Monitoring bracelets get GPS upgrade

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Darryl Enriquez
Saturday, March 12, 2011
— The Walworth County Sheriff’s Office plans to upgrade its electronic monitoring bracelets to include global positioning satellite technology, allowing staff to continually track inmates serving their sentences in the community.

Sheriff David Graves on Friday said the new bracelets likely would save the county money by allowing the release of more inmates.

Graves presented the program to the Walworth County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, which has sought ways to cut the cost of jail operations.

The only inmates now released on bracelets to serve their sentences at home are those with Huber privileges for work, childcare or to care for a family member with health issues.

Huber inmates not eligible for the bracelet program are required to spend their evenings in the Huber dormitory.

Graves said he is considering allowing jobless inmates to be released to their homes, too. In doing that, he said, the county would not have the expense of feeding and housing them.

“If they’re going to sit, it’s better that they do it at home and not cost the county money,” Graves said.

Bracelets with GPS technology would allow the sheriff’s office to more closely track inmates in the community.

The current bracelets cannot track inmates much beyond their homes. Bracelets are strapped around inmates’ ankles and base stations are connected to inmates’ telephones.

If an inmate travels beyond the range of the base, the jail is alerted.

Many of the released inmates go to jobs, making their whereabouts untraceable when they are out of base range.

With GPS, there would be few places inmates could go and not be found.

As an example, Graves said GPS bracelets could tell sheriff’s staff if inmates were speeding in their cars. Bracelets could be programmed to alert authorities if inmates visit taverns, he said.

Walworth County Jail Administrator Mike Schmitz said Rock County Jail officials have successfully used GPS bracelets.

“It’s a better monitoring system than we have now,” Graves told committee members.

The sheriff’s office began its electronic monitoring program in mid-2006. Expanding to GPS would be the office’s first program upgrade.

Last year, 92 inmates were released with bracelets, most of them serving time for drunken driving.

Of the 92, 73 completed the program without any violations, and 11 are still enrolled. Of the eight who failed, five were caught drinking, one used drugs and two violated their probation.

Last updated: 4:46 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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