A report this past week in the St. Petersburg Times uncovers a former judge’s newest job as being the founder and main instructor at a center called the Bonanno Probation & Violation Center. Although it isn’t clear if the judge is doing anything wrong, he has his critics as well as his supporters in this venture.
According to the story, the judge, who left the bench amid impeachment procedures, began the Probation & Violation Center when he saw a need. The Center offers a 4 hour class to probationers who are sentenced to community service. Local judges have taken to slashing the amount of community service required for those probationers who successfully complete the $65 class.
State corrections officials don’t like this new system and believe it is unethical. The state’s Judicial Ethics Advisory Committee has been asked to issue an opinion in the case and the judge says he will stop the Center’s services if it is ruled they are unethical.
The idea is that many people have problems completing the community service aspect of their probation sentence due to time. The Center offers a one time, four hour course that is said to include some behavioral therapy and information on making better choices. Once complete, some judges are reducing the number of service hours, some by half.
Critics state that the judge’s center shouldn’t be making money off of a service that the state already offers for free. As a matter of fact, state corrections offers several such course, though they are not used to reduce hours. It seems critics are wondering if the current judges and the now-owner of the Violation Center are a modern “good ol’ boys” network.
It’s true that some probation conditions are hard to fulfill. They are not meant to be easy. The court sentences people to probation in lieu of jail time, not to “go easy” on them but to allow them to remain in the community while fulfilling their sentence.
When you are facing criminal charges, however, probation can seem like a potential blessing—especially if you are up against a potential prison sentence.
Whether you are in need of a criminal defense attorney who might be able to increase the likelihood that you will get probation, or someone to represent you in your probation violation hearing—I can help. Contact me today to discuss your case.