Edwards v. Leaders in Community Alternatives
Private e-carceration, euphemistically known as “electronic monitoring,” involves a private company acting under a court order to strap one or more monitoring devices onto a person’s ankle that record their every movement. The company charges the wearer as much as $25 (or more) for each day the person is forced to wear the device.
Equal Justice Under Law attorneys spent six months speaking with activists and those subject to e-carceration before concluding that the practice amounted to extortion and violated the Constitution.
Our Lawsuit: On July 31, 2018, Equal Justice Under Law filed a federal civil rights complaint, Edwards v. Leaders in Community Alternatives, against Leaders in Community Alternatives (LCA), Alameda County, and LCA’s parent company, SuperCom. LCA is a private company that has a no-cost contract with Alameda to track people sentenced to wear an electronic monitoring device. LCA charges its “clients” — those sentenced to wear a monitor — a daily rate of $25 without any regard of the person’s financial situation. The complaint alleges that LCA has engaged in racketeering because the Named Plaintiffs in the lawsuit, and many others, were forced to pay a daily rate far higher than they could afford, in violation of California law. If they failed to produce the money, LCA would threaten to report them to the court for non-compliance with the program rules, causing them to be sent to jail. The complaint alleges this amounts to extortion, an act that can form the basis for a racketeering charge.
The lawsuit seeks to end LCA’s pay-or-jail scheme. It also claims that putting criminal justice supervision in the hands of a private entity motivated by profit violates the 14th Amendment. The Plaintiffs also allege that Alameda County is liable for damages for allowing LCA to engage in its predatory practices.
Date Filed: 7/31/18
Plaintiffs: William Edwards, Robert Jackson, James Brooks, Kyser Wilson
Defendants: Leaders in Community Alternatives, Inc., Supercom, Inc., Linda Connelly, Diane Harrington, Kent Borowick, Raelene Rivas, Jeanette Arguello-Ramos, Belinda Doe, Alameda County, Wynne Carvill, Wendy Still
Jurisdiction: The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California Oakland Division