Bracelets to replace jail time for some

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – People arrested for small crimes soon will be able to choose a night in jail or electronic monitoring.
The option is part of a plan to save the city as much as $25,000 a month.
Starting Aug. 1, the Police Department will partner with Tupelo-based Secure Alert to offer electronic-monitoring ankle bracelets to people arrested for nonviolent misdemeanors, said Police Chief Tony Carleton.
Carleton and Municipal Court Administrator Larry Montgomery presented the plan before the City Council during a Tuesday work session at City Hall.
If arrestees choose the bracelets, they go home but are tracked through the device’s built-in GPS.
GPS stands for Global Positioning System, which can track a person’s movement and exact location. Police officers can restrict a person’s allowed movement to a one-block area or expand it to several counties.
If a person exits the area, the bracelet vibrates and alerts authorities.
It benefits the person because he or she can continue to work and support a family, and it benefits the city because it’s cheaper than jail, Montgomery said.
The device costs $10 per day versus the $25 per day jail fee incurred by the city. Tupelo sends hundreds of people to the Lee County jail each month, racking up as much as $600,000 to $700,000 in fees annually.
It can recoup some of its jail expenses by tacking the state-allowed $10 onto each inmate’s court costs, but Tupelo still must pay the remaining $15 per person, per day.
With ankle bracelets, however, the city still can charge $10 but have no lingering costs to reimburse. Secure Alert receives then gets the money in exchange for supplying the bracelets and doing the monitoring.
“I think it’s a no-brainer,” said Ward 1 Councilman Markel Whittington.
Other council members also said they support the plan, which does not require council approval because the state already allows for it.
Carleton said his staff has been trained on how