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The Giles County Commission will be asked to approve a settlement agreement in a lawsuit filed in 2018 concerning the county’s use of a private company to provide probation services.

McNeil, et al vs. Community Probation Services, LLC, et al was filed in federal court in April 2018, alleging that Giles County entered a contract with companies that operate a probation system solely by fees collected from those under their probation supervision.

According to information reported in PULASKI CITIZEN articles in 2018:

• The lawsuit charged systemic constitutional and statutory violations in Giles County’s misdemeanor probation system, calling it an illegal extortion scheme used to generate profit on the backs of Giles County’s most impoverished residents.

• The complaint charged that the contractual agreements between Giles County and the companies that operated its probation system specify that the companies must earn their revenue and profit solely and directly from payments by the people they supervise.

• The results, according to the complaint, are probationers and their families losing their homes and personal belongings, suffering medical problems, going without food or medicine and using the income they have to pay growing supervision fees demanded under the threat of arrest.

• The complaint goes on to charge that Giles County government was aware of the possible problems with its probation system at least as far back as July 2016, when the county received a letter that detailed a pending case in Rutherford County, Tenn., involving that county’s use of private probation companies.

A special meeting has been called by Giles County Executive Melissa Greene for the county commission to consider a settlement agreement and the entry of a consent decree in the case. No details of the settlement have been made available at this time.

The commission’s special meeting is scheduled for Friday, May 7, at 9 a.m. on the second floor of the Giles County Courthouse.

Other items on the agenda for the special meeting are:

• A certificate of need resolution. According to discussion in a commission Legislative Committee meeting last week a certificate of need protects rural hospitals by not allowing outpatient type facilities for procedures that keep rural hospitals in business.

“Our hospital is a good thing for our community and it would be a detriment to lose it,” Greene said, noting that the resolution would keep things as they are now so the local hospital doesn’t lose business and is possibly forced to close.

The legislative committee sent the resolution to the May 7 meeting unanimously.

• A TIPS Cooperative Purchasing Agreement requested by the school board.

Giles County Finance Director Beth Moore-Sumners advised the county’s Financial Management Committee that her office would see if the cooperative could be beneficial to other county departments as well.

• Consider an agreement with Digitech to provide billing services for Giles County EMS.

Greene explained to the commission’s Ambulance Committee last week that a stringent process has been underway to find a company that can meet what the county is asking for.

According to Giles EMS Director Roy Griggs, the need for a new billing service arose over the past year as problems with the current billing company continued.

The ambulance committee voted unanimously to put the matter on the May 7 special meeting agenda.

For special meetings only the items listed on the agenda can be considered. No new business can be voted on by the county commission.

Immediately following the special full commission meeting, two commission committees are scheduled to meet to discuss budget amendments.

The first meeting will be the Schools Committee and immediately after it will be the Budget Committee.

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