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Everything You Need to Know About Home Monitoring

When you get arrested, jail time isn’t your only option. Another possibility is home monitoring. If you’re released to home monitoring program, you can stay in your own home during a set time period. You wear an electronic monitoring device, which lets law enforcement know where you are at all times. Some people are ordered under home monitoring as a condition of bail. They can wait for their sentencing at home rather than in prison if they agree to home monitoring terms. However, they may be able to get out of home monitoring by paying bail. In other cases, people are sentenced to home monitoring rather than jail time. While home monitoring isn’t a picnic, most people see it as a better option than jail. Let’s examine all the ins and outs of home monitoring.

What Is the History of Home Monitoring?

Lawmakers have used house arrest for hundreds of years. In the 1600s, Galileo was actually confined to his villa after his trial. Historically, house arrest was difficult for authorities to monitor and people could easily break the terms. Home monitoring became common in the United States in the 1970s with the invention of a powerful electronic monitoring device. The invention came about when Judge Jack Love read a Spider-Man comic that talked about a surveillance device. He then requested computer salesperson Michael Goss to invent one for home monitoring. In 1983, Love issued the first electronic monitoring bracelet. Today, there are thousands of such devices in use.

What Are the Benefits and Drawbacks of Home Monitoring?

Besides helping you avoid jail, home monitoring can benefit you in several ways. Most importantly, it allows you to keep your job or school schedule. Thus, you can continue to earn income and maintain a somewhat normal lifestyle. Depending on the laws in your area, you may also be able to go to medical appointments, religious services, and substance abuse treatment. You may even be allowed to run errands like grocery shopping. Home monitoring also benefits your community. It costs about $26,000 to keep someone in prison for a year, and just $6,000 for a year of home monitoring. However, home monitoring has several possible drawbacks.
  • Your social life is restricted. You typically are not allowed to leave your home for social events and entertainment. You’ll have a curfew, so you can’t go out past a certain hour. If you break the rules, you get sent to jail.
  • You must pay. It costs money for law enforcement to monitor you, so you’re expected to pay a fee for the service. The fee is based on your income and ability to pay.
  • You have a set sentence. In jail, you may be able to get your sentence reduced based on good behavior. This isn’t usually the case with home monitoring.
Do not choose home monitoring because you think you will be able to violate your agreement. Electronic monitors detect tampering. If you try to remove your monitor, it will alert the police. Keep in mind that if you committed a DUI offense, you may have to undergo regular blood monitoring along with house arrest. You must use a device that tests your blood for the presence of drugs and alcohol and sends your result to the authorities. You may even have to wear a device that automatically tests your body for alcohol. A transdermal device can actually detect the presence of alcohol through your sweat. Sometimes the court will also require an interlock device for your car. The interlock device consists of a breath test machine connected to the ignition. If the device detects alcohol on your breath, it won’t allow you to start your car.

How Do You Qualify for Home Monitoring?

The courts don’t allow everyone to undergo home monitoring instead of other options. But you can often request home monitoring if you meet any of the following criteria:
  • You have consistently held a job
  • This is your first offense
  • You did not commit a violent offense
  • Jail time seems too harsh a punishment for your crime
Juvenile offenders are often awarded home monitoring because they are under parental supervision. If you’re hoping to go on home monitoring rather than jail or if you’re hoping to get out of home monitoring entirely, you need to post bail. The cost of bail depends on the crime you committed. Most people cannot afford to pay the full cost of bail. In that case, turn to a bail bonds company. For a fee, a bail bonds company will cover the full cost of your bail. As long as you show up to your court dates, you won’t have to pay anything else. However, if you fail to arrive at your court dates, you must pay the cost of bail. Talk to a bail bonds company today about your options.