confinement cost Boone County a tremendous amount of money, and, despite the band on their ankles, could theoretically flee before police got there to capture them.
With a new system, the control that the Boone County courts has on suspect is a bit tighter, and will cost taxpayers somewhat less in funding.
Recently, Sheriff Rodney Miller adopted a new home
confinement provider from Illinois that has a track record of providing a savings in cost, as well as keeping track of those men and women confined by the courts to a residence.
The company, Elmotech, promised Sheriff Miller that their GPS(global positioning system) tracking system would be able to confirm whether or not a prisoner was in their home when they were supposed to be, as well as to alert authorities if those people were consorting with anyone else on home confinement, which is prohibited by law.
The system is so precise, in fact, that a special received can be provided for prisoners prohibited from drinking alcohol.
The company can provide a device that the user is required to blow into that will test whether they have been drinking.
To avert a prisoner from
having a non-drinking relative from blowing into the device for them, it takes a digital photograph of the user.
If a probation officer is out in the community and wants to know whether a home confinement
prisoner is at home under the new system, all they need to do is check a portable receiver that they carry with them.
“It can instantly tell an officer whether the prisoner is home when they should be,” said John McClain, regional sales manager for Elmotech.
“If the prisoner is talking with another person on home
confinement, then the receivers for both prisoners will tell the county about their violation,” McClain added.
The biggest benefit of home confinement is cost. The West Virginia Regional Jail Authority currently charges counties nearly $50 per to house each inmate. When a prisoner is on home
confinement, however, they live at home, eat their meals at home, and are responsible for their own medical care. In fact, prisoners are required to pay the county a fee for their monitoring.
“If a minor offender is home, instead of in jail, then the taxpayer dollars can be spent for something more important,” Miller told the Coal Valley News.
“More money will be available to house violent prisoners. The people at home buy their own food and pay their own doctor bills. They go to work, earn a day’s wage and pay taxes. At the end of the day, the prisoners come home and stay inside, instead of running around, being tempted to commit crimes,” the sheriff said.
The system also allows
prisoners to leave their homes as far as 35-250 feet, depending upon orders of the court.
“This way, they can sit on the porch, or mow the lawn, but it won’t allow these prisoners to go down the road or anything like that.”
In fact, even if the prisoner doesn’t have a land line phone, they can still be on the home
confinement program if they have a working cell phone.
Right now, the county has 17 persons on home confinement.
Miller said the new system will save the county an average of $1,000-$2,000 per month.
Boone County Circuit Judge Will Thompson applauded the program.
“It’s going to save money for taxpayers, and more than that, it will give my court some options.
I could conceivably be inclined to put a person on home confinement to await trial if I had confidence that they wouldn’t easily run off in the middle of the night,” the judge said.
“We have high hopes for this program,” the sheriff said.
“I know that as time goes on it will continue to save the county money. In fact, I’ve put in a request to the Boone County Commission to hire three additional home confinement officers to help keep track of the prisoners.”
As of press time, it was unclear whether commissioners would approve the request.