Judge orders prisoners released from Rutherford jail - WSMV Channel 4

Judge orders prisoners released from Rutherford jail

Posted: Updated: Jan 04, 2016 11:34 AM
Released inmate Judith Brown shakes Sheriff Arnold's hand while Heather Keller watches. (Photo: Rutherford County Sheriff's Office) Released inmate Judith Brown shakes Sheriff Arnold's hand while Heather Keller watches. (Photo: Rutherford County Sheriff's Office)
MURFREESBORO, TN (WSMV) -

Several prisoners at the Rutherford County Jail got an early Christmas present on Friday.

A federal judge ordered 13 prisoners who were being held on violation of probation charges to be released from the jail.

The prisoners had been jailed under Providence Community Corrections, which manages those on probation from the court in Rutherford County.

“If probationers had the means to pay court costs and probation fees in the first instance, many could avoid violation and arrested entirely,” Judge Kevin Sharp wrote in his opinion delivered Thursday.

P.C.C. has a contract with Rutherford County.

The county keeps the court fines, but P.C.C. collects the fees on top of that, like $45 a month in probation fees and drug tests at $20 each.

If you can’t pay, you go to jail.

“It seems outrageous. I can’t believe that a situation like this can still happen in 2015,” said attorney Jonathan Cole, who represented several of the prisoners. “You read about it in the history books, that somebody, just cause they can’t pay, they’re put in prison.”

Cole said the company benefits by keeping clients on probation for as a long as possible and the clients are never told they have a right to ask a judge to waive the fees they can’t pay, according to court documents.

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