House Bill 306, a bill that established standards for in-home electronic monitoring, took effect July 1, 2009. The law is intended to reduce jail crowding and spending by offering an alternate method of restraining and tracking suspects awaiting trial. The law sets down rules for pretrial release of offenders and the privately held companies responsible for monitoring house-arrest inmates. House arrest is no longer used in Georgia except when the suspect is monitored by an electronic monitoring device, usually an ankle bracelet. Georgia does not use house arrest as an alternative to post-trial confinement.
Offenders can be released on house-arrest terms as a bond alternative with approval of the court and at the court's sole discretion. Offenders who have outstanding warrants, indictments or orders of incarceration in any other jurisdiction are not eligible for electronic release. The court can revoke an electronic monitoring release at any time. Violation of any condition of release will result in a return to custody.
Individuals under pre-trial electronic release must agree to several conditions. The accused cannot leave home unless specified by the release agreement. Provisions do exist to allow for receiving medical care, restricted work hours and required activities such as grocery shopping. The accused must honor all restraining orders, must provide support to his dependents to the best of his ability and cannot violate any additional laws or ordinances. He must agree to maintain the monitoring device in good working order and to notify the monitoring company of any known malfunction of the device. The accused is restricted in the use of alcohol and legal medications and is subject to testing for excess alcohol levels and use of illicit substances at any time. The accused must pay for an established portion of the monitoring services in a timely manner.
The company that provides the monitoring service acts as the bond agent and is liable for the capture of escaped offenders under its supervision or the payment of bond fees as per the regulations governing bail bond agents. All monitoring devices must be external. Implantation of tracking devices is banned in Georgia. Electronic monitoring companies must abide by all federal, state and local laws. They must give the court a contact person that can be reached at all times and must provide real-time access to GPS tracking information on all released offenders under their supervision. They must maintain all equipment in good working order. A sheriff can remove from the approved list for her jurisdiction any company that fails to abide by any condition of release, fails to monitor and restrict any offender or acts in any way that the sheriff believes warrants their removal.
Maggie Worth has more than 18 years of marketing and business management experience. She has conducted training classes in resume, fiction and web writing and has written textbooks, resumes, professional and technical documents, ad copy, video scripts and articles for lifestyle magazines. She is director of marketing communications strategy and special projects for a university.