VOL. 17 ISSUE NO. 50   |  DECEMBER 14 – 20, 2011


Carefree embraces home detention program in lieu of jail

‘I think we have a winner here’

CAREFREE – As the state legislature passes laws increasing the mandatory minimum jail sentences for DUIs, which, for first offense extreme DUIs can be as many as 45 days, it has also come up with a novel way to allow some defendants to sidestep that harsher punishment, at least in part.

A.R.S. 11-251.15, which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2012, provides for continuous alcohol monitoring and home detention for some persons sentenced for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

The law allows counties to “establish a home detention program for eligible sentenced prisoners, which shall be treated as confinement in jail.”

judge kc scullDuring the Dec. 6 council meeting Carefree Administrator Gary Neiss told council home detention could save the town some money and said many other municipalities have adopted such programs as he turned the floor over to Carefree Municipal Judge K.C. Scull (l) to explain.

Scull said home detention was relatively new and said Town Prosecutor Tom Parascandola would vet candidates for the program.

Because most people don’t want to stay in jail, they would probably not mind paying the cost of the program.

According to Scull, the town must pay the county for jail costs. While the fines charged defendants include jail costs, if the defendant doesn’t pay the town, the town must still pay Maricopa County.

The defendants who agree to participate in the program would have to pay Correctional Health Services, which administers the program, in advance for each week they are in the program.

The program, which is less expensive than jail, would require defendants to spend the first 15 days in jail, then, if deemed eligible for the program, they may spend the remaining 15 to 30 days under home detention or partial home detention.

The home detention/electronic monitoring program requires GPS monitoring, alcohol testing and the completion of an alcohol screening program.

With an “upswing” in DUI arrests, Scull said there’s also been a problem collecting jail costs from defendants.

Scull said the home detention program could conceivably save the town somewhere around $12,000 if just 10 people per year were eligible and opted to utilize the program.

Parascandola said he agreed with Scull that the program would be a benefit to the town and affirmed what Neiss said about most municipalities having already adopted the program.

He said, “Obviously every defendant is going to want house arrest,” rather than to serve 30 to 45 days in Tent City.

tom parascandolaAccording to Parascandola (l), it’s a better program than jail because it includes continuous GPS and alcohol monitoring, whereas the work-release program from jail simply releases the defendant for 12 hours per day without any monitoring as to whether a person is at work or at the bar. However, the defendant would still be required to spend the first 15 days in jail.

If defendants fail to pay for monitoring at any point during their home detention, they would be sent back to court and, according to Scull, sentenced to jail.

Parascandola said the legislature is looking at allowing house arrest after the first day of shorter sentences.

Representatives from Correction Health Services were also on hand and told council the judge and prosecutor “explained everything perfectly.”

Mayor David Schwan said, “I think we have a winner here.”

Councilman Glenn Miller’s motion to approve the resolution authorizing the home detention/electronic monitoring program for Carefree Municipal Court passed unanimously.