(TALLAHASSEE, FL)—Teamster Local 2011 strongly opposes a new policy by the Florida Department of Corrections to suspend supervision of offenders while in the community, including violent criminals and drug offenders. This policy would prevent officers from enforcing court-ordered curfews for offenders until June 30.
Some probation officers have been notified of this new policy by e-mail.
Probation officers believe field visits to probationers are a proactive way to prevent future criminal activity. “I find guns, drugs, incidences of credit card fraud and other illicit activity in a probationer's home, not when they come to visit me in my office,” said Kimberly Schultz, a parole and probation officer in Miami.
Robert Sparkman, a probation officer in Lakeland, said an added burden will be placed on local police to track down violent probationers without the help of probation officers. “On Tuesday, an officer in our office assisted local police in serving a warrant on an aggravated stalker. He wasn’t home and they put out a BELO (Be On the Lookout). Under the new policy, they wouldn’t know he’s gone for 45 days.”
Jarrott Jarvis, a probation supervisor in Madison County, said the rate of absconders will skyrocket under the new policy. “We spend hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of hours tracking down absconders,” he said. “When this policy expires on June 30, finding absconders is going to be like looking for a needle in a haystack.”
Christina Bullins, a probation officer in Miami, says the new policy is “capricious.” “Based on the court’s ruling, you can spend $20,000 to incarcerate someone for robbery, but if they are sentenced to Community Supervision, we’re not willing to pay for a tank of gas to keep the community safe?”
“How on earth will law enforcement officers keep their communities safe when home visits to violent criminals and drug offenders are prohibited?” said Ken Wood, Acting President of Teamsters Local 2011, which represents 20,000 FDOC officers. “This new policy is not only dangerous and illegal, but the only money it saves is the price of gasoline.”
The Teamsters are exploring their options for challenging the new FDOC policy.
For more information, visit http://fdocteamsters.org.
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, go to www.teamster.org or follow us on Twitter @TeamsterPower.