Is house arrest an alternative to prison?

By Marie Owens

Increasing the Use of House Arrest

While our federal and local governments teeter on the brink of financial collapse, lawmakers at every level are scrambling to bring their exploding budgets under control. According to Darrell Issa, Chairman of the House Committee of Oversight, fraud, waste and abuse account for around 7 percent of all government spending. Things are no different on local levels. Santa Clara County Supervisor George Shirakawa Jr. overspent his $1 million-plus office budget by $87,500. In fact, there isn’t a state in America that isn’t in debt. However, exasperated taxpayers are tired of funding such squandering, and are demanding spending cuts. So while they consider the obvious financial inequities of their spending, consider the potential savings that can be created by something a bit more obscure.

Beginning in the 1970s the federal government, and nearly every state legislative body, has enacted a variety of mandatory sentencing policies, which primarily targeted drug offenses and other non-violent crimes. Additionally, there was also the institution of such initiatives as the “three strikes and you’re out” laws. As anyone with a criminal justice degree will tell you, it is due to these tougher sentencing policies that the United States currently incarcerates a higher share of its population than any other country in the world.

According to data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the prison population rose 380 percent from 1980 to 2008. In the meantime, the United States Census data revealed that the nation’s population rose only 33 percent during the same period. Comparatively speaking, the number of people incarcerated in state and federal facilities has grown ten times faster than the rate of our entire population. In 2008, the U.S. correctional system held over 2.3 million inmates. Of those, 60 percent were non-violent offenders. With an incarceration rate of 753 prisoners per every 100,000 people in 2008, there has been about a 240 percent increase of the number of people in prison since 1980. Thus the fact that we have passed into our third decade of these mandatory sentencing policies and have seen incarceration levels raise rather than diminish, it is fair to conclude that these laws have failed.

According to Public Agenda:

The underlying problem is that American society is too lenient with violent criminals, thereby encouraging lawlessness. Serious crimes deserve serious punishment, no matter who commits them. Whether criminals are youths or adults and whether the crime is a first offense or a subsequent offense it must be punished unequivocally. The most promising solution is to get tougher with all criminals, to step up enforcement efforts, impose longer jail and prison sentences, and build more prisons.

Conversely, statistics seem to suggest that the dramatic increase of the combined state and federal prison populations has more to do with these new tough on crime policy changes than demographics. Despite an overall drop in crime rates, prison populations are on the rise. More succinctly put, were it not for these no-tolerance sentencing guidelines, 60.9 percent of the prisoners being supported by taxpayers in state or federal facilities would have otherwise been given an alternative sentence.

At a cost of roughly $30,000 per prisoner, it costs American taxpayers approximately $70 billion per year to confine and care for its prisoners. Unfortunately, these infuriating figures account only for the expense of feeding, housing, guarding and providing health care for the inmates. Additional revenue is lost in the community when prisoners are not working, paying taxes and supporting their local economy. However, there is a unique alternative to simply sending criminals to their taxpayer funded rooms. It’s called: house arrest.

In Raleigh, North Carolina, parents who don’t pay child support often wind up in overcrowded jails. Ironically, incarcerating the offender further precludes them from working in order to meet their parental obligation, effectively making the law-abiding citizens pay inmate support through taxes. However, Wake County District Court Judge Kristin Ruth is successfully using house arrest to turn deadbeat parents into paying parents. Where the average cost to taxpayers to support a North Carolina inmate is $65.29 per day, the daily cost for house arrest is a mere $9.39.

In Atlanta, Georgia, despite billions being spent on prison systems that are supposed to help rehabilitate them, over 40 percent of ex-cons are re-incarcerated for another crime within three years of their release. Even while funding for corrections departments has increased, from $30 billion to $52 billion in only ten years, recidivism rates continue to rise on a staggering average of 43 percent. In an effort to defray the expenses associated with house arrest programs, many states actually require offenders to pay a portion of the cost. In Ohio, offenders sentenced to house arrest must pay $5 per day to allay the burden they place on taxpayers. In Alaska, their adjudicated reprobates must pay $14. Frequently, offenders are even made responsible for covering the cost for installation of the electronic monitoring equipment and the expense of required drug testing.

The largest house arrest program in the country is Florida’s Community Control Program. Established in 1983 this program handled 20,000 offenders by 1990. Community parolees are required to support themselves and their families. They must also perform community service, pay restitution and supervision fees of $30-$50 per month. In addition, they must maintain a log of their daily activities and comply with restrictions on their movement. Program evaluation indicates that over 50 percent of the offenders would have otherwise gone to prison at the expense of taxpayers while the rest would have been placed on probation.

