Providence Services Corporation is an international, publicly traded corporation based in Tucson, Arizona that provides government sponsored misdemeanor probation and supervision services, global employment services, health assessment and care management services, and non-emergency transportation services. The company’s revenue in 2014 was $1.5 billion. The company is present in 43 states in the United States as well as in 11 countries (Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Poland, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom). Through its subsidiaries, Providence contracts with state and local governmental agencies, including adult and juvenile justice departments, to provide probation and other court-mandated services, which would otherwise be the responsibility of these public agencies. The company is also a treatment provider for Drug Courts in Nevada.
In April 2014, Providence announced that it would acquire Ingeus, a global employment services company based in Australia. These global employment services consist of providing employment training and job placement to work-seeking individuals, including those recently released from incarceration. These services accounted for 12.1% of Providence’s total revenue in 2014. In October 2014, the United Kingdom Ministry of Justice awarded Ingeus a contract to provide probation services to medium and low-risk inmates in England and Wales, effective early 2016.
Of its 2014 revenue, 21.6% came from adult and youth probation services and foster care domestically. Through its subsidiaries, Providence provides these services to justice departments in 12 states (Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, and Washington, DC). Providence refers to adult probation, youth probation, and foster care services as “Human Services.” This includes various forms of monitoring, drug testing, pre-sentence investigations, case management, “rehabilitative services,” and the collection of court-ordered fines and fees.
Instead of having state and local governments funding and running probation and surveillance programs, both the operation and costs are covered by companies such as Providence. Providence operates as an “offender-funded” probation company, which means that it generates revenue by charging probationers monthly “supervision fees” that go directly to the company. When indigent probationers are unable to pay these fines and fees, Providence has the probationers arrested, despite the United States Supreme Court ruling that a person sentenced to probation cannot be incarcerated just because they cannot afford to pay a fine. In a recent lawsuit against the company, the plaintiffs report that the aforementioned law is routinely ignored and that the company made up reasons to claim probation violations that lead to the plaintiffs’ arrests.
To track and monitor probationers, Providence uses a variety of Supervision and Surveillance technology that is manufactured by private for-profit companies. One product Providence uses is the SCRAM CAM (Secure Remote Alcohol Monitoring, Continuous Alcohol Monitoring), which is manufactured by Alcohol Monitoring Systems. The company also tests probationers using Sobrietor, which is a product of BI Incorporated, owned by the GEO Group, Inc.
In September 2015, a lawsuit was filed against Providence Community Corrections in Tennessee by Equal Justice Under Law, a civil rights group. The lawsuit alleges that Providence has violated racketeering laws by jailing impoverished people who fail to pay court fines for traffic violations and misdemeanor offenses and by refusing to waive fees for the indigent. According to the New York Times, the seven probationers filing the lawsuit, “many of them sick or disabled and living on as little as $129 a month in food stamps, say they lost housing, jobs and cars, sold their blood plasma and went without food after repeated threats by the company that they would be jailed if they could not pay.” The Marshall Project, Think Progress, and local news stations have also covered this active lawsuit.
In July 2015, a civil rights lawsuit was filed against Providence Community Corrections in Georgia on behalf of a woman who has been in jail for over a month because she is unable to pay the court fines and Providence’s “supervision fees.” The lawsuit alleges that after the woman “failed to pay fines of $1,551 on the DUI and $1,355 on the reckless driving, Providence secured warrants for her arrest”
In 2014, two children in Texas died in the care of their foster parents who they were paired with through Providence subsidiary Providence Kids. The Texas Observer reports that these deaths exemplify the risks of privatizing foster care when “large lead agencies oversee dozens of private child-placing agencies” without “increased training and oversight that stakeholders say would prevent neglect and abuse.”
In 2013, it was uncovered that CEOs of six nonprofits throughout New Mexico that used Providence’s healthcare management services were also employees of Providence. An audit of the company produced strong evidence of fraud and abuse.
In 2012, a Probation Officer employed by Providence Community Corrections in Morgan County, Georgia was arrested for embezzling money from the company by stealing fees paid by the people on probation that PCC was monitoring. This prompted the Morgan County Commissioners to terminate their seven-year contract with Providence. According to the Eatonon Messenger, Magistrate Court Judge Connie Holt stated that “Providence's periodic failure to cash checks written by the court for payment of services was among the problems that brought about a desire for a change.”
In 2011, a mental health subsidiary of Providence, Family Preservation Services in Washington, DC was accused of defrauding Medicaid and the D.C. Department of Health Care Finance. An investigation uncovered that the company was “counseling patients without first doing proper diagnostic examinations [and] cutting corners when it conducts the exams.” Other accusations included that employees were being pressured to make up for mental health service reimbursements that otherwise would have been denied.”
In 2011, a class action lawsuit was filed against Providence Community Corrections in Tennessee, a subsidiary of Providence Services Corporation, claiming the private probation company extorted fees from people on probation, falsified drug tests, and sexually harassed and assaulted probationers.