In the mid 1980’s, the State of West Virginia, under the direction of the State Supreme Court of Appeals, implemented the Home Incarceration Act, also known as the Home Confinement Program. This legislation was written by lawmakers from Kanawha County. In its infancy, the program throughout the State was monitored from Kanawha County’s 13th Judicial Circuit. In 1995, Kanawha County implemented its own program under the direction of the Sheriff. It is now the largest in West Virginia. It is staffed with a Chief, six full-time officers, an office manager, and supervising an average of 225 clients.
The concept of home confinement is to provide offenders the opportunity and privilege of living at home in a strictly monitored environment in lieu of being incarcerated for their offenses. This gives clients the opportunity to work, be with their families, and become productive members of society. They are able to contribute to the economy and unburden taxpayers of the enormous cost of jailing them. They must also pay a fee to be on the program. Although the fee does not fully fund the program, it does defray some costs of its operation.
All Kanawha County Home Confinement officers are trained in house with the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office. Each officer comes from a background in law enforcement or corrections, and exceed training standards established by the state of West Virginia.
Home Confinement officers routinely conduct unannounced visits with clients looking for any unacceptable behavior that violates court orders. This includes drug and alcohol use, associating with disreputable people, or curfew violations. Random drug screenings are conducted, with positive screenings often resulting in expulsion from the program and direct incarceration in South Central Regional Jail.
A variety of devices and methods are used to monitor compliance with court orders and the rules of Home Confinement’s program. Field test kits for drugs, breathalyzers to detect alcohol use, and GPS ankle bracelets help keep track of the whereabouts and activities of those on the program. The GPS monitoring server allows for an unlimited number of clients. The devices show in real time the exact location of an inmate. Alerts from the devices are routinely directed to a supervising Home Confinement officer. They also report attempts to tamper with the equipment.
Although judges and magistrates tend to remember the clients who violate the terms of their home confinement, we must also remember the many success stories of those who get and keep jobs, complete their drug or alcohol rehabilitation, and complete education programs and obtain degrees, while not reoffending. These are the people who learn to manage their time and monies, and become more disciplined in life. For those who want to get out of the judicial system and move on with their lives, home confinement opens doors to opportunities for success.
Home Confinement Program Rules can be viewed by click the link below.