Of course, the key to success with house arrest programs is to target the appropriate offenders. While clearly an inappropriate alternative for violent criminals, statistics show that house arrest is working for first-time and non-violent offenders. With proper surveillance and treatment, participants in this alternative program are more likely to learn their lesson and come out as productive members of society. While home detention programs are not perfect, the current method of mass incarceration is clearly dysfunctional and costly. Perhaps it is time to examine this alternative with greater scrutiny and consideration. After all, it is the criminals who should be paying for their crimes, not the taxpayers who are forced to support them in jail.

As a prospective law student in Washington state, Marie Owens is particularly interested in criminal law and gender issues. She writes to promote criminal justice education, and teaches martial arts in her spare time.

39 thoughts on “Is house arrest an alternative to prison?

  1. House arrest seems like an excellent way to move non-violent offenders back into the community instead of far away in prison. But the cost savings from having the offenders pay for part of the technical expense, the fines, restitution, child support arrears, etc. from their wages in the community assumes there are jobs available for offenders to work at. If they retained their job after being convicted, that’s great, but of course one of the greatest factors associated with criminal behavior and conviction is poverty, which is a big part of the problem that the hyper-incarceration system developed for. If house arrest were to become the cost-saving panacea of the US criminal justice system, it might well prove ineffective due to the mass unsuitability of urban latino/a and black offenders for house arrest because of : community factors; relatives have felony records, housing is too inconsistent, judge doubts sincerity/bad attitude, etc. There appear to be too many excess workers to sentence to prison right now, but no noticible bands riding the rails as about 80 years ago.

  2. House arrest is an excellent idea, however; each individual needs to be judged individually for this program. Jobs are hard to find; look at the thousands who applied at Mc Donalds. The inmate also should have a support system in place, such as; a family member or loved one who will give them shelter, and help them with tranportation to look for a job and other support while they search for work and get a pay check.

  3. I writing to you today because I have an idea that I would like to come to life and not sure how to make it happen. I want to start a farm/ranch that would house people that are on house arrest instead of them being in a small house or an apartment. I would like them to have a place to work and care for animals and have some self worth. I feel that the reason they keep going back to jail is because they have no place to go but back to the place or people that had gotten them in the situation.
    So what i would like to offer is a safe haven for the people who have to do a year or more on house arrest. I feel that they would benefit from that way of life and having some responsibly and learn at the same time. I do not know if there is any place like that. I know that there is really gifted people in jail that have never gotten the chance to prove them self or really have anyone that cared.
    I have gave this so much thought and just don’t know how to start it. I feel that i could save a lot of families and children a lot of heartache if i can get this off the ground.

  4. House Arrest, and specifically the electronic home monitoring program are an excellent idea. It is a cost effective way to reduce the prison population, solving in part the problem of inmate violence. To further solve these problems The United States Federal Government should put all property criminals(burglary, fraud etc.) and drug possession offenders the didn’t also commit a violent crime under house arrest, and use the Electronic Home Monitoring Program specifically for those people.The Electronic Home Monitoring Program is a safe and reliable way of incarcerating non-violent inmates. A surgically attached ankle bracelet that monitors location, alcohol, and drug consumption is attached, if the offender violates the bounds of the house arrest or tampers with the bracelet then it automatically sends a signal to a central computer, which sends a signal to the local police station. Then the officers go and arrest the offender. So in the plan I presented if an offender tampers with, violates their house arrest or tries to escape then their sentence is doubled. To put it simply when a government takes away ones ability to defend themselves the government assumes that responsibility. But we see that the government has failed that responsibility, when a person gets put in prison they can’t defend themselves so the government has to, but the amount of inmate violence in monumental, and on the rise, and it is mainly a result of overcrowded prisons. By moving these offenders(about 45% of the total federal prison population) we solve the problem, and save a lot of money. And having a parent, spouse, or sibling in prison is devastating to the family. The purpose of prison is to rehabilitate, not punish. Putting these offenders on house arrest puts them back with their family, solving yet another problem. I don’t know how to make this idea more widely known of, but it is a solid plan, the United States Federal Criminal Justice System should adopt it.

  5. House arrest for nonviolent offenders is a great idea. It saves lots of money, reduces overcrowding… etc. Ditto to everything that Josh said.

  6. I believe that house arrest is a bad idea. First off, there would have to be strict requirements on which “non-violent” offenders get released. For example here is some non-violent crimes:
    Stalking, 1st Degree
    Harassment, 1st Degree
    Burglary, 2nd degree
    Larceny, 1st degree
    Credit card theft
    Forgery, 1st degree
    Money laundering, 1st degree
    Manufacturing bomb
    Corrupt organizations and racketeering
    Violation of probation or conditional discharge
    Conspiracy
    Attempt
    Inciting injury to person or property
    Coercion

    Are these really people we want back in society? Secondly, the idea of house arrest in general is flawed. In my humble opinion, house arrest is not a punishment. Either the government should punish someone (prison) or let them go. Also, house arrest is not a deterrent. People on house arrest become more likely to commit a crime as a sentence comes to an end. Most of the people who are put on house arrest are near the end of their sentence, which begs the question why they are on house arrest in the first place. What is the whole point of the criminal justice system? Obviously to serve justice. If all we are worried about is budgets and prison overcrowding, why not just release the prisoners. Seriously, there is more to a justice system then money.

