GPS Ankle bracelets for low level offenders?

Sheriff seeks supervisors' OK to establish electronic monitoring system

RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff today will ask the Board of Supervisors to approve an electronic monitoring program designed to remove dozens of inmates from the jail system to relieve overcrowding.

Around 100 inmates may qualify to participate in the Secured Electronic Confinement Program, according to the sheriff's department.

A state law that went into effect on Jan. 1 makes its possible for counties to implement electronic monitoring in lieu of bail for jail inmates who have already been arraigned and spent at least 30 days in custody.

The sheriff noted in documents submitted to the board that nearly 7,000 inmates were returned to the streets last year because the county's five detention facilities -- containing around 4,000 beds -- were maxed out.

Under a two-decade-old federal court decree, the sheriff is required to have a bed for each inmate; if not, he must make space for incoming prisoners.

The early releases are known as "federal kickouts."

Sheriff's officials focus on "low-level" offenders when deciding who should stay or go, according to previous testimony before the board.

Overcrowding has been exacerbated by Assembly Bill 109, according to public safety officials. Under the 2011 realignment legislation, so-called "non-serious, non-violent" offenders convicted of felonies that do not stem from a sex crime are to serve their sentences in local detention facilities.

Proponents of realignment suggested that local jail sentences would be capped at three years, but that has not held true.

Some convicts in local correctional facilities are serving terms in excess of 10 years.

The Secured Electronic Confinement Program would entail attaching ankle bracelets with GPS tracking devices to inmates, who would be subject to weekly compliance checks and required to abide by three-dozen terms and conditions as part of their release from jail. They would effectively still be in custody, though living at home, similar to an individual sentenced to home detention.

Sheriff's officials pointed out that more than 2,000 of last year's kickouts had pending court appearances, and close to one-third failed to show up. The electronic confinement program would aim to preclude that by closely supervising the criminal suspects and alerting them about upcoming court dates, officials said.

Before an inmate can be accepted into the program, he or she would have to fill out an eight-page application that includes employment verification or whether the individual will be attending school, including court-ordered

Application fees could generate an additional $26,520 in revenue to the sheriff's department, officials said.

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