Source: Lake Geneva Regional News

County will seek grant to expand monitoring

by Chris Schultz

February 17, 2011

Elkhorn — Walworth County officials will apply for a $100,000 grant through the state Office of Judicial Assistance to pay for an expanded jail inmate electronic monitoring program using sophisticated electronic ankle bracelets, similar to one now being used in Rock County.

The Walworth County Board’s Executive Committee voted Monday morning to direct County Administrator David Bretl to prepare the application.

Program grant-worthy

Walworth County Sheriff David Graves mentioned the electronic monitoring program as a possible grant-worthy project.

He said he and Undersheriff Kurt Picknell spent time watching the Rock County Sheriff’s Department’s monitoring system at work.

Bretl said he wasn’t making any promises about the grant money.

The county was notified about the grant procedure late, and the application must be submitted to the state by March 3.

Walworth and Rock counties started their monitoring programs in 2007. Rock County has gone with the program in a big way.

The Walworth County Sheriff’s Department has an electronic monitoring system, but it’s not as ambitious as the Rock County program, Graves said.

The number of inmates in the Walworth County program varies from 10 to 30, said Jim Henriott, electronic monitoring coordinator for the Walworth County Correctional Center.

Right now there are 10 on the program, with another eight to 10 waiting to join, he said.

That does not include the convicted drunken drivers in the county’s Commitment Accountability Treatment Evaluation (CATE) program.

Rock County program

As of Monday there were 69 Rock County inmates on electronic monitoring, Rock County Sheriff Robert Spoden said.

Those numbers change daily. There have been up to 110 on the system at one time, he said.

The Rock County program applies to those who are sentenced in Rock County Circuit Court.

The inmates are screened by the sheriff’s department to determine if they are suitable for the program, Spoden said.

Among those excluded are offenders with felony drug, sex or child abuse charges, he said.

Rock County Sheriff’s Commander Erik Chellevold said the Rock County department went to other jurisdictions with similar programs to see how they were run.

Screening done

Using that information, the Rock County Sheriff’s Department developed a screening checklist to select those who qualify for the program and weed out those who do not.

Using a GPS system in the ankle bracelets, correctional officers can monitor an offender’s location by computer.

A detector in the bracelet can also determine whether the offender was drinking, Spoden said.

Using the bracelets, correctional officers can create “hot” zones to keep an offender away from forbidden locations, such as a victim’s home or taverns.

They can also monitor to make sure the offender is at home or work during certain times of the day.

If the offender enters a “hot” zone, the sheriff’s office is alerted and a call can be made to the offender or a deputy sent to bring the person in, Chellevold said.

Random checks made

Deputies often make random checks on offenders, which can be made at any hour of the day, Spoden said.

Spoden said all of the offenders in the electronic monitoring program would have been in the county’s Huber program.

Spoden said electronic monitoring is cheaper than housing Huber inmates.

Spoden said it costs about $64 a day to house an inmate in Huber, while it costs just $9 a day to keep an offender on a bracelet.

Most of the work required by the monitoring program is done by correctional officers, Spoden said.

He said the program required adding one clerical employee and a deputy.

He said offenders are billed $16 daily to be on the program.

Spoden said the program has saved an estimated $1.9 million over the past three years.