  7. Good point, we don’t want just anyone out on the street, which is why victimless criminals should be put on house arrest(86% of the federal prison population) This would still solve overcrowding, and yet be safe for the public. And John, they will not be more likely to commit a crime after getting released, as stated in the above article, House arrest reduces recidivism. So someone on house arrest is actually LESS likely to commit a crime after being released. Is it justice to put them on house arrest? well, let’s look at a few things. 1st, in prison, the prisoners are pampered, they have food, clothes, access to recreation equipment, ipads, laptops, tv’s free internet. does that sound like justice? and on the other hand, there is an annual serious assault rate(in federal prison) of 4615. that is just the serious assaults, prisons right now are so overcrowded a few of them have actually been ruled as “cruel and unusual” punishment by the supreme court.

    But, by putting these criminals that aren’t going to harm anyone on house arrest, a valid punishment then this will reduce all prison violence. So then there is the question once again, is it a valid punishment? Yes, think about, you can go to work, the grocery, and any rehabilitation programs that you are on. No party’s no sporting events, no hanging out with friends. It’s like a dog on a chain just out of reach of it’s food dish, he’s almost there…..but yet he can’t have it. the prisoner is almost free, and there are ALWAYS things there to remind the prisoner that he can’t have them, that is a very valid punishment.

  8. Let me educate you Josh. First, let us look at “victimless crimes”. What are victimless crimes. The most obvious is drugs then, weapons charges, immigration, public drunkenness, etc. Looking at these on the surface, you might think that these people pose no threat to society. First, even though drug crimes are victimless, many people commit violent crimes or crimes with victims to fund their addiction. Secondly on weapons charges, why would some one buy a gun illegally. Does not take a genius to figure that it is probably because they are doing something illegal or are going to do something illegal.

    Next going to your point about recidivism. Recidivism statistics are sometimes unreliable. Most of these statistics only include crimes committed 3 years after a prisoner has been released. So, let us look at this logically. Why would people on house arrest be less likely to “recidivate”. Maybe it is because they are on house arrest and if they do something illegal since they are being monitor they would be more likely to get caught. I bet if someone did a study about the recidivism rate that included the persons entire life, you would not find any difference in the rates among prison and house arrest rates.

    You’re point about prisoners getting pampered and being assaulted basically contradicted themselves.

    Ok, so going down to your final paragraph. First, you assert that these prisoners will not cause harm. Well, they tried a system similar to this in Illinois and they had to get rid of it because public safety was harmed. The governor of Illinois himself called it a big mistake. How is house arrest a punishment. House arrest is by no stretch of the imagination a punishment. All it is, is basically a monitoring program. Which this brings me to a new argument, if the government was ever to implement a large house arrest program, arrest rates would skyrocket. The reason the prisons are overcrowded right now is because the government tries to catch as many people as they can. I can only imagine what would happen if the government had house arrest at their disposal.

    Going back to my point that you never responded to. I said that if its all about prison violence and money, why not release them? There is more to a criminal justice system then money and statistics. There are certain things you can not measure (like justice). I would like to add one more thing to my above justice argument in my previous post. Justice needs equality. Prison serves as a way of equal punishments for people who have committed the same crime. If house arrest were to be implemented, you would have unequal justice. You would have people like Lindsey Lohan in her million dollar house while poor pete lives in a shack. Is that equal punishment? I think the answer is obvious.

    And to your example of a dog, I think a better example would be 1984.

  9. John- 1984? Really? (totally assuming that you’re referring to the book… hope I’m right, haha!). Remember, in 1984, they are monitoring EVERYONE, not just prisoners. House Arrest would monitor criminal offenders- totally different than monitoring everyone.

    You say that house arrest isn’t a punishment? I disagree. House arrest is taking away a person’s liberty- allowing them to be in their own home, but keeping them accountable to the government. You think house arrest isn’t a just punishment? I’d say that it’s not a just punishment to place a nonviolent offender in an overcrowded and violent prison.

    You say “The reason the prisons are overcrowded right now is because the government tries to catch as many people as they can”. Again, I disagree. The reason prisons are overcrowded is that we have SO. MANY. LAWS. The more laws there are, the more people that get put in prison.

    You kind of contradict yourself, John. You talk about how justice needs equality…. how Lindsey Lohan gets to stay in her fancy house while some poor guy will have to stay in his little shack. You say that that’s not equality. However, you said that “There are certain things you can not measure (like justice).” If justice cannot be measured, then how can you have “equality”?

