House Arrests, Saving Scottsdale Tax-Dollars and Jail Cells

Flickr user: Alex E. Proimos

With such strict DUI laws, it’s no wonder Arizona jails are seeing an influx of inmates in recent years. But full jail cells mean empty pockets for taxpayers, and Scottsdale city leaders look for ways to trim costs.

Estimated costs for holding a single inmate for one year is at minimum $20,000. Nationwide, billions of dollars are spent to house, clothe and feed inmates, a large majority of whom have committed petty crimes.

So Scottsdale legislators are looking to cut costs and are considering house arrest for those who have been convicted of driving drunk. Ankle monitors may soon be an option for Scottsdale’s convicted drunken drivers.

These home detention programs aren’t new. In fact, Arizona law has allowed a city or town to create such programs for years, and most Valley city courts already have similar programs. But Scottsdale City Court officials are finally ready to make such a program for its jurisdiction.

On a second offense, DUI offenders are sentenced with about 180 days in jail. That’s roughly $9,000 worth of costs for the city to incarcerate that person for that period of time.

The home-detention and electronic-monitoring plan is scheduled to go before the Scottsdale City Council on its April 27 consent agenda. If approved, court officials hope to have a program in place by summer.

Scottsdale is estimated to pay Maricopa County jails about $3.5 million for the coming fiscal year if nothing changes. A home-detention program is projected to save from $600,000 to $1 million per year.

Officials see the advantage in this type of program to be that home detention helps drunken driving offenders keep their jobs and, in turn, they will be more able to reimburse the court for jail costs.

Certain convicted drunken drivers wouldn’t be eligible, such as a violent person or someone who poses any other additional danger. Also ineligible would be anyone with a domestic violence conviction or if they are unemployed. But he estimates as many as half of Scottsdale’s DUI defendants could participate.

A device would be placed on the person’s home telephone line to determine whether the person is home. The ankle bracelet allows the offender to be away a certain number of feet away from the house.

If they are not home when they say they are, the monitoring company makes a call. Then they notify the court that they weren’t in compliance. Offenders would also have to take a breath alcohol test once a day.

Ultimately, home detention is an option in sentencing.

They’re not free. They still have to stay home, but people would better be able to go on with their lives and able to keep their jobs.

This post was intended to provide general information only and is not intended as specific legal advice. You should not rely upon this information alone, but should consult legal counsel regarding the application of the laws and regulations discussed and as applied to your specific case or circumstance.