'It's sickening': Central Florida sheriffs frustrated with repeat offenders going in and out of jail

Frustrations are growing for Central Florida sheriffs who say repeat offenders aren’t being held accountable.

Brevard County deputies recently arrested Brandon Owens, a repeat offender who has over 17 felony charges and eight convictions on his record. He’s now behind bars, but Sheriff Wayne Ivey is frustrated he was out on the streets in the first place.

"It’s sickening," Ivey said. "We see these repeat offenders that are put back out on our streets."

Ivey said repeat offenders like Owens are getting off the hook and out of jail too soon.

"What we’re seeing is, they get arrested 15, 20 times for violent felons or for drug dealing fentanyl, and they’re right back out on the street," he said. "Sometimes even before we can get our paperwork done, they’re back out on the street."

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At age 30, Owen’s criminal record is pages long. He was arrested last Thursday in Brevard County on several charges including trafficking fentanyl, meth and possession of drug paraphernalia. Some of his past charges include aggravated battery, robbery with a weapon and burglary.

Repeat offenders are also an issue Osceola County’s Sheriff Marcos Lopez is worried about. "When you drop the charges, or you spank them on the hand, let me tell you something – that’s the wrong message we’re sending these people who are killing our communities," Lopez said.

The United States Sentencing Commission tracked 25,000 federal offenders after they got out of jail. In 2019, they released their findings showing 49% of former convicts were re-arrested after eight years.

"First of all, somebody that’s been arrested for 20 felonies, you’re not going to fix, I’m sorry. They can hug all the people they want. You’re not going to fix that," Ivey said. "There’s only one place to put them. That’s to lock them in prison where they can’t victimize anyone else or hurt anybody else."

These sheriffs want repeat offenders to have higher bonds and longer sentences to crack down on crime and keep their communities safe.

Sheriff Ivey is praising judges in Brevard County for finally setting Owen’s new bond to over $300,000. As of Tuesday afternoon, he is still in jail.