Angelina County probation officers face a lack of funds and heav - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Angelina County probation officers face a lack of funds and heavy caseloads

Lisa Page is a sex offender probation officer in Angelina County. Lisa Page is a sex offender probation officer in Angelina County.
Rodney Thompson is the Angelina County director of adult probations. Rodney Thompson is the Angelina County director of adult probations.

By Holley Nees - bio | email

ANGELINA COUNTY, TX (KTRE) – Lisa Page steps off the witness stand as an Angelina County judge revokes her offender's probation -- that's one less person she'll have to keep up with.

"It wasn't that long ago officers had 80 to 90 and now all of our direct officers are well over 100," said Page, a sex offender probation officer.

The caseloads are mounting, but Page has less than most officers since she keeps up with the county's sex offenders.

Officers that aren't on specialized caseloads are looking after about 110 criminals each.

"If our caseloads go up, then probably the number of people going to prison are going to go up and then it's not really cost effective because then we have to build more prisons," said Director of Adult Probations Rodney Thompson.

About a year ago, Thompson said they decided to stop filling positions when probation officers left, but now that means a bigger caseload for most officers.

"The more it goes up, the less time an officer has to deal with people that are going to be issues and you don't have time to get them the resources they need or to monitor them to get them back to the courts to maybe revoke them and put them in prison," said Thompson.

The first draft of the state budget eliminates funding to supervise misdemeanor offenders and severely limits money for treatment options.

"There's not going to be anymore new prisons built, so it kind of leaves us with the issues, okay, what are we going to do with everyone," said Page. "If we don't have anywhere to refer them and there's no room in prison, then what are we going to do?"

Thompson fears changes the legislature has made in the past to improve probations will now be lost in budget woes.

"This is the first budget that we're seeing," said Thompson. "We understand it may not be that way at the end of the session, but it's real scary looking at that budget right now."

Half of the Angelina County probation budget comes from probationers paying $50 a month. The fee will now go up to $60 dollars a month to make up for some of the budget shortfall.

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