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Home jailing begins in Jefferson County

April 28, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The cost of housing inmates at Eastern Regional Jail near Martinsburg, W.Va., is an issue that periodically catches the attention of local elected officials.

Such was the case earlier this month when the Jefferson County Commission received a bill for $92,000, the cost of housing Jefferson County inmates at the jail in March.

"This is incredible," Commissioner Rusty Morgan said.

It was nothing new to Jefferson County Administrator Leslie Smith.

"I think one time, it was over $100,000," Smith said.

Officials are hoping jail costs can be reduced through home confinement, which started April 14 in Jefferson County.

Through home confinement, people serving time for crimes are allowed to be confined to their homes rather than being sent to jail.

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People on home confinement are monitored through a transmitter, which is placed on their ankle, said Sgt. Earl Ballenger of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department.

The transmitter is programmed to allow participants to leave home for work or other activities, such as a doctor's appointment, Ballenger said.

Otherwise, participants are not able to move more than 150 feet from a monitor in the home without an alarm sounding, Ballenger said.

If an alarm is activated, police are notified, Ballenger said.

To be on home detention, participants pay a fee, which is based on their income, said Ballenger. Most people on home detention are nonviolent offenders, Ballenger said.

The first person to go on home confinement in Jefferson County was John Hardy, who was hooked up to the system on April 14, Ballenger said.

Hardy, 27, of 112 N. West St. in Charles Town, will be on home confinement for six months for a conviction of driving revoked for DUI, Ballenger said.

Ballenger said his department has home detention devices for 12 people and can obtain more if necessary.

Berkeley and Morgan counties already use home confinement.

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