    Here’s the deal: House arrest is NOT perfect, I admit. But neither is prison. Some people can get out of house arrest… true. People can break out of prison. Prisons are currently overcrowded… which leads to violence. House arrest for certain offenders may not be the perfect solution, but it currently would have advantages over prison- reduced overcrowding and therefore reduced violence; saves money. And what if the offender has a family? a job? house arrest can help him to stay with his family/keep his job (or look for a job if he doesn’t have one).

  10. And John, let me ask you this. Is prison violence being solved right now? I’m pretty sure we all agree that it is bad, and being mostly right is better than being completely wrong. As Anne said, house arrest isn’t perfect but it is a heck of a lot better than prison……for CERTAIN offenders.

  11. Okay this is the REAL Spencer D. and I don’t exactly appreciate being impersonated…. but I am honored that someone would take my name to try and find out who is commenting, but forreal people, who was it? Someone had better fess up and email, pm, or fb me. Or people are gonna die, and no little ankle thingy will help, or house arrest. lol

  12. Ok, first off, you guys ignored like fifty of my points, so let me reiterate them for you.
    My point is if your not going to punish them, don’t monitor them. This is how our liberties start to slide, the government slowly taking control of our lives. First, the plan you state (Josh) is probably unconstitutional. There is past decisions that would say so. Look up Winston v. Lee.

    Ok, to your point about punishment, you said, “House arrest is… keeping them accountable to the government.” This is where we disagree. The purpose of government is not to make people accountable to the government. People are accountable to God and society, not the government. The government is the one that enforces natural and human laws. Now, I do believe as Christians people should be subject to the government, but the point of government is not to make people accountable to it. Again, non-violent crimes are still bad crimes. Here’s a list, I think the average person would not want these people in society (http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/rpt/2010-R-0157.htm).

    Ok, your point about to many laws. Yes! there are to many laws, but the government tries to catch as many criminals as they can under those laws. To truly solve overcrowding, we shouldn’t implement house arrest. We should get rid of all these dumb regulatory laws and other unnecessary laws. My point was that by making a cheap alternative to house arrest, since we have so many laws to catch criminals under, you will see an explosion of arrest. I mean, currently the U.S. only catches about less then 1% of it’s drug users. You would see an explosion of drug users caught, and an overload of our criminal justice system.

    My point about justice is that it can’t be measured in economics or statistical terms. That doesn’t mean that you can’t define it. Justice does need equality, and you still haven’t even tried to refute my argument under this.

    Now, to your point about prison. Yes, prisons aren’t perfect, but obviously the person committed the crime with the thought that the chance of prison wasn’t a big enough detterent. The person that committed his/her wrongful act obviously thought prison wasn’t bad enough not to committ the crime. Therefore prison is a justful solution. @Josh, prison violence is a part of life. Sorry it’s not a hotel. BTW, you contradicted yourself. You said they got all pampered up and stuff, then you said it was a terrible place. Can’t have it both ways bro.

    I do have an alternative to house arrest. How about people take responsiblity for their actions and stop complaining about prison. If people stopped what they were doing and thought about the consequences, we wouldn’t have this problem in the first place.

    Also, quickly the dropped points. I pose the question again, “if these people are no threat to society, we don’t release altogether??” Secondly, you totally ignored my Illinois example. You guys have no advocates for your plan. Why? because none exist (hmm, i wonder why). Also, no examples have been brought up about house arrest working? There’s only been a counterexample.

    That’s it for now, I’m out🙂

  13. I think you guys are forgetting the reasons we have prison in the first place. I’d suggest looking into the background of confinement/prison and get a firm understanding of that before answering the question “Is house arrest an alternative to prison?” Even if house arrest could be used full scale on a federal level we would still need prisons for drug offences, immigration, robbery and violent crimes (like weapons and sexual offences) which, by the way, those four are the offences convicted the most on a federal level.

    Drug offences are 53% of the offences convicted on a federal level. Now the reason drug traffickers can’t be placed on house arrest is simple. House arrest was made so people can continue their jobs and won’t have to go through this “harmful prison” Josh talked about earlier. But if a drug seller’s job is to sell drugs then how can he continue that job under house arrest?

    You might say “well he’ll try to get a new job”. But that’s unreasonable to assume. Because you’ve got to take into account that about 10% of Americans are unemployed and are looking for jobs. Try finding a job with a felony record now, you just committed a FEDERAL OFFENCE and you’re applying for a job, what are the chances of the employer hiring you? Very low!

