9 Investigates the effects of large caseloads for probation officers

9 Investigates the effects of large caseloads for probation officers

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Investigative reporter Karla Ray first uncovered a probation warrant that would have kept Christopher Redding Jr., in jail after he was picked up on robbery charges in January.

The warrant, though, sat unfiled for days, giving the convicted felon enough time to bond out.

That forced Orange County Deputies into a dangerous situation when they tried to re-arrest him.

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Since then, Ray uncovered local probation officers are handling more cases than their peers across the state.

Redding was booked into the Orange County jail for robbery at the end of January, and though his Department of Corrections Probation Officer completed a warrant packet to keep him behind bars and a judge signed it, it wasn’t processed until after Redding bonded out.

He was killed in a shootout with deputies as they tried to serve that warrant weeks later.

“It was a worst case scenario,” Chief Judge Fred Lauten said.

Lauten told 9 Investigates there is now a log system in place to check for violent felony offender warrants every day. Weekly caseload spreadsheets show local probation officers juggle more cases than their colleagues in other areas of the state.

We found particularly high numbers of pretrial intervention cases; Orlando and Daytona Beach-based officers handling around a dozen more than the statewide average at any given time.

We also found local officers monitor slightly more sex offenders who require regular check-ins, drug offenders who have to stay clean, and violent offenders like Redding.

Lauten says the high workload is no surprise.

The state Supreme Court recently studied statewide court filing numbers and found the 9th Judicial Circuit needs three additional judges, but those positions aren’t funded.

“That correlates to having an effect on probation officers, police officers, so yes, I would agree that their workload is probably higher than it is for other people around the state,” Lauten said.

The Department of Corrections told us caseload ratios are mandated by statute, but they are based on the number of staff available, meaning they can fluctuate.

Any such "burden" on officers is hard to measure, because caseloads can fluctuate on a daily basis.