House arrest saves lives and money in Benton County

BENTON COUNTY, Wash. -- KEPR learned a home-monitoring system is holding prisoners accountable for their crimes in Benton County -- while saving you money.

It's amazing what such a small, noisy device can do. No taller than a mini-calculator, ankle bracelets could be the solution to saving your money, while also saving lives.

Home arrest was "Mike's" punishment for meth addiction.

KEPR asks "Mike", "Where would you be if you never served house arrest?"
-"Probably jail, a mental institution, or dead," he answers.

For 30 days, "Mike"donned an ankle bracelet and couldn't leave his home. He says the first few days were the hardest.

"It's not as bad at the end of it... but in the beginning, it's really boring."

"Mike's" story is becoming the norm rather than the exception. At any given time, more than a dozen prisoners serve their time on house arrest in Benton County. That's dozens of people who are not draining the jail of your tax dollars.

It costs $68 per inmate each day to keep prisoners locked up at Benton County Jail. By having them serve time at home, the savings are substantial from the very beginning.

The savings in just one year? More than $400,000, all because nonviolent offenders are serving their time at home. Each move is tracked by a central computer, meaning accountability for those who need it the most.

"You're not allowed to go to the movies, no events, nothing. They're restricted to home, work, and a two hour furlough a week," says Commander Jon Law, Benton County Sheriff's Office"

KEPR asks "Mike", "How do you feel being clean for a year?"
"I'm relieved," he says. "I'm relieved of the fact that I don't have to wake up and wonder where all my drugs are."

It's why the county thinks ankle bracelets are a smart way to save money and save lives.