Judges crack down on parole violators

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More than half of the probation revocation hearings presented before Covington County’s judges last week ended with the offender doing jail time, statistics provided by the Covington County District Attorney’s Office show.

Of the 34 cases heard, 23 of the defendants were sentenced to imprisonment for violating the terms of their probation.

The hearings are held monthly before Circuit Judges Ashley McKathan and Lex Short and are required when a person is charged with violating the terms of their probation. If the court has reason to believe someone violated their probation, the court can revoke probation. Once probation is revoked, the probationer can receive any sentence that the court could have imposed after conviction.

District Attorney Walt Merrell said Thursday he hopes the results of the two-day process sends a message to probationers countywide.

“I hope it says that the judges have little tolerance for those who mess up,” Merrell said.

Statistics show Judge McKathan held 20 revocation hearings Monday. Of those, four had probation restored; one did not show and warrant for arrest was issued; four cases were continued; seven had probation modified and were given time in the county jail; and three were revoked and sent to the Department of Corrections (DOC). McKathan has also yet to rule on one case.

Of those 20, eight were first time offenders.

Statistics also show Judge Short, who held court on Tuesday, held 14 revocation hearings. Of those, two were dismissed; two had probation restored; four cases were modified and the probationer given jail time; one was continued; and four were revoked and sent to DOC. He, too, has yet to rule in one case.

Of his 14 cases, seven were first time offenders.

“Probation violation is a serious charge,” Merrell said. “I think these numbers show a pattern that our court system as a whole is not going to tolerate second, third or fourth time violators. If you’re beyond the first violation, you could be sent to prison or given jail time. Those numbers also show to first time offenders, that failure to report (to one’s probation officer) or not following your repayment plan, has serious consequences – like prison.”

“And I think as the months go on, we can look for those numbers to improve.”