    Also you make lower recidivism rates sound like such an advantageous thing. But in reality its: Deterrent > Recidivism. With the punishment only being house arrest the criminal isn’t likely to think twice about doing the crime in the first place. Yes, all criminals are risk takers by nature but if the risks become too high they’re more likely not to do the crime. If I was about to do a crime and I knew I would get house arrest I’d be more apt in taking the risk of doing the crime and trying to get away with it, because I wouldn’t have to be in prison which is away from society, I wouldn’t lose my job and my house. So with that being said I wouldn’t be deterred from doing the crime.

    Also about recidivism rates, I do not believe house arrest would lower recidivism for the following reasons.
    1: You just committed a crime, but with no punishment you’re in the world again ready to commit another.
    2: You can easily commit crimes from house arrest. I believe empirically that from 1983-2003 we had over 500 sexual offences and 200+ murders happen while the person was under house arrest.

    The last thing I want to mention about house arrest is that it’s on small scale at the moment. I believe out of two-hundred thousand federal inmates only 2,500 are in house arrest at the moment. With that being said we are not ready to just put every criminal in this house arrest program, because of lack of enforcement on a federal level. Right now it’s very limited and the way we use house arrest currently is just a simple way to finish off your term in prison or until your court trail. If we were to use it more we would need to develop a research-based participant selection tool, enhance the data collection, program oversight and expand training/educational efforts. All those things can’t be done in a day or a year.

    So to bring this back to the question: “Is house arrest an alternative to prison?” For certain offences it can be. But is it ready to be an alternate to prison? The answer is no.

  14. Right, there were all of those things happening, murders etc. but the thing is, we’ve put in 2 safeguards. 1, VICTIMLESS criminals, and 2, we are only taking the top 80% with the most good time credits. Is it an alternative to prison? For CERTAIN offenders yes, completely no. Just as you said Josh, it isn’t a complete alternative. But right now the federal prisons are failing, and we need something for these certain offenders.

  15. Yeah, I see what your trying to say. Do house arrest on a really small scale instead of just dumping like 140,000 people who are CONSIDERED nonviolent on this program. Which is what the feds are doing right now, placing only the people who should be on home confinement, on it, which comes out to be around 2,500. So to make this clear, you/re for what the status quo is doing and John G is against it all together?

  16. BTW Josh, you and Anne are defining who you are putting on house arrest two different ways. She’s saying non-violent crimes and your saying victimless crimes. I made arguments against putting both of those types of people on house arrest, and you still haven’t responded to them.

  17. Also I believe if the criminal is being sent back to court to see if he can qualify for home confinement that would, 1. Overload the system and 2. Violate the Constitution

  18. Also, house arrest currently isn’t considered a punishment, it’s a form of supervised release in most cases.

  19. Yeah, I mentioned that earlier John. Also if anyone thinks its punishment look at Martha Stewart.

  20. Alrighty… my goodness, there are a LOT of points to cover. I’ll try to keep this comment short (even though I know it won’t be short :P)

    I’ll start off with your points, John…

    First of all… you think that House Arrest is not a punishment? Well, it is a punishment. The punishment is having some of your freedoms/liberties stripped away. You aren’t allowed to just go wherever you want… do whatever you want. Let me quote from FAMM “Just because a certain punishment does not involve time in prison or jail does not mean it is “soft on crime” or a “slap on the wrist.” Alternatives to incarceration can repair harms suffered by victims, provide benefits to the community, treat the drug-addicted or mentally ill, and rehabilitate offenders. Alternatives can also reduce prison and jail costs and prevent additional crimes in the future. ” Even though prison may be a “punishment” is prison really doing anything to help the offender once they get out again? If prison doesn’t benefit the prisoner in any way, then what’s the point? When we release them back to the society, usually after a long period of time, they’ve changed… prison changes people… usually for the worse. If House Arrest can help people rehabilitate, repair harms… etc… then why not use it? Also, you pointed out that House Arrest was unconstitutional… you gave the example of Winston v. Lee. Well, that was about surgically implanting… not all house arrest has to be surgically implanted, so, unless you’re surgically implanting… it’s not unconstitutional.

    Secondly…. you disagreed with the whole “House Arrest keeps them accountable to the government” thing. True, we are accountable to God and society… but Romans 13:1 says “Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.” If God has placed these governing authorities in their position, then I think that we should be accountable to them… therefore I see nothing wrong with house arrest keeping people accountable to the government in this case.

    Third point… that we’ll see an explosion of House Arrest. You don’t have evidence supporting that so I’m not even going to address it (just kidding). No, I get what you mean… but then again, what’s wrong with keeping lots of drug users under House arrest? I honestly don’t see a problem.

    Let’s move down to the topic of justice. I believe your original argument under this was that House arrest isn’t serving justice because one person will get to stay in their nice home and the other person will have to stay in a slum, or whatever. Well, that’s their fault. It was their decisions, their choices, that landed them with that house… we can’t do anything about it. Also, the point of house arrest is limitations… freedoms being taken away, boundaries being set… the point isn’t to give someone a nice house to stay in and someone else a small house to stay in.

