Thursday, March 5, 2009

Outsourced Prosecution

Maintaining permanent status employees seems to be very difficult for employers nowadays, that they tend to outsource the works in their company.

In the legal proffession, lawyers often delegate the authority they obtained from their clients to other lawyers. But, I never heard public authority being delegated to third parties especially private enterprise. However, that seems to change now in America.

According to CNN, since the year 2006, prosecution offices in 17 U.S states have retained a collection agency i.e. American Corrective Conselling Services (ACCS) to pursue consumers who write bad checks. ACCS then splits the collection proceeds with the Prosecutors. Beside that, ACCS also make money from conducting Financial Management courses that people who wrote bad checks are required to attend by the law at their own expenses. With this incentives, ACCS became very aggresive in hunting bad checks that their actions not only victimized people who wrote bad checks on purpose, but also others who did it accidentally. For example, Michael O'Neil who bounced a US$ 14 check to a Florida drugstore ended up spending $285, including $160 for the course fee. Although O'Neil tried to resolve the situation with the drugstore he was told that it was too late, because they had turned the matter over to ACCS.
This kind of outsourcing practices have strongly been protested by Consumer Groups, who accused that prosecutors are also passing on their prosecutorial powers as well. In many cases, stores are sending checks directly to ACCS, and ACCS is sending out collection letters with prosecutor letterhead, and no prosecutor has actually reviewed those cases.

The above shows that although outsourcing maybe good for private businesses, but for public services, especially prosecution offices, its application should be carried out very carefully, so as to avoid bad excess.

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