For some, alternative jail sentences are a mystery. Alternative jail sentences such as house arrest are discussed fleetingly when celebrities like Paris Hilton are sentenced. Back in 2007, she was sentenced to house arrest because of a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction in California. She had to serve 45 days in a detention facility but served the rest of her time at home wearing a house arrest ankle bracelet.

What Is House Arrest in the Criminal Justice System?

House arrest is an alternative to jail time or spending time in jail while awaiting trial. A person does not spend time in jail, but at home. The ideal of house arrest is that a person is still being punished for wrongdoing because they can’t leave their home. In other words, they still lose their freedom.

Throughout the United States, house arrest is used to decrease the number of people in facilities while they are awaiting sentencing or serving their sentence. In theory, house arrest means that the person can’t leave their home under any circumstances. If they are supposed to spend 45 days at home, they can’t leave to go outside.

Sometimes a person will be sentenced to house arrest, but is allowed to leave home. For example, they are allowed to go to work, take their children to school or attend religious events. The criminal justice system knows where the person is always because they are wearing an ankle monitor.

House Arrest Ankle Devices that are Used

Ankle bracelets monitoring is used to keep track for everyone under house arrest. This bracelet is electronic and fits securely around the ankle. The bracelet is placed on the person’s ankle by a correction official and is connected to a traditional telephone line. Reports of the person’s whereabouts are sent via the phone.

The corrections official doesn’t always monitor the person. Instead, jurisdiction usually has a third-party contractor monitor each person under house arrest. It depends on the jurisdiction. The monitor is strong, waterproof and sturdy. The person under house arrest can’t remove the device. If anyone tries to tamper with it or remove it, the monitoring agency will be immediately notified. Another reason why the monitoring agency is notified is if the person is more than 3,000 feet out of range of the monitoring unit.

The base unit the bracelet is connected to via the landline telephone will sound a loud alarm. That’s when the monitoring agency is notified. If this happens, the person is considered a fugitive. This means they are fleeing from the law. Other types of ankle bracelets use Global Positioning System (GPS) technology. This requires the person to carry a mobile phone with them at all times because the ankle bracelet is connected to the mobile phone.

A Person May Pay to be on House Arrest

House arrest is often a cheaper alternative to housing a person in county jail. That doesn’t mean the court won’t share the cost of this alternative sentencing with the person. The person may be ordered to pay for the entire cost or part of the cost of their house arrest electric bracelet.

The payments may be required once a week or once a month. The total amount a person will pay is told upfront. Also, the payments will go towards their monitoring bracket and monitoring agency used.

No Time Served for Good Behavior

In jail, many people are let out early for good behavior. This means they did everything right such as not fighting while incarcerated and can go home before their sentence ends. Time served for good behavior is often an incentive for people to follow the rules, so they can go home.

With house arrest, jailers aren’t able to see a person is on good behavior. This means the person completes their entire sentence. There’s no reduction for any good behavior. Depending on the person, this may be considered a disadvantage to fighting for house arrest instead of jail time.

Jail Time Is Possible if Rules are Broken

It is important to note that if at any time a person violates the rules of their house arrest, they can go to jail. This means they serve the rest of their sentence in county lockup instead of home. House rules vary according to jurisdiction. However, they are told to the individual prior to go under house arrest. Thus, after people find out how house arrest works, they should follow all rules and regulations to remain out of county jail.