Friday, March 29, 2013


Bob Walsh says, “An ankle monitor is kind of like a cheap lock. They keep honest people honest.”

By Richard K. De Atley

The Press-Enterprise
March 22, 2013

Electronic ankle bracelets are becoming a pivotal tool for Riverside County in the state prison realignment program, which has forced the early release of thousands of county jail inmates.

In 2012, more than 2,000 people were released from custody in the county’s overcrowded jails after they were arraigned in nonviolent criminal cases. Jailers kept behind bars accused inmates who faced more serious charges.

But 29 percent of those post-arraignment releases were no-shows for their next court date, said Chief Deputy Sheriff Raymond Gregory in a March 19 note to the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.

The supervisors approved a new “virtual jail” program to reduce the no-shows. It will last through June and allow sheriff’s deputies to clamp monitor bracelets on up to 100 people who have been released and are awaiting future court dates.

By Thursday three people had already been selected for the new program, Gregory said in a phone interview.

“They looked like good candidates,” he said. Most of those released from jail custody while awaiting their next court dates are charged with property or drug crimes, Gregory said.

In addition to the electronic monitoring via global positioning satellite signals, those in the post-arraignment program will also have a case manager to monitor their moves , and weekly compliance checks at their home. Those who fail go back to jail.

They also must adhere to 36 terms and conditions for the monitoring program, including avoiding drugs and alcohol.

Participants pay for their ankle-wear. There’s a $90 application cost, plus two daily charges -- $10 for use, and a $4.16 vendor fee. If all 100 participants can come up with the money, as much as $26,520 could be collected over an estimated 30 days’ use.

Gregory said the actual amount may vary, depending on ability to pay.

There are no comparison figures for 2012’s rate of 29 percent no-shows among the 2,000 post-arraignment releases, because realignment started on Oct. 1 2011.

Overall, Riverside county’s five jails made early releases of nearly 7,000 inmates during 2012 that officials attributed to realignment.

The state program was created to reduce California’s prison population by redefining which crimes are subject to state prison and state parole supervision, and which will be handled by county jails and county probation officers.

The U.S. Supreme Court in May 2011 upheld lower federal court orders to reduce California’s prison population by 33,000 this year due to cruel and unusual conditions in the overcrowded state institutions.

County jails began filling quickly after realignment began.

Those convicted of non-violent, non-serious and non-sex offender crimes who receive sentences of more than one year now go to county jail instead of state prison. And those who violate their terms of release under those categories of crime now go to jail, rather than back to state prison.

With supervisors approving the post-arraignment program, ankle bracelets are now used by the sheriff’s department in three situations – for people being monitored who otherwise would have gone to jail, and for those serving misdemeanor sentences through monitoring rather than being ordered into custody, Gregory said.

The numbers change almost daily, but recently there were 77 people being monitored who would otherwise be in jail, and another category of 373 people who were sentenced to the ankle bracelets for their misdemeanor convictions.

Movement is confined to home, work, and essentials such as grocery stores and physician visits. “If they have a job, the benefit of having them go to work is they can support themselves and pay for the program,” Gregory said.

The virtual inmates who would have gone to jail also have case managers in addition to electronic monitoring.

In 2012, the supervised electronic confinement program resulted in vacating 18,215 daily jail bed spaces, according to a report filed with supervisors earlier this month by the Probation Department on various aspects of realignment and how it has affected the county criminal justice system.

The same report said the sheriff’s office was investigating the possibility of adding an alcohol monitoring program, to include breath sample analysis and GPS electronic monitoring, combined with an alcohol education abuse-prevention program for low-level offenders, “with the offender paying for the services when practical, as opposed to incarceration without addressing the inmates underlying programming needs.”

1 comment:

bob walsh said...

Sorry Howie but you must have your facts wrong. Jerry and the previous CDCr head, Matt Cate, PROMISED that realignment would not result in early releases. They wouldn't lie about something like that (would they?).