual renewal fees.

Your loan might initially be $45 a month, but many have to pay $200 or more after the additional fines. These fines don’t go towards the probation. This means that it’s just going into the probation industry’s pocket.

Threat of Arrest
Failing to pay a debt is often bad for your credit score, but you don’t have to worry about being arrested. If you are indebted to a probation loan office, then you might be arrested for missing just one payment. There are many people that have been arrested when they thought their loans were finished.

Not only that, but the loan office’s contract to collect monthly payment ends when you are arrested. This means that you have to pay the full amount of your probation when you are released. If you can’t, then you will either need to renew your loan for even more money or you will be forced to pay the debt with more jail time.

Ability to Pay
Many court cases consider the defendant’s ability to pay before setting monthly payments. This typically isn’t the case with probation payments. You will be ordered to pay a certain amount of money without the judge or anyone else considering your current income.

If you don’t have a job or source of income, then you will need to start making money very quickly to pay for your probation. Many people have actually resorted to stealing just to make the payments so that they can stay out of jail. Some offices will give you a month or two to find a job, but this is rare.

Conclusion
Many people don’t understand how bad it can be to have probation. If you can’t make the payment immediately, then you will be subjected to high monthly payments, ridiculous fees and the threat of jail time if you are ever late on a payment.

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License: Creative Commons image source 

About Today's Guest Writer:
Paul Franklin is a probation officer and contributor at HowDoIBecomeA.net, where he shared his insights and experience in the Probation Officer Career Guide.

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