    You think prison is a deterrent? A deterrent for some crimes, maybe. But again, if prison isn’t bettering some people, then WHO CARES IF IT’S A DETERRENT? If prisons are a deterrent simply because they harm people in some way or change them for a worse, then it’s not really a good deterrent, is it? (let me point out… I’m not saying prison is entirely bad. Prison for certain offenses, should be used, I completely agree). Violence is a part of prison life. Well, true. But it shouldn’t have to be a part of life for the nonviolent offenders… hence another reason for putting them under house arrest.

    I agree with you that if people were to stop and think about what they were doing and consider the consequences… we wouldn’t have these problems. Sadly, we live in a fallen world. You can’t just FORCE people to think about their consequences, it doesn’t work that way.

    Your second to last point… if people aren’t a threat to society, then why not release them altogether? Well, here’s the deal… why release them if we can help them by keeping them under house arrest? Well, they did commit a crime, and, in some cases, that crime shouldn’t be punished by prison, but rather by an alternative, like house arrest (after all, the punishment should fit the crime, should it not?) They aren’t always necessarily a threat to society and keeping them under house arrest for their sentence will keep them that way.

    Lastly, you said that there were no advocates for our plan… and no examples of it working. I do have advocacy… from several different people… and examples of House Arrest working (for example it’s worked well on the state level when tried on nonviolent offenders…)

    Now, on to Josh K’s arguments…🙂

    His first point: We still need prisons. I completely agree.

    As for the issue of drug dealer’s still selling drugs… well… if they have the opportunity to get a DIFFERENT job, don’t you think that would help keep them from selling drugs? Also, what’s the point of putting someone like that in prison? You can’t guarantee that once they get out they won’t start selling drugs again…

    I actually have evidence saying that 92% of employers would considering hiring ex-offenders… there are some businesses that employ people with criminal records… for the reason of helping the person re-build their life.

    Deterrence > recidivism. I don’t know about this one… If it’s actually a deterrent then it should be reducing recidivism…. if that’s so… how is prison a deterrent… the recidivism rate is so high that I find it hard to believe that prison is actually a deterrent since people are just committing crimes over and over…. House Arrest is better because the people have a chance to fix their life… take care of their families… get a job… etc.

    Okay, finally (this comment is longer than I intended it to be :P), let’s go over the advantages of House Arrest….

    1. Reduces overcrowding and therefore violence.

    2. Saves money. This brings me to another point… if someone commits a nonviolent offense… why place them in prison where their care is like… $25,000, if they can just as easily be placed under house arrest? It’s like you’re punishing the taxpayers by making them pay so much for every single prisoner… even nonviolent offenders. House arrest is way cheaper and it saves taxpayer money.

    4. House Arrest is better in general for inmates… quoting again from FAMM on alternatives to prison: “They strengthen families and communities. Prison or jail time separates the offender from his or her spouse and children, sometimes for decades at a time. Alternatives to incarceration keep people with their families, in their neighborhoods and jobs, and allow them to earn money, pay taxes, and contribute to their communities.” Prison doesn’t help any of these things. Maybe it’s a punishment, but the punishment doesn’t always fit the crime… maybe we don’t need harsher punishments… maybe we need punishments that help offenders fix and live better lives… punishments like house arrest.😀

  21. Hold on a second, starting with your first point. You talked about what FAMM said. That has bias written all over it, of course they are going to say that (what else do you expect). The head of FAMM is a woman you had one of her relatives kicked in jail. Secondly, it never explains how alternatives to prison are punishments. It just says it helps the prisoners and lowers jail cost. No where does it talk about how they are punishments. If we are talking about alternatives to prisons in general, maybe we should institute more fines or flogging (seriously)? Also, since when has prison ever suppose to help the offender. Seriously, the person committed a crime. The point of prison is to punish. House Arrest has never suppose to be used as a punishment. It is suppose to be a form of early release.

    Also, on the constitutionality argument. Even non-surgical bracelets might be able to qualify as unconstitutional. Since when has the government ever had permission to track people.

    Now, to the accountablitiy point. The point of this is that the point of government is not for us to be accountable to government. Sure, we should be obedient, but that is not the point of government. The government is not God and the government should not be forcing us to be accountable to them through house arrest. As I said before, either throw them in prison or don’t arrest them and punish them at all.

    To the point of the explosion of people arrested. First off, I know you have researched the criminal justice system and secondly I know that you know a little bit about the government. If you do some research I think you’ll see how my point is valid. Now, you said that you don’t see a problem. Ok, one thing you need to realize is that a lot of Americans have committed non-violent “victimless” crimes. Some people have estimated that every American has committed a crime. Also, some estimates say that 70 million Americans (1/3) have tried drugs (therefore are all felons). Think about that. We would literally be able to allow the government to put our whole nation under house arrest. Almost anyone has committed a felony. I just see that if house arrest was made available as a means of catching prisoners, the government could go after anyone they wanted to. The fact that prisons get overcrowded, keeps the government in check.

