SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - A man behind bars on the Suncoast finds himself in a familiar place. He was arrested for the 66th time Wednesday after being on the run since last year.
Sarasota deputies say Kizer Pontoon was arrested for failing to appear, drug charges, being a felon with a firearm and for leading officers on a chase.
Pontoon is a repeat offender with a rap sheet that not many can say they have. Dozens of arrests from drugs, fleeing, fraud, aggravated assault to grand theft. Re-offending and not many can tell us why it happens.
At 28-years-old, Pontoon has been arrested more than five dozen times. “You’ll sometimes see people who have 40 or 50 arrests and it sounds like, ‘Oh my god, how can somebody get arrested 40 or 50 times?’” said criminal defense attorney, Derek Byrd.
Cases upon cases and Pontoon has seemed to continue making an appearance on inmate logs. But his story isn’t unique. This is happening across the state.
“They get a light sentence, they come right back out into our community and they start committing crimes again. Back in jail... Light sentence. So it takes several convictions for them to even make it to prison. So we already see on a local level how important it is to keep these criminals off the streets,” said Manatee County Sheriff Rick Wells.
Byrd says Florida currently has the third highest prison population in the country.
“There’s definitely a percentage of people that no matter what you do for them they just aren’t going to get it. They just can’t get it. They’re just bad people and can’t get their head on straight and they probably belong in jail get them off the streets. But the vast majority aren’t people like that,” said Byrd.
He says there are people that need mental health and rehabilitation and arresting the way out of it isn’t the answer.
The Department of Corrections states 86 percent of prison inmates in Florida will be released back into the community.
“There’s plenty of time for rehabilitation but that’s up to them. We can give them the tools and put them in the right program but they have to make the decision to quit committing crimes,” said Sheriff Wells.
Statistics from the Department of Corrections show the number of offenders going back to jail within three years after being released have gone down in the last decade.
Byrd says while this is true, there needs to be more help within the system to help offenders transition into the world and minimize incarceration all together.