Ankle monitors

Also on the Commissioners Court agenda this week, Harris County will take another small step towards reducing its jail population by experimenting with ankle monitors for low-risk inmates.

Commissioners Court granted Sheriff Adrian Garcia permission Tuesday to do a trial run on 10 to 20 inmates who work outside the jail under armed guard. If the technology works, the sheriff would come back to the court with plans to try it on unsupervised inmates who would serve their sentences at home.

“We’ll seek permission and court orders to keep certain inmates in our custody, but not necessarily in our jail. Obviously, the idea is to keep Harris County safe and save money in the process,” Garcia told the court.

Last year, local judges sentenced about 800 offenders to serve their sentences on weekends, allowing them to leave jail and keep their jobs during the week. Those 800 inmates had to be booked into and released from jail approximately 10,000 times, the sheriff said.

“‚ÄČ’Weekenders,’ as we refer to them, take up costly jail cells that we would otherwise want to save for accused offenders that are a true danger to the public,” Garcia said.

Seems sensible to me, and I hope it works out. I doubt it will have much effect on the jail population – as we’ve discussed many times by now, things like probation reform so that offenders don’t choose it as the less onerous option to jail time, and more use of personal recognizance bonds, will have a much more salutary effect – but every little bit will help, and all reasonable options should be employed. Grits has noted that ankle monitors aren’t a panacea and will still require manpower, so we’ll see how this experiment goes.

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