Deal to veto controversial private probation bill

Gov. Nathan Deal said Tuesday he would veto legislation that would allow private probation companies to keep secret from the public details such as how many people they supervise and how much they collect in fines.

House Bill 837, supported by judicial groups and private probation firms, gave Deal one of his trickiest dilemmas. Supporters said it would help private probation companies avoid frivolous litigation that could jeopardize the industry, while opponents warned it was a gift to the lucrative industry.

Deal expressed concerns this month that language added into the bill meant to shield some of the records went too far. As Tuesday’s bill signing deadline approached, a state audit found that courts provide little oversight of private probation companies and the firms often fail to supervise the low-level offenders they should watch.

“There are a lot of red flags that were raised in the audit,” Deal said. “We need to revisit where the auditors made suggestions … I think we can do a better job of that.”

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