A crackdown on probation violators is worsening overcrowding at many county jails in Florida, forcing the release of some suspects who are awaiting trial, the Associated Press reports. The problem is caused partly by a zero-tolerance policy after the slaying of six people at a Deltona, Fl., house and the killing of an 11-year-old Sarasota girl. Both incidents allegedly involved felons who violated their probations yet weren’t sent back to jail.
State officials in August ordered probation officers to lock up violent offenders for any violation of conditions governing their release, which could be as simple as missing an appointment. Data obtained by the Associated Press showed the number of probation violations pending statewide rose 4.9 percent to 38,423, an increase of 1,818 over July. The overcrowding is drawing the attention of inmate-rights groups, who say it can endanger the health and safety of not only the accused, but their guards and other jail employees. “The problem is there are 67 counties and no jail oversight, no statewide oversight. We regulate veterinary hospitals but we do not regulate county jails,” said Randall Berg of the Florida Justice Institute in Miami.