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Board OKs Program for Home Detention

The county Probation Department has started a new program that will permit low-risk jail inmates to be confined outside the county’s overcrowded detention system through the use of an electronic surveillance system.

The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved the plan, which does not rely on public financing. Instead, private security firms selected to handle the surveillance contract will bill the inmates.

Because of the county bankruptcy, the Probation Department was forced to scrap its own electronic confinement system earlier this year. A new state law allows counties to use private contractors to provide the service.

Under terms of the new program, the county will select nonviolent offenders who will essentially be under house arrest as they serve their sentences.

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The offenders will wear special bracelets that set off an alarm if they leave their homes, said John Robinson of the Probation Department.

The county will allow some of the inmates to work during the day, he added.

“This brings back on line a very good alternative to traditional incarceration,” Robinson said.

Supervisors on Tuesday expressed support for the new program. But they did make a slight amendment to the proposal that will allow several vendors to provide surveillance services to county.

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The Probation Department had suggested granting an exclusive contract to one firm.


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