Electronic program demonstrated


April 04, 1993|By Bill Talbott | Bill Talbott,Staff Writer

Will electronic "house arrest" come to Carroll County?

A Rockville company demonstrated its confinement instruments for members of the court, the county commissioners, the sheriff's office and others at the courthouse annex Friday.

Officials of Home Confinement Services Inc., which provides an alternative to jail for offenders, were invited to show the value of their home-monitoring program by Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. of the Carroll Circuit Court.

To make the program work, it must be tied in with either the parole and probation department of the county or the sheriff's office, John T. Kent, owner of the confinement service, told those present at the demonstration.

Capt. Steve Turbin of the Sheriff's Department told the judge that, even with the electronic device, an inmate should be visited regularly and required to report to the detention center weekly for drug and alcohol tests.

Without these requirements, ordered by the sentencing judge, an inmate could remain at home or within the required confinement limitations, but still be on drugs or committing some other illegal act, Captain Turbin said.

Sheriff John H. Brown recently cited crowding at the Carroll County Detention Center in asking the county commissioners for money for an addition to the center.

Home detention could ease the crowding by removing as many as 25 of the 113 current inmates, Captain Turbin said.

Sheriff Brown said he would be interested in the program only for first offenders and only for minor offenses. He said it should not be granted to anyone involved in sex-abuse cases or major crimes.

A home-monitoring program could be operated like the work-release program now conducted through the sheriff's office, Captain Turbin said.

Mr. Kent said those who qualify for the home-monitoring program, not the county, pay the company for one of two types of equipment. The charges are based on the income of the offender.

It costs the county $56 a day to hold an inmate at the detention center.

One monitoring system is passive, the other active.

In the passive system, the offender is monitored through a picture phone and must appear in front of the screen to be identified. An instrument to determine if the person has been drinking can be included and requires the person to blow into a tube similar to a Breathalyzer.

The active system requires the offender to wear a device on the ankle that sends a signal every 70 seconds to the computer center to show that the person is within 150 feet of the home.

If the offender being monitoring misses three cycles, 210 seconds, the computer alerts an operator, and a violation report is submitted.

Those under the home-monitoring program are also required to check in weekly with the monitoring service, Mr. Kent said.

Mr. Kent said his company has been working with Prince George's and Montgomery counties as well as Baltimore City and Baltimore County.

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