Probation Reform

Eleven-year-old Carlie Brucia's abduction and violent death may prompt swift changes in Florida law when it comes to probation violators.

State legislators are now looking at ways to take discretion out of the hands of judges, but costs and constitutional rights are at the heart of the debate.

The judge who refused to send Joseph Smith back to state prison when he stopped paying his financial obligations to the state says his hands were tied, but state lawmakers disagree

The union that represents probation and parole officers says their front line officers are often ignored, and when not being ignored, probation officers are too busy to make a case stick.

In order to send someone back to prison for not paying fines or restitution or other costs, it must be willful. Not paying because the money went to child support or because of unemployment can't be grounds for a return to prison.

State Sen. Rod Smith prosecuted Gainesville killer Danny Rolling. He says Carlie's accused killer was not the only one on the street who shouldn't be. He wants to tweak existing law to require probation violators be held without bond until a hearing decides if they go back to prison.

But holding thousands of people for 60 or 90 days is costly to the counties and to the state. In the wake of Carlie's tragedy, it may finally be a cost everyone is willing to shoulder.

A legislative committee responsible for funding the criminal justice system is now trying to determine how much it would cost to lock up every ex-con accused of a parole violation.