The new equipment contract for the home incarceration program is producing positive results, and as of Thursday morning, the program’s coordinator said 12 were on the new system, two were pending in district court and two more were waiting.
Special Deputy Steve Noble is the coordinator for the program, and at a June 29 Fiscal Court meeting, he presented the favored equipment contractor, Texas-based Satellite Tracking of People LLC, or STOP.
Under the contract, the Sheriff’s Office simply pays for the leasing of the company’s equipment — GPS systems, radio frequency lines and home administerable drug tests — rather than paying for administrative or hookup fees and drug testing.
The county no longer pays for unused units, and under the new contract can purchase at-home drug tests in bulk of 25 for Sheriff’s Office employees to administer to participants.
Whereas participants used to pay the former company $100 for initial hookup fees and $12 per day for house arrest equipment, and the county got back $3 a day, now the Sheriff’s Office directly charges participants $50 for initial hookup fees and $7 a day for equipment for each day on house arrest. Now, the county makes about $4 a day from cellular units and $5.50 a day on landline units.
Participants on house arrest for 90 days or less are no longer required to install a landline, and the county places insurance costs directly on participants.
Noble said the new contract was signed the day of the Fiscal Court meeting, and the first order for equipment was shipped out July 1. Training to show members of the Sheriff’s Office how the new Web-based tracking system operates, along with how to install and deactivate equipment, was done on July 7.
He said all participants were switched over from the old system to the new one by July 11, and he called the new system “fantastic.”
County Attorney Brian Thomas, who worked on the contract, said the new contract gives the county more flexibility and a better ability to monitor defendants.
“We’re able to do everything from a PC¿or laptop, and I get an update … any time there’s a change — even if somebody’s charging the units or if their battery’s low,” he said, adding that everyone in the program has been compliant.
With House Bill 463 in effect since June 8, previous charges that would result in jail time now can result in citations or home incarceration instead, which is expected to increase home incarceration participation around the state. But Noble didn’t say that was a reason for choosing the new equipment company.
The contract with the old company was up, and Noble said the decision to go with STOP¿was based on price.
Noble said the new law creates increases in home incarceration participation because a person cited with previous offenses or a person who’s a flight risk would go to a detention center until trial. However, he said, if pre-trial rules that the person can serve time until trial, he or she can choose home incarceration.
“I think, before the summer’s up, we’ll probably average around 40 to 45 participants a day that we’re monitoring,” he said.
Contact Katie Perkowski at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her Twitter, @TheSunKatie.