In an effort to save them money, the Department of Corrections will be spending less time going door to door, on visits to probationers homes. Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker made the announcement this week and promised public safety would not be in jeopardy. Others, however, are not so sure.
The Department was hoping to save millions in a move to privatize the majority of prisons in South Florida. But, that plan was rejected by the state Senate just two weeks ago. The DOC now has to look elsewhere to free up funds, and the probation department is their target.
Probation officers will only be making one field contact a month to offenders. These contacts are where the officer shows up unannounced to the offender’s home to check on their compliance. These visits are definitely not something that offenders enjoy, and they take up a significant amount of time (and therefore money) of the department.
Tucker has reassured people that, “Nothing is being done carelessly or without regard to public safety,” though he hasn’t yet released all of the details of the shift, according to the Times/Herald.
One opposition voice is the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, representing prison employees. Their spokesperson Leslie Miller called it “dangerous and illegal.” Her concern is that it would give offenders a reason to flee supervision.
Others believe only one visit a month will encourage offenders to break the rules of their probation and even the law.
Some people do things because it’s the right thing. Others do things because they know they’re being watched,” said Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri in response to the change. “For those people who are the latter, when they know they aren’t being watched, then my concern is that they might go out there and do things they’re no supposed to. And then that falls to us.”
There is a chance that the department will require offenders to make more visits to probation offices themselves. But as one critic of the policy points out, it’s not the same as having an officer knock on your door unexpectedly “at 11 o’clock at night.”
Probation is considered a privilege, for people who are better suited to community supervision rather than prison time. Just who qualifies for probation and who serves incarceration is usually determined by the prosecutor, in seeking a certain sentence, and the judge who ultimately determines the sentence.
Usually, probation isn’t the walk in the park it is made out to be, with strict rules and conditions that must be adhered to. But, it’s always preferable to jail time.
If you’re facing charges, for anything from drug possession to assault or rape, we may be able to help. While not all criminal charges are eligible for probation, many are, and we can help determine the best strategy for your case to get you the best possible result on your day in court.