Advertisement

Home-monitoring devices may save Berkeley plenty

May 18, 2001

Home-monitoring devices may save Berkeley plenty



Some Berkeley County, W.Va. officials have their doubts, but a home-detention device that cuts the cost of caring for prisoners by $36 per day justifies a detailed review. Its money-saving potential, coupled with the fact that it's been used successfully in other areas, seems to guarantee that any study time won't be wasted.

The device, run by a Colorado company called BI Inc., was brought to the county commissioners by Sheriff Randy Smith earlier this month. Smith also arranged to have representatives of Cabell County attend the meeting.

Those officials told the Berkeley County board that their savings last year were $1.6 million. That's because instead of housing prisoners in a regional jail at a cost of $40 per day, they monitored them at home for just $4.

For Berkeley County, the possible savings are significant, because the commissioners had anticipated spending $2 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1 to house prisoners at the Eastern Regional Jail, an increase of $400,000 over the previous year.

Advertisement

How much could Berkeley County officials save? BI officials estimated the county could cut its jail costs in half. But just as important, using the devices could postpone the day when the Regional Jail has to be expanded.

We agree with Berkeley County Prosecuting Attorney Pamela Games-Neely, who feels the system would not be appropriate for murderers or sex offenders. Nor would it be appropriate for those who have a history of abusive behavior toward their spouses or their children.

But for the vast majority of non-violent offenders - bad-check artists, for example - home detention would be a good alternative, in part because it would isolate offenders from each other.

To deal with concerns about possible tampering, we suggest that county officials contact some of the more than 2,000 agencies using this type of device and find out what problems, if any, they've encountered. If nothing major turns up, "jail time" may gain a whole new meaning in Berkeley County.

The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|