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Sentenced to Probation Detention Center but Sent to State Maximum Security Prison

Springfield, GA |

My son was sentenced to a probation detention center for his probation violation (3 bad checks - all misdemeanors - all fines have been paid and all checks have been made good - and failure to report to probation). His original sentence was a DUI. He is also under the first offender status. He had two surgeries while an inmate at the county jail due to injuries - severely broken nose and a broken and dislocated finger. The judge ordered him to a probation detention center for 180 days. He was tranferred from the county jail but was refused at the probation detention center due to his hand injury (surgeon had to place a 3" stainless steel rod in one of his fingers due to the extreme delay the county jail took in giving him proper medical attention) and because he takes Zoloft daily. Instead of returning him to the county jail where he could continue to be seen by the doctor that performed the surgery he was taken directly to a maximum security prison. He went 7 days without his medication and even now will not take what they are offering him because it appears to be the wrong milligram. He saw the warden and asked why he was there and when was the rod going to be removed from his finger (which had been in 3 weeks longer than the surgeon said for it to be). The warden told him that the rod in his finger was the least of his worries because now that he was in his prison he was just another piece of s_ _ t. Finally two days ago the rod was removed without any pain medication by a doctor that refused to even call the surgeon. The surgeon had also told him that he may need physcial therapy of the hand once the rod is removed - there has been no indication of that happening. He finally saw his prison counselor - more than 2 weeks after being placed in the prison. That was worthless - the counselor would not even get him the zip code to our home so that he could send a letter to us telling what horror he was having to go through. We are really getting the run around in the community from the Sheriff to the Probation Officer and everyone in between. They appear to be covering for one another and one the same hand can give explanation why my son is in a maximum security prison - and also why he is not receiving the proper mental and medicare care he needs. I am very concerned that my son may loose his finger - he is a plumber and of course that requires him to use both of his hands. I am also equally concerned about his mental health. He takes Zoloft for chronic depression and without the medication he spirals into an extremely withdrawn state of mind and when pushed can become very angry. The rod in his finger was bent by a guard soon after he arrived at the prison. This can not be legal. Someone has got to be held accountable for this nightmare situation. I am anxious to speak with a lawyer so that the proper action can be taken to remove my son from this maximum security prison enviroment before he is forced to protect himself and ends up with a felony conviction.

Attorney Answers 4

  1. When someone is convicted of a felony and sentenced to Georgia state probation - they are committed to the department of corrections for a period of time but are allowed to serve their prison sentence in the outside world with certain specified conditions of probation. In other words - someone who is on probation is serving prison time outside of prison.

    If a probationer commits technical violations, such as failing to report to the probation office, they are subject to being revoked up to 20-24months in a probation detention center. Additionally, if a probationer commits any new offense while on probation - that probationer could have his entire probated prison sentence revoked in full. For instance - a probationer who commits a new offense (even a misdemeanor) with four years left on probation might be sent to prison for the remaining four years. Defense counsel, the prosecution and the probation department will weigh in with the Judge in a discussion of what should be done with a probationer who has violated his probation at a Probation Revocation Hearing. The Judge can choose to reinstate a defendant's probation or revoke him. Ultimately, it is within the sole discretion of the Superior Court Judge.

    It is not uncommon for a probationer to be revoked to a probation detention center. Furthermore, when an inmate has a physical condition (such as your son's hand) that either needs further treatment or prevents him from participating in the 'boot camp' style environment of the probation detention center; that the PDC will transfer him to Prison to serve his time. Additionally, most PDC's do not have an effective mental health program. I have had several clients who have been transferred to the medical wing of a state prison in order to be treated for severe bi-polar and/or depressive/manic mental conditions. Some have remained in the medical ward of the prison and others have been returned to the PDC.

    Dealing with the criminal justice system can be a terrible and extremely frustrating experience for both criminal defendants and their families. I have found that many state and county agencies do not take the time to explain to an anguished family member what is happening to their loved one or why. Because your Son was committed into the care and custody of the Department of Corrections - once sentenced to serve some time in either the PDC or Prison - the Department of Corrections can transfer him to a facility that can better attend to his psychological and physical needs; the PDC usually cannot deal with severely depressed individuals or those who cannot physically work.

    That being said - I am sure none of this information serves as consolation to the fact that your son is in Prison. In the case of my clients who have been transferred for mental health reasons - I have been assured by the Department of Corrections that they will be housed in the medical ward and not in General Population.

  2. This is a good bit more information than your earlier post. The fact that your son was sentenced as a First Offender might explain how when his probation got revoked he got sentenced to a prison. A person who is having their First Offender probation revoked can face sentencing to anything that they could have been sentenced to before the original plea deal was reached.
    Again, a strong letter from a doctor or doctors to the proper level of administration might help. At some point it should reach someone who worries about the bottom line.
    Also, you can consider a motion in the sentencing court to have a hearing to amend the sentence. A judge might be just as concerned as you about the medical treatment, or lack thereof.

  3. The State of Georgia is operating most of its prison system with too few people and too little money. Plus, the assignment of bed space for citizens (and YES they are citizens) sent to either Probation Detention Centers or Probation Boot Camps is inadequate. The only thing that tends to cause change to occur is litigation asking that the people who have been negatively impacted be allowed to pursue a class action against the State of Georgia. Every time I see someone get a "more lenient" sentence (because they don't deserve to be in a State prison facility or in a county detention center with a broad range of dangerous criminals)the time it takes to get moved to the court-ordered facility takes over a month, on average. Look into a possible class action against the State of Georgia for its totally inadequate and negligent handling of these cases. The present government seems uncaring about cases such as this because their family members are never sent to these understaffed alternative detention facilities.

  4. You need to get this before a judge fast. If he had a lawyer for the revocation, contact him or her and have the lawyer file a motion to modify the sentence. Most criminal lawyers know the steps involved in negotiating with the DA or preparing a production order, getting the prisoner back from the prison system and into the courtroom to face the judge again. Prison was not what the judge intended and therefore the judge may be receptive to another plan given health issues, such as home confinement or intensive probation. Contact a local lawyer if you are not comfortable with whoever handled the case before.

    Bert Cohen

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