Nearly 30,000 offenders, about 5,600 of them violent, are currently missing from Florida state supervision, some since the 1970s, reports the Sun Sentinel. The majority walked away from work camps, work release programs or stopped calling a probation officer. Others may have died and their families did not notify authorities.
The department says it makes every effort to find them through checks of the probation system, hospitals, jails, death records and at offenders’ homes, jobs and with families and friends. It also publishes profiles of the missing on its website, and accepts anonymous tips to forward to police. “We look for everyone and are doing the best we can to find everyone,” said Ann Howard, a Florida Department of Corrections spokeswoman. “Taxpayers don’t want us wasting money. They want us to be smart, to use resources wisely and protect them. And we take all of that seriously.” Another spokeswoman added, “Women, liquor and drugs seem to be the most common reasons for fleeing.”