Federal Prison System Wins Order Tossing Out Judge’s Sentence
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ The U.S. Bureau of Prisons won’t pay for electronic monitoring of two counterfeiters, as ordered by a judge, even though it’s cheaper than putting them in prison or in halfway houses.
U.S. District Judge James Paine said he was trying to reduce the cost of caring for prisoners when he sentenced the counterfeiters to monitored house arrests instead of putting them behind bars.
It costs the government about $35 a day to imprison criminals and about $25 to keep them in halfway houses. A house arrest monitored by electronic devices costs less than $10 daily.
Paine ruled that the bureau should pay for the experimental sentence he gave Fred Lorinz and Edward Ringer in January.
But the bureau refused.
″I’m sorry (the bureau) didn’t find some way to make the payments,″ Paine said Monday. ″It’s pretty hard to rehabilitate people when they’re behind bars.″
During the six-month house arrest Paine ordered for Lorinz and Ringer, they must wear the devices, which can determine whether they are in their homes at certain hours of the day as sentenced.
Although state judges have used the home-monitering devices for more than a year, it was the first such experiment in the federal system. In Palm Beach County, people given similar sentences pay a portion of the cost of the supervision.
The prison bureau asked Paine to reconsider and last week the judge reluctantly ordered Lorinz and Ringer to pay for their own monitoring.
However, Paine said he hoped the bureau of prisons would consider paying for such monitoring in the future.
The bureau is only authorized to pay for confinement and Paine’s order was more like probation, said Patricia Sledge, executive assistant to the bureau’s director in Washington, D.C.
But Bob Widmann, who heads the U.S. Probation Office in West Palm Beach, said he thinks the bureau could have - and should have - paid for the devices.
″I would have thought the Bureau of Prisons would have been a little more responsive,″ Widmann said. ″I think it’s a setback as far as a sentencing alternative goes. If society looks to improve its criminal justice system, I think this is an impediment.″