Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Carmel on the Case: Probation
On any given day there are more than thirty thousand people on probation in Miami-Dade and Broward. It's a second chance for them to live on the right side of the law, but during a recent police sweep many were found breaking the law and sent back to jail, Seven's investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Sgt. Dan Fitzpatrick: "These guys are all gang members, all violent offenders. They all have a history of violence with weapons."
When law enforcement officers get ready to do a sweep of people on probation, one thing they know for sure, anything can happen. Officers know they can find guns and drugs and everything in between.
Marney Lewis: "They found marijuana, cocaine and ecstasy."
Our cameras were rolling as police went from house to house, time and again it was drugs that cost men the freedom and the second chance probation had offered.
Carmel Cafiero: "Why would you risk your freedom for some pills?"
Carlos Reyes: "They're not mine. They're not my pills."
Carlos Reyes was living in a trailer where authorities found a scale and oxycodone.
Bradley Levy: "He does not have a prescription for it, therefore he shouldn't have it.
Carmel Cafiero: "What's he on probation for?"
Bradley Levy: "He's on probation for burglary, grand theft and grand theft auto."
Just hours before police arrived, Reyes brought his wife and new baby home from the hospital.
Carlos Reyes: "A little boy."
Carmel Cafiero: "A little boy?"
Carlos Reyes: "Yeah, it's killing my heart inside, but it's all right."
Instead of celebrating his baby's homecoming, Reyes was off to jail.
Mother: "How many times do I tell you not to open that door."
This mother was furious with her son. After officers found crack cocaine at her house.
Sarah Harrington: "There's probably about 300 to 400 pieces of crack cocaine in that bag."
Police say when they knocked on the door, the crack was thrown out the back window.
Sarah Harrington: "You're on felony probation, that's an opportunity right?"
But, it's an opportunity Wilson Mondesir appears to have squandered. He and his friends were all arrested.
Mother: "I don't give a damn Wilson. I leave work to make sure you're safe. Right now if I could get up there I would break your head off. I would just rip you up."
Carmel Cafiero: "Wilson, you upset your mother tonight, do you feel bad about that?"
Wilson Mondesir: "Yeah."
And often families pay a terrible price when others make terrible choices.
BSO Deputy: "Come out here, come out here."
At this apartment, officers found a man hiding in a locked room, and once they got in, it was clear why he was hiding.
Sgt. Dan Fitzpatrick: "We haven't done a full search yet, but he's trying to get rid of that, and you see some money on the sofa here and he's trying to stash that away also."
And when the search was done there were more drugs discovered, along with a gun.
Lisa Thompkins: "Excuse me, this is my house."
When Lisa Thompkins came home from church, she found her apartment full of probation officers and BSO deputies. They showed her what they found.
Lisa Thompkins: "I don't want to hear nothing, I don't want to hear nothing OK. My life, look at my house torn up. Police is in my house!"
A son and his friend were arrested, but another son, the one officers came to, was not in the apartment at the time and was not arrested.
Marney Lewis: "We're trying to give him an opportunity to straighten things out, not hang around with people who are doing drugs and things like that."
And that represents a change for the probation department. It used to have a zero tolerance policy, any infraction would result in a violation of probation. The state is now taking a more understanding approach.
Marney Lewis: "We try to do all that we can, we're working with the Sheriff's Office and the Broward Re-entry Coalition to try to assist people as much as we can to help them because there are a lot of people who are in less than ideal situations??"
However, that doesn't mean a free ride for serious violators, most of which track back to drugs.
Lisa Thompkins: "Look at my house, don't do this. Look at what you're doing to me!"
And often the entire family suffers.
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