Effingham County votes to privatize probation services

Published: Jul. 28, 2023 at 10:34 PM EDT
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EFFINGHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WTOC) - Effingham County is privatizing its probation service.

The county manager says they made this decision during last week’s county commission meeting because the county would have lost money if it continued the way it was.

In the last year, the probation caseload in Effingham County has tripled.

In January of 2022, the new caseload was 136 cases, which is not including cases that were already in progress. However this January, the new caseload jumped to 362.

The Effingham County manager Tim Callanan says that this year, the probation department was running around 550 cases between four probation officers. And even after adding an additional officer, there were too many cases falling through the cracks.

“The issue is you can not, with the same amount of staff ramp up to three times the caseload and get the job done.”

This is when the department head, the county manager, and the judge looked at the data and saw that if the department continued to operate at the same rate, the county would soon be in debt. By his calculations, they would be six figures in debt in just one year, he explains why.

“If you don’t meet the obligations to meet with the probationers you essentially violate the terms of the agreement and that person has to essentially be released from probation.”

Since the funding for the probation department has always been covered by the fees of the probationer, if their probation is terminated earlier than expected, that funding is lost.

Callanan says that the probation department was never meant to be a financial burden on taxpayers and in order to keep it that way, privatizing was the best option.