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BOC approves probation service

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Despite beginning a bid process, commissioners approved a probation services contractor hand-picked by Gwinnett State Court judges.

The bids had never been opened, after judges expressed concerns about the process, including placing a police officer on the bid review committee.

Instead, Chief Judge Robert Mock, along with other State Court judges, decided to use legislative authority to pick a probation service, choosing Southeast Corrections, one of the five bidders.

The bids remain sealed, so information on whether the bid was the lowest was not available. Judge Carla Brown, when addressing commissioners Tuesday, said the service will be paid by fees from the roughly 4,500 probationers and will not be an expense to the county.

"The success of probationers in Gwinnett County ... is related to the quality of the probation officers supervising them," Brown said. "We feel it will benefit the county."

According to documents filed with the Secretary of State's Office, the registered agent for Southeast Corrections is attorney Brad Carr, and the office of the company is the same as the business address for former county Chairman Wayne Mason.

For the most part, commissioners said they would approve the decision of the judges, since the law gives that authority.

Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, the sole dissenter, said he was afraid of the precedent of thwarting the bidding process.

"I understand that it's legal, but it isn't right," he said.