Jail

The Madison County Detention Center.

As of Aug. 1, 40 people are enrolled in the home incarceration program (HIC), which according to Madison County Jailer Steve Tussey, saves the county jail around $1,000 a day.

Tussey said the goal of the program is two fold, one, that it gives the court system another alternative to sending people to jail. It includes attaching an ankle monitor to a person and keeping track of the court order boundaries that are set per case.

"The HIC programs offer an alternative to keep those people in the family zone and not remove them from work or their family and makes re-entry back to home a little easier," he said.

On the "other side of the fence," if those 40 people weren't participating in HIC, Tussey said, about 80 to 90% would return back to the continuously overpopulated jail. The program helps reduce the number of inmates housed there, he explained.

Cases in which people are chosen to participate in the program is "all over the board," Tussey stated, and is entirely dependent on the judge and the condition of bond, also determined by the judge.

"Instead of putting a lot of money on someone's bond, judges can order them to HIC instead," the jailer said.

Also at the discretion of the judge, and done on a case-by-case basis, is whether a person in the program can travel to and from work, and sets the boundaries and conditions.

"If they are holding down a job and supporting a family, kids and so on, generally (judges) don't want to take them away from a job or family," he said.

The jail, which assumed control of the program from the county attorney's office around two months ago, is responsible for staffing caseworkers, who, on average, manage 25 to 30 HIC participants each.

Currently, Tussey has two people responsible for the 40 people in HIC, but that management is a group effort, splitting different duties like administration and bookkeeping throughout other employees at the jail.

A majority of the case workers' duties include monitoring the GPS tracker at the jail and keeping track of alerts if an inmate were to step out of their court-ordered limits, which Tussey reported has happened in a couple of instances.

"Sure, you bet," he said when asked if such incidents occurred. "They are just people, and occasionally, we have had two or three that have failed and gone back to jail. It has happened and may continue to happen, but it hasn't occurred frequently, not much."

The jailer hopes to add another case worker to the staff and said the jail is crunching numbers now to try and hire someone soon to increase the amount of people allowed to participate.

With 40 enrolled in HIC, Tussey said, it saves the jail around $1,000 a day as housing inmates costs on average about $25 to $30 a day per inmate. Typically the jail houses more than 350 inmates in its 184 bed facility.

For those who get the chance to participate, there is a fee associated.

Tussey explained that for those who the court deems indigent, or suffering from extreme poverty, there is no maintenance fee to hook up the bracelet monitor, but there is a $4 daily maintenance fee and weekly drug test fee of $25.

For those who are not deemed indigent by courts, there is a hookup charge of $50, with a $10 daily maintenance charge, as well as a minimum once-a-week drug test for $25.

"With the fees we are charging, we are pretty much breaking even with the cost to the jail that it takes to operate HIC," he said. "The more people we put on HIC, the bigger opportunity we have to generate some revenue."

Tussey stated the jail only pays for the staffing of those who help operate the program, but essentially the program pays for itself and is self sufficient.

In terms of recidivism, or the tendency of a convicted criminal to be booked into the jail again, Tussey said the program helps "a little bit."

Right now, the jail has a recidivism rate of 80%. Tussey explained that if he released 10 inmates, eight would most likely be charged with a new crime.

"It's a sad number, it's horrendous," he said.

Reach Taylor Six at 624-6623 or follow her on Twitter @TaylorSixRR.

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