Group says 19,000 on probation are missing

TRENTON - October 17, 2011

The Probation Association of New Jersey, which represents the state's 2,000 probation officers, says that over 19,000 offenders who were sentenced to probation instead of jail have gone missing.

"They don't report to probation. They stop reporting, they stop doing any of the things that they had to do: pay fines, pay child support, pay restitution," Probation Association President George Christie said.

"That's kind of scary that we can lose track of people that are supposedly supervised and we have no clue as to where they are," Burlington resident Tyshon Lee said.

But Judge Glenn Grant, the head of the Administrative Office of the Courts, which oversees the probation system, looks at it this way "The fact that 16% of 120,000 probation cases have not been paid is unacceptable. But that means 84% of probationers are paying probation, are complying with probation."

The Probation Association is concerned that in the last year over 9,000 new crimes have been committed by those who are not complying and ask what about those who've disappeared?

"All those 19,000 warrants, somebody should be arresting them. Probation officers should be trained to make those arrests," Christie sadi.

Probation officers have been fighting for years to be trained and armed like police. But the judiciary is opposed to giving probation officers guns. They see them more as social workers than police.

"They're trying to ensure that John Doe, Mary Jane, who's under probation, is meeting her obligations. Is she getting employment? Is she going to school?" Judge Grant said.

The Probation Association is trying to get lawmakers to okay a referendum to take jurisdiction of its officers away from the courts. The judiciary opposes that.

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