Home Confinement: An Alternative to Incarceration
West Virginia state prisons have a maximum capacity of 2,154 inmates; currently they house 2,363 inmates, and more remain in City and County lockups to manage the overflow (West Virginia Blue Book). Home Confinement solves this problem. Reduction of the prison population should be reason enough to institute home confinement, but other reasons do exist. Would you like lower taxes? Home confinement costs much less than incarceration. Do you favor less crime? For certain types of criminals, home confinement has a better rehabilitation rate. Home confinement also differs from incarceration by the fact that it allows the confined person to contribute to society. For all of these reasons, minor offenders, who pose no real threat to society, should be sentenced to home confinement.
The easiest way to solve the overcrowded prison problem is, simply, not to arrest so many people. That will never happen as it cannot be justified. Another alternative, to build more prisons or add on to existing ones, will cost a great deal. Home confinement is the best solution; the offender does not take up space in prison and can hold a job or take care of familial obligation. If a prisoner is under house arrest, it seems nothing prevents him from escaping. In most cases, flight is not a viable option for the home confined. Their sentence is usually light and the reasons for staying outweigh the reasons to run. Still, these offenders can be fitted with wrist or ankle transponders, monitoring devices that alert the authorities if the prisoner leaves his home without authorization, to assure their cooperation. They are allowed to go to work and participate in other selected activities, but their location is known at all times. The device will also alert authorities if it is tampered with; so you cannot simply remove it (Internet). The idea of electronic monitors to track the location of prisoners first arose in the 1960's when Dr. Ralph Schwitzgebel researched, developed, and tested a device capable of doing so. These devices constantly transmit over the telephone or over radio waves (McCarthy 137). Once the prisoner completes his sentence, the device is removed. This seems to be a good idea - it allows someone to be punished but it does not put a halt to their life in general or contribute to the overpopulation of a prison.
Aside from controlling prison populations, another reason for home confinement is certainly cost efficiency. An experiment in Kenton County Kentucky, examined 39 prisoners sentenced to home confinement with electronic monitoring devices for a total of 1,172 days. 1,172 days in jail cost Kenton County $44,512, and the same period of home confinement cost $27,068. A Kenton County judge expressed no shock when viewing these figures: "Any time you can save a bed-day in jail, you have done something positive for the criminal justice system" (Ball 81). In addition,...