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Santa Clara County Tries Home Jail Experiment

June 8, 1987

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Officials are experimenting with a plan to alleviate jail overcrowding by confining non-violent prisoners in their homes with electronic devices designed to tattle on them if they stray.

The ″house arrest″ system is scheduled for implementation with about 100 prisoners in August, although a decision has yet to be made on the method of electronic supervision.

″Everyone is on notice that this is more than a gleam in our eye. We’re going to do it,″ said Bruce Murray, head of Santa Clara County’s justice system.

Some systems call for an electronic bracelet or anklet and a device that can monitor the bracelet and signal a main computer if the wearer goes too far away.

Such programs have been used in a number of jurisdictions across the nation. In California, Orange County and San Diego use them and Los Angeles plans to start one.

Other systems involve a computer that places random calls to prisoners, who must place their bracelets in a monitor to verify they are home. Authorities said they also are reviewing systems that depend on voice prints or visual telephones.

″People who come out of the programs say that’s harder time than they can imagine doing anywhere else,″ said Suzie Cohen, executive director of the California Probation, Parole and Correctional Association.