(TALLAHASSEE, FL)—Teamsters Local 2011 today filed a legal challenge to restore the requirement that probation officers visit the homes of dangerous criminals on probation.
The Florida Department of Corrections on Feb. 29 suspended officers’ visits to offenders’ homes and treatment providers until June 30. The Teamsters argue the suspension breaks Florida law and endangers Florida’s communities.
The Teamsters filed their petition to challenge the action before the State of Florida Division of Administrative Hearings. If the challenge is deemed valid, a hearing must be held within 30 days. Within 30 days of the hearing, the administrative law judge must determine if FDOC acted improperly. If the judge rules against FDOC, the agency must restore home visits.
“We want to make sure Florida’s citizens are safe and the FDOC does what the law tells it to do,” said Ken Wood, Acting President of Teamsters Local 2011, which represents 20,000 FDOC officers. “FDOC’s new action is not only dangerous, but illegal.”
The Teamsters argue FDOC’s action violates Florida Statute 944.09(4), which states, “the department shall…keep informed concerning the conduct, habits, associates, employment, recreations, and whereabouts of such probationer, by visits, by requiring reports, and in other ways.” The Teamsters also argue FDOC violated Section 120.54(a)(1) of the Florida statutes, which requires the agency to engage in the rulemaking procedure before acting to change offender supervision.
The Teamsters’ attorney, former Sen. Ron Silver, said personal contact is the main way probation officers monitor offenders. “We know that home visits are critical to keeping our citizens safe, whether it’s in their home, at work or at school. The safety of our citizens is paramount,” said Silver, former chairman of the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice.
Probation officers say field visits to probationers prevent future criminal activity. They have found guns, drugs, credit card fraud and other illicit activity in probationers’ homes.
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.