The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office terminated its work release program on Monday, rejecting a recommendation from the Criminal Justice Commission (CJC) to keep it running. The decision was announced at a monthly CJC meeting by PBSO Chief Deputy Mike Gauger, according to attendees. The decision comes after the PBSO’s work release program came under fire after several women alleged earlier this year that convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein raped or sexually assaulted them while he was out on work release. The PBSO has refused to claim any accountability. Epstein qualified for the program, which reportedly allowed him to leave jail 12 hours a day, six days a week, and roam freely in his Palm Beach mansion without supervision.
Lawmakers had repeatedly requested Gov. Ron Desantis to ask the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to investigate the women’s claims, which he failed to do until he received a request letter from PBSO Sheriff Ric Bradshaw. Once the probe was launched, Bradshaw indefinitely suspended the program. Palm Beach County Mayor and CJC member David Kerner said that he believes that the the program can be revised to “make sure that those that don’t need to be in the county jail are able to, if they’re a low risk offender, continue to work.”