    On the justice argument, sure you can say that their choices made them get different sized houses, but their choices should also get them equal punishment. Basically, I see justice as fair equality. This means that the government should give fair and equal sentences. Sentences should not be to high or to low and they should be equal for the same crime. I don’t see the justice when rich ricky gets to stay at home playing poker while being “punished” while poor pete breaks his back going back to his job (which was probably selling drugs in the first place).

    Before I move on, you act as if non-violent crimes are not important. Again, go and read this non-violent crimes (http://www.cga.ct.gov/2010/rpt/2010-R-0157.htm). Are these people we want on house arrest. I say no! Oh, and to Josh’s point about victimless crime, he still hasn’t reponded to my response.

    Ok, so the detterence factor. So, admittedly this is a little utilitarian, but I would say that is the point of the criminal justice system. While people might be harmed by going to prison (instead of house arrest) the reason we do this is to deter people from committing those crimes. The point of our criminal justice system should be giving the maximum amount of good to the majority of people while trying to minimize the amount of people being harmed. House arrest simply is no detterent against committing crimes because it is not a punishment.

    My point about people taking responsibility for their actions goes back to the detterence argument. Obviously they were willing to take the risk, so they should pay the price🙂. There should not be any spilled tears because they were the ones who decided to committ the crime even though they knew the punishment.

    Second to last point. Ok, you make no sense on this. Seriously how would house arrest help them? You said, “why release them if we can help them by keeping them under house arrest?” That’s basically an admission that you don’t have a response (not to be harsh, but true). House arrest doesn’t help people in anyway it just takes away liberties without really doing anything. You said that they should be punished. Let me say again, it is not a punishment. If anything, it’s a form of early release. Which, actually if you look at all forms of house arrest in states, that’s what it is. Also, just because they aren’t a threat doesn’t mean we should put them on house arrest (they need to be punished). Or, maybe the crime is wrong. If these people have not harmed society then why are they punished in the first place. Either the person should be put in prison or released (you still haven’t refuted that directly).

    Advocates? I doubt anyone advocates putting the majority of our non-violent/victimless crime people on house arrest. Second, the state examples are not even close to what you are doing. They are a form of early release, and as I stated before, Illinois program was an epic fail🙂.

  22. John, I’m not going to again respond to all your arguments because I would just be repeating myself… I think that House Arrest really, in our case, comes down to a matter of opinion. Some people (like me) think it’s a good idea, while others (like you) think it’s a bad idea. The main reason I like House Arrest is because the prisoners, instead of having to go to prison, have the chance to go back a job, support their family… etc. etc. And if they break their rules of house arrest, they are usually sent back to prison. I believe that, yes, there should be a punishment for their crime, but the punishment shouldn’t always be prison. If house arrest helps them re-build their lives, then why not use it for some people? I did read your list of nonviolent offenses… and I agree, not all nonviolent offenders should be under house arrest.Your example of Illinois… what were the offenses of these people under house arrest and around what dates was this? (early 2000’s?)

    Okay, as I said… I’m not going to respond to your other arguments… we’re both just pretty set in our opinions… and when that happens it’s almost impossible to convince the other person.😉

  23. John, unconstitutional? really? Because they can be tracked….well, in prison they can be tracked, and monitored etc. WAY more then they can be under house arrest.

  24. Wow, repeating yourself? You never did respond to all my arguments directly. In the end, there really is not any reason for house arrest. As I said before (and this has never been refuted) if you are going to put someone on house arrest, you might as well never have arrested and punished them in the first place. Especially the way your doing it (as the actual punishment) it would not work. The only way house arrest has had any success, is as a early release program. In the end, there is no justification for yours and josh’s idea🙂

  25. By the way, when I was saying its “unconstitional” I was referring to double jeopardy, but cruel and unusual punishment works as well.

    IN USE NOW:
    Also, I still don’t see the point of what you guys are debating about. Josh and Anne are acting like house arrest is not being used on a federal level so the feds need to take action. Within the month of March 15th-29th out of about 93 people being sent to prison, 85 of them were put on home confinement, the statistics show it’s going up.

    JOBS and DRUG USERS ON HOUSE ARREST:
    You forgot about my argument that “House arrest was made so people can continue their jobs”. If the drug seller’s job is to sell drugs then he will continue that job on house arrest. Also, there are no instances where the courts waited for them to find a job then gave the criminal house arrest. Lastly, the 92% of employer’s statistic is vague. It was just a survey on some random employers. I know for a fact that businesses would hire a noncriminal over a criminal. Or else there would be no reason for employer to ask if you have been convicted on the job application. Also you never responded to my point that over 10% of Americans are unemployed and can’t get jobs now.

