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Georgia Supreme Court Ruling Changes Probation Rules

A Georgia Supreme Court ruling is going to affect tens of thousands of defendants on probation for misdemeanors in Georgia.

The high court ruled that state law doesn't allow misdemeanor probation sentences to be put on hold if a probationer stops reporting.

That means thousands of people accused of disappearing before completing probation requirements won't face arrest, and some are being freed from jail.

It had been standard practice in courts that handle misdemeanors to issue arrest warrants and pause and then restart probation sentences.

Defense attorney Frank Hogue of Macon agrees with the ruling that prevents private probation companies from extending your probation if you do not pay your monthly supervision fees.

"Affected in a way that's positive for them because its fair to them, it's due process," says Hogue.

The decision comes after 13 individuals filed a lawsuit against, Sentinel Offenders Services stating, "You cant do that, you don't have any lawful authority as a private company to stop the clock on a court ordered probation because I didn't pay you," Hogue says.

Hogue maintains that the incentive of private companies to make money gets in the way of due process that is mandated by the court system.

"When you get that into the Justice system, then people's due process rights are likely going to be violated and that's what the Georgia Supreme court said has happened here, individual citizens have had their due process rights run over by a private company whose interest is money."

The effects have already been seen in Macon and across the state.

The probation office in Macon tells WGXA at least 50 inmates were released from the Bibb County Law Enforcement Center Friday, and around 1,100 probation cases were closed.

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