Logan Social Services executive director William Smith, who signed Hemenway’s letter, responded to questions by email. He confirmed that Hemenway had paid the fees shown online. He wrote that the money paid by customers was for “advertising, site maintenance and materials” and compared it to people paying for goods at a Goodwill store (some Goodwill branches allow people to perform court-ordered community service, but do not appear to charge a fee).
Hemenway’s certification letter stated that the services it provided were “educational in nature, with a work component, and provide ongoing community and client value through self-improvement.” Asked about the ‘labour component’, Smith wrote that this was a reference to the work clients do as ‘teaching assistants’ reviewing documents for other course offerings pay from Logan Social Services.
“For example, they can share a personal story about anger management, which I can then use in my anger lessons on other sites, if I find it appropriate and helpful,” Smith wrote.
Hemenway’s attorney declined to comment and declined an interview request on his behalf. A representative from the U.S. District Court’s Probation Office for the District of Columbia declined to discuss specific cases or organizations, but said that in general, defendants must obtain pre-approval for their community service plans.
The Logan Social Services website says its program is accepted by courts and employers “in most cases,” but notes that it doesn’t guarantee it. The site encourages potential clients to get permission before starting the program and makes it clear that it will not provide refunds if a court or probation office rejects it later.
Sample materials for the Community Service Program are not available without registration. But Smith provided a copy of the “American government” course to which Hemenway’s letter refers via email. It is an elementary school-style text that describes the basic structures of the American political system; Smith said there were missing diagrams that would appear online.
Logan Social Services markets itself as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. A search of public records showed that the organization is affiliated with a church, Full Gospel of Christ Fellowship Inc. Smith wrote that although it falls under the church’s nonprofit registration, it is acts as a “secular social service agency”; the organization’s websites do not mention the church or feature religious content. He wrote that Logan Social Services has provided online community service programs for 12 years and served more than 100,000 clients.
“I would say that our program is not for everyone, but it fills a need. We have many physically disabled clients who cannot find a place to go and do their jobs. Also, for example, there are patrons who have committed certain crimes for which you would not want them restocking books at the public library,” Smith wrote. “Finally, Covid has seriously reduced the work opportunities available, and many clients report that our services have been of great help to them.”