San Luis home incarceration program has many advantages
The Municipal Court in San Luis, Ariz., plans to join a growing number of courts that seek to get inmates out of jail and into their homes, although they won't really be “free.”
The practice – known as home incarceration – puts ankle bracelet tracking devices on those who have committed relatively minor crimes so their movements can be followed. If they stray from their homes or court-approved locations, authorities will know and can put them back in jail. Often this is coupled with intense monitoring of their activities.
It has a number of advantages, two of which stand out: it frees up jail space for more serious offenders and it costs taxpayers less money.
It is expensive to keep inmates incarcerated. Accommodations have to be provided and the inmates have to be fed and cared for if they have medical conditions. That isn't required if they are in home incarceration. The inmate's family is responsible instead of taxpayers. The inmates even have to rent the monitoring devices that are required for them.
There are benefits for the inmates too. Those who have committed misdemeanors – the ones who are eligible for this type of program – often do not belong in an environment with serious criminals. In fact, they are more likely not to become involved in more serious criminal activity if they aren't there. And the ability to be with family can be beneficial in helping them see they are on the wrong path.
Home incarceration is one of a number of steps that can be taken in our justice system – including intense probation programs – that rely less on costly incarceration and more on reforming the individuals involved. It can free up taxpayer money for other important programs rather than imprisonment.
Of course, some criminals – those who are dangerous or commit serious crimes – need to be imprisoned and should stay there. But it is appropriate for courts to identify those who are better off in home incarceration.