Probation office moving to same building as family services

Probation office moving to same building as family services

By Gabrielle Sarann. CREATED Feb 22, 2012

FORT MYERS - Fort Myers mom Carine Walsh dreads re-qualifying for public assistance. The next time she visits the state office, she'll have to go in the same door as convicted felons.

"It's an uncomfortable experience to begin with, especially when you have to bring your kids and now they're just making it that much worse," said Walsh.

The Department of Corrections is relocating to Victoria Avenue in Fort Myers, alongside the Department of Children and Families (DCF), on the first floor.

"You don't want your kids having to watch something nasty happen, or somebody looking at them funny, or acting odd," explained Walsh. "Some people don't care who's there, they don't care about the cops."

I put my concerns to Ann Howard, a spokesperson with the Department of Corrections. She says the move meets every legal requirement.

"We are able to move into this building legally," said Howard. "Plus, on top of that we've been given a directive by the governor and lawmakers to make sure that we're within good budget."

The Department of Corrections says a security guard will be in place at the front of the building. Parents worry that's still not enough.

"Well keep in mind these probationers are the same people that are going to be standing behind you in a grocery store line," explained Howard. "They're going to be the same person possibly sitting next to you in church. These individuals are not in prison. They're on probation."

For this mom, that's little reassurance.

"I understand it'll save them a few bucks but ultimately the cost could be worse," said Walsh.

The Department of Corrections will officially move into the same building as DCF on August 1.