As of 2009, the state of West Virginia has instituted, as part of its criminal code, a set of rules governing house arrest or home incarceration. The rules are spelled out in Chapter 62, Section 11B, and cover what is expected from one who has been sentenced to house arrest rather than a prison sentence. "House" arrest can include not merely the home of the convict, but also mental hospitals or halfway houses. In the West Virginia laws, house arrest is considered a form of parole.
The term of any house arrest sentence must be the same length of time as a prison sentence for the same crime, and cannot vary from what the law has laid down. The central principle is that the convict must be easy to reach. For each convict, the home must be electrified and have a working telephone. It is clear in the law that the law enforcement officers assigned to the case must be able to monitor the convict (at least) by phone on a regular basis.
The convict is confined to the home at all times with a few exceptions. The convict may work outside the home or, if unemployed, can seek out work. The convict can see doctors and receive all reasonable medical care. In addition, the convict can also worship anywhere he chooses and cannot be forbidden to do so. Otherwise, the convict must remain confined.
For each convict under house arrest, a probation officer is assigned to the case. Because of this, the convict must pay a fee that covers at least part of the cost of monitoring as well as the efforts of the probation officer. It might be the case that the money could be wired for video surveillance, but all of this is at the discretion of the judge in the case. The judge can even waive the fee if the convict has no reasonable means to pay. If the fees are in excess of the costs of home incarceration, then any additional monies go to help fund the prison system.
If the offender is a violent criminal, the term of house arrest cannot be in the same house as the victim. Clearly, this is aimed at domestic violence cases. The perpetrator must find alternative housing so as to avoid contact with the victim.
If the convict violates the terms, at the discretion of a judge, the perpetrator might be sentenced to fill the sentence in prison. Any home incarceration time spent is not credited to the prison sentence.
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