Sometimes, when people are sentenced of a crime, they don’t go to jail or prison. Instead, they’re sentenced to house arrest, also called home confinement and or house imprisonment. House arrest is cheaper for the state than sending someone to prison, and it can be a better alternative for the inmate and the inmate’s family. However, it also can be quite expensive.
For offenders without the ability to pay for monitoring and drug tests, house arrest can mean outrageous bills and extended jail time. It might also limit an offender’s privacy longer than a traditional sentence. Before making the request, offenders should understand house arrest rules.
How to Comply With House Arrest Rules
Offenders on house confinement should get used to taking notes. Keeping a logbook to track surprise visits, drug testing and other interactions with law enforcement can be used to request early release down the road. It also can be used when there’s a question of compliance. Someone with a long history of working with the authorities will fare better in a disagreement than one who regularly butts heads with police.
All the states and the federal government have their own house arrest rules. In general, offenders must:
- Follow all city, state and federal laws.
- Cooperate with law enforcement during visits.
- Limit their travels to home, school and other approved locations.
- Limit visitors, phone calls and other communication.
- Pay their fees, fines and other related expenses.
Home confinement violations can lead to jail time, longer sentences and increased financial penalties.
What Is Offender-Funded House Arrest?
Beginning in the mid-2010s, states began to look to offenders to pay for:
- Drug testing.
- Personal care items.
- Ankle monitoring.
- Probation services.
Some states, like Tennessee, even charge inmates for toilet paper, feminine products and other essential care items. Ankle monitoring is among the most expensive services. It can run hundreds of dollars a month. What happens when offenders can’t pay? In some states, like Kentucky, late payments count as home confinement violations.
Offenders on probation and house arrest have been forced back to jail to serve longer sentences because they didn’t pay the fees. Consider the costs associated with serving a sentence in a government facility, payment options and the potential consequences for falling behind. A lawyer can argue a client’s case for not needing an ankle monitor, but they are required in some states to qualify for house arrest.
How Do Ankle Monitors Work?
Ankle monitors are affixed to a person’s lower leg. The devices typically use Bluetooth to connect to a cellphone, which uses an internet connection to transfer data. The monitors are used to track people’s locations using radio frequency (RF) or global positioning system (GPS) technology. RF technology registers whether someone leaves a specific area. GPS tracks someone’s widespread movements. The devices also can be used for other tasks, like testing sweat for alcohol and recording conversations. The monitor’s capabilities are noted in any agreement a prisoner or an offender signs.
The devices create data that is stored for several months or years. This information can be used to implicate offenders in other crimes. The data can be stored by government agencies or private companies hired by the government to provide monitoring services.
Are Ankle Monitors Trustworthy?
As of 2020, there were no known cases of ankle monitors being used to spy on people illegally. Devices with microphones, for instance, must emit a chime before they begin to record. Additionally, no private companies have been caught selling offender data.
The biggest problem when it comes to the devices is connectivity. If an internet signal fails, the electricity goes out, if there’s a problem with the device or the phone it’s connected to, the offender is the one who loses out. That means people who live in out-of-the-way places can use connectivity issues as a reason to argue for house arrest without ankle bracelet requirements.
What Happens If an Ankle Monitor Is Removed?
Removing a monitoring device on house arrest can count like an attempted escape, depending on the laws in their state. If an offender wouldn’t try to break out of jail, she needs to keep her device safe, but more than that. In many states, offenders are also responsible for keeping their devices charged.
Allowing an ankle monitor to run down its battery charge is often viewed as if the offender removed the device. People can even run into problems when a device malfunction or power outage prevents the monitor from working as it should.
Sometimes, an offender needs to remove a monitoring device to receive medical treatment. Unfortunately, people have ended up in jail for removing devices even in emergencies. It’s always best to request permission from the courts before you remove it.
Can Offenders Work on Home Confinement?
Most of the offenders on home confinement are in trouble for fairly minor crimes not involving violence or drugs. They’re considered low-risk repeat offenders as well, so judges sometimes allow them to return to work. Sometimes, having a job is a good reason to request home confinement without ankle bracelet monitoring, as employers can fire workers for wearing ankle bracelets or for being involved in illegal acts.
How Long Do Offenders Have to Wear an Ankle Monitor?
The length of the sentence depends on the state’s laws and the reason for the supervision. In some states, like Michigan, certain offenders must wear a GPS monitoring device for the rest of their lives. In other states, like Florida, ankle monitoring is capped at two years. In California, DUI offenders with ankle bracelets can be monitored for only up to 12 months.
How Can Offenders Request House Arrest Without Ankle Bracelet Equipment?
Ankle monitors are more popular now than ever. Their use has risen over 130 percent in the last 10 years, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re efficient. A few reasons an offender might ask to go without a device include:
- Job conflicts.
- Lack of connectivity.
- Skin irritations.
- Other health issues.
Arguing for an offender’s right to privacy probably won’t go as far as arguing against the risk to someone’s job or school performance.
Can Offenders End House Arrest Early for Good Behavior?
More people are being sentenced to home arrest or monitored probation than in the past. Judges are using the improved technology available to them to benefit society ‒ and the state’s bank accounts. However, that also means it might be easier than in the past to end a sentence early.
In most cases, a lawyer will have to file a Motion for Early Termination. State laws vary quite a bit on the terms and forms required. An offender shouldn’t represent himself if possible. Also, requests are usually more successful once half of the sentence is served or in situations in which the offender has no violations.
Home confinement violations run the gamut from having friends over to selling drugs out of the house. Actions don’t have to be severe to result in severe punishments. Since many infractions are linked to technological issues, it’s usually best to request house arrest without ankle bracelet monitoring. However, even if an offender needs to wear a device, home confinement is often a better alternative than serving a jail sentence.