The Douglas County Commmission today gave the go-ahead to expand the use of electronic monitoring and house arrest as a way to keep more offenders out of jail.
By a 3-0 vote, commissioners approved allowing the community corrections department to use electronic monitoring and house arrest for misdemeanor offenders, such as DUI offenders, who are not handled in existing community corrections programs.
Through electronic monitoring, offenders are confined to their homes and checked on through the use of a camera. The electronic monitoring is currently used for some offenders in the community corrections program who also are a part of the intensive supervised probation program.
Community corrections director Mark Matese said six to eight misdemeanor offenders, all selected by the court, would be checked through electronic monitoring this year. If the use of electronic monitoring is approved by the court, those offenders would be kept out of the overcrowded county jail.
In electronic monitoring, offenders are called periodically during the day and night by Telemonitoring Systems of Kansas, which is based in LaCrosse. When called, offenders must look into a small camera that is part of a portable television device in their homes.
The camera transmits an image of the offender to the company. The company also asks the offenders personal questions such as their mother's maiden name, which verifies that the picture transmitted is that of the offender.
The county leases the equipment from the company and is billed only when used. Cost per offender runs from $5 to $7 a week, depending on the number of calls placed to the offender. Matese said he budgeted $5,750 next year for electronic monitoring and house arrest.
IN OTHER business, commissioners:
Approved the purchase of a 1992 Ford Explorer XLT for $18,996 from Bob Allen Ford in Overland Park. The vehicle will be used for the patrol of Clinton Lake.
Approved a drug grant application for $141,093 from the state. The county will contribute $35,272, or one-fourth of the final amount approved by the state.
Approved a Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) grant application for $54,430 from the state. The county will contribute $13,607, or one-fourth of the final amount approved by the state.
Approved the following consent agenda items: commission orders and a resolution amending the zoning regulations for the unincorporated territory of the county about restricting use of mobile homes to rural residents.