    DETERENCE > RECIDIVISM:
    I don’t think you understand the difference between the two. If everyone of earth was deterred in the first place from doing the crime then we wouldn’t have to worry about recidivism. Recidivism is the reacquiring of the crime after the prisoner is out of prison. Deterrent is stopping them for doing the crime before they do it in the first place. Like I have been saying, House Arrest isn’t seen as a harsh punishment so people are more likely to do the crime.

    PUNISHMENT:
    House Arrest is not a punishment, like I said earlier, you don’t lose anything. Get to keep job, keep house and see family. You say it’s a punishment because you lose your liberty, but last time I checked every American is slowly losing their liberty every day. Also, I think we would all agree that prison = more of a punishment then house arrest.

    ADVANTAGES:
    1. Advantage turn: House Arrest overcrowding.
    2. If you want to save money get rid of prison or reduce prison benefits or do chain gangs.
    3. Also who cares if it’s better for inmates? Seems to me like you just want the criminal too benefit for committing crime.

    RECIDIVISM:
    Also any evidence about lower recidivism rates is referring to once they have completed house arrest. Last time I checked 50% of convicts on house arrest get kicked off in the first year. Plus the recidivism statistics are not taking into account the crimes committed while the criminal was on house arrest. Lastly, you didn’t respond to my point that they have just committed the crime and now they’re on the streets ready to commit another. Look at the examples of drug addicts, they’re ADDICTS!

    Also you will probable respond to my point on this by saying “these ankle bracelets will tell us if they’re doing drugs.” But that’s irrelevant. The ankle bracelets only tell the police/whoever is watching them once they have already recommitted the crime. Lastly, the ankle bracelet can’t alert the police for drug usage unless it’s surgically placed.

  26. One issue I see is that it’s going to cause a states-federal disparity in sentencing. Right now, the states are dealing with a portion of drug criminals. If a state drug crime is committed, the violator will be prosecuted by the state and placed in a state prison. But- if a state drug crime is committed in between two states (for instance, drug trafficking across state borders), the violator will be prosecuted by the feds, since he can’t be punished by both states. If the federal punishment for a first time nonviolent drug distribution offense was house arrest, a violator who crosses a state border over the course of his offense will get house arrest, but a violator who committed the same crime in one state may spend a much longer time in prison.

  27. The American justice system is and has been out of control. Prison is big business and big profits. When a society spends so much time and legislation in order to devise ways to lock up it’s fellow citizens, it has lost the moral high ground. Mandatory parole, locking up addicts for merely getting high, non-violent offenders getting exorbitant sentences. It is all Justice For Profit and the State has no legitimacy in this issue. A complete and total overhaul is necessary to legitimize the system.

  28. Hey John, do you know where I can find some support for that argument? Talking about house arrest not being considered a punishment?

  29. Carol, Have you been able to get this idea started? God bless you for such a wonderful idea! My son was recently put on house arrest. He did not kill or harm anyone. He is a good person but he just made a bad decision. My husband is so mad that he has kicked him out. He will be homeless if I can’t find him some place to live. Please reply and let me know if you have a place or know of a place. Thank-you, D.

  30. I’m sorry to say no, I know how hard it is and how it can rip a family apart. I wish I knew of a place that could help. I wrote a few letters to try and get some help from my state and they just seem to pass you to one person to another. You might try and talk to the probation department and see what they can do or get you in the right direction. They are there to help even if the person on probation doesn’t think so. So if they know your story in detail I’m sure they will help. I’m sorry I can’t help you with a place for your son. I know how hard it’s going to be when my son gets out of prison if i don’t have a safe place for him to come home to. So I have little over to years to move and get settled out in the country somewhere. Town living is no good for people who have been in trouble and can fall right back in it if they feel that they have no other choice. I wish you the best,take care.
    Carol

  31. hi carol, my name is laketa i’m trying to get my fiance on house arrest instead of him going to prison,will u please help me get him on house arrest?

  32. this sounds like a awesome idea but the problem with it is that the state pays so much per person in jail/prison and there are judges and other clergy that are getting kick backs for putting people in jail or prison.and that is why it will not work. our government is corrupt and greed is what is running our government and that has to be fixed first or we will just be spinning our wheels and going no where.i dont know anything about politics, but if there is anything i could do to help i would.we need to make a billl ,send it through congress and then vote on it or something like that. anybody know how to do that. if there is anything i can do to help please contact me erektheman@gmail.com thanks.

  33. Is there early release for good behavior if you on house arrest. Question 2. If you have a house arrest band on your leg for 2 months in not been monitor can you get credit for those month

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