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The Eyewitness News Investigators
A shortage of probation officers in Rhode Island could lead to a safety risk
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            Hundreds of prisoners are behind bars at the ACI right now... And thousands who are out on probation.

            But the system that is supposed to track these felons, is overloaded..    And that means your safety could be at risk.

            R hode I sland's probation system is in crisis....

            The state's probation officers have the highest case loads in the country...and cannot possibly keep up.

That puts us all at risk.

Tammy Chan's killer, Victor Semidy, had been an habitual offender on probation when he shot chan in the head last march.

Registered sex offender E ugene Texter violated his probation when he allegedly assaulted a 14-year-old girl.

And Richard DuPonte is accused of beating jennifer kintner beyond recognition while on probation.

Unfortunately, these stories are all too common in R hode I sland.

While the system can break down in a variety of areas...there 's no question that R hode I sland's probation officers are overwhelmed with cases...


"Good morning, probation."


               Lynn Schneible is one of just 73 rhode island probation officers....her current case load...

" And I also have people on an inactive list but I am still responsible for in a couple of drawers back there and that's at about 60 right now."


             She tells me the majority of her caseload is drug related...but she also has sex offenders and domestic violence cases.


"We feel like we could do more for the offender and public safety, but because of the numbers and the amount of paperwork we have, it's not an option."


         In fact, the director of the ACI says with 21-thousand Rhode Islanders on probation... On the streets right now... And just 73 probation officers at work, things are getting even worse.


"In 2001, our case loads were one probation offcier to every 320 offenders...that was the highest in the nation.  now one probation officer to every 368 offenders."


Here's how it breaks down....


One in every 22 men in the state is on probation...

  • In W arwick it's one in 18
  • Newport one in 17,
  • Woonsockt one in 14 
  •  Providence one in 11 and in one section of P rovidence 1 in seven men is on probation right now.

"That's a lot of rhode islanders convicted of crimes on the streets for which we're responsible."

"Should we be concerned?"



"We do a very good job of running prisons but we have many more convicted felons out on the streets and public safety is at risk when they're not properly supervised."


         And Lynn Schneible says all the probation officers feel responsible and guilty if one of the people they are supervising re-offends.


"Do you think Rhode Islanders should be concerned for their safety?

absolutely, absolutely."


"We do the best we can but we are basically putting out fires and doing the bare minimum...we just need some more help."


            The department of corrections was supposed to get that help with an additional 18 probation officers ...but they were cut from the state budget...


            The national average is 93 cases per probation officer...and it's worth repeating that the average here in Rhode Island is 368-cases


             AT Wall tells me, all he can do is keep asking for help and hope that the state will take action.


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