Ada County’s private for-profit misdemeanor probation services, ACMPS has been named as the sole defendant in a class action lawsuit filed Thursday in 4th District Court. Plaintiffs could include “thousands” of people currently and previously on probation.
The three named plaintiffs are Kenneth E. Green, Nicholas J. Hall, and Thomas Smith. They are represented by attorneys Philip H. Gordon and Benjamin A. Schwartzman who filed the action.
All three of the men were convicted of misdemeanor crimes in Ada County and placed on supervised probation with the for-profit agency. Their major allegation is they were forced to pay fees in excess of the $50 monthly maximum (which was recently raised by act of the legislature to $75).
Ada County Misdemeanor Probation Services, Inc. is privately owned and operated by Nancy Cladis on behalf of the county. The GUARDIAN began receiving complaints in May which were brought to the attention of the Ada County Commission. Cladis’s contract with the county is currently up for review and tentatively set for a vote next week.
Complaints have persisted and dominated the GUARDIAN news blog for the past week or two. Some of the commenters offered stories of intimidation and alleged they were forced to take repeated urine tests and rent electronic devices when their crimes were not alcohol or drug related. One writer described having to fill out an “evaluation card” claiming he was satisfied with the services provided.
A common thread in all the blog discussion was a fear of going to jail if the probationer didn’t comply with their private probation officer’s demands.
The legal filing asks the court to approve a class action because the questions of law and the facts are common among “thousands of individuals.”
The civil action cites four counts seeking various remedies including:
–Permanent injunction requiring that ACMPS not charge various test fees not ordered by the court.
–Violation of Idaho Code which sets the maximum monthly probation fee.
–Unspecified monetary damages as a result of the overcharging for fees.
–Unjust enrichment claiming ACMPS and Nancy Cladis were unjustly enriched at the expense of the probationers.
Finally, the complaint asks “for leave to file, pursuant to applicable state laws, a prayer for punitive damages in an amount sufficient to determine similar wrongful conduct on the part of the defendants and all others who supervise misdemeanor probation in the State of Idaho.”
No trial date has been set, but they are asking for a jury trial.
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