PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) – As law enforcement agencies across the state of Arkansas continue looking for ways to reduce prison and jail populations, the city of Paragould is using a relatively new piece of technology to hold would-be inmates at home. According to Jack Hailey with the Paragould Police Department, the city is using the services of Sentencing Options Specialists out of Fort Smith, which monitors specialized ankle bracelets. The bracelets are worn by certain individuals who are almost finished with their sentence for non-violent crimes.
"We put them on the ankles of the person who is due to be incarcerated and it is monitored by a GPS, which follows them basically like any other GPS," said Hailey. "It's designed in a way that it can't be taken off, because it has a switch in there. Once that switch is broken, it sends an alert to the technician and shows that it has been tampered with."
Hailey said no matter how many criminals are available for the program; Sentencing Options Specialists can provide additional bracelets. The company installed four bracelets for the Paragould Police Department Wednesday.
"They do not go on anyone who has been convicted of a violent crime, such as a battery or a domestic battery. They do not go on anyone who has any more than a DWI-3 offense as well," said Hailey. "They go on people who have less than 90 days to serve, typically."
Hailey said there's a substantial saving when comparing the bracelets to housing inmates in a county jail. Most of Paragould's inmate population is sent to the Clay County Detention Center.
"It costs $15 a day. It's a $50 installation that we charge up front and it's $15 a day to have the bracelet attached. That's versus $28-30 to have someone incarcerated in a detention center," said Hailey. "We've saving about $13 a day per inmate that we would have had otherwise incarcerated."
Hailey said the cost of housing inmates, transportation and medical situations can put thousands of dollars worth of strain on the police department. He said ankle bracelets have saved the department at least $22,000 in the last five months.
"It's 31 miles one way to Clay County, so you're looking at 62 miles. Then it's 50 miles to Randolph County, so it's substantial just on transportation alone. Fuel cost alone is a substantial savings," said Hailey. "The person who would be incarcerated otherwise is left home with their family. It saves us on transportation costs back and forth and plus the daily cost that it would cost us to have them incarcerated."
"If they do have a job, they (captains) will let them go from home to work and then let them return to home. Even then, there's a certain number of places and a certain route they should be on and if they deviate from that, then we know," said Hailey.
Hailey said the bracelets are also good for inmates and their families. "We have the overcrowding issue and then we have the budget issues as well, so with this we're kind of trying to knock both of those issues out of the way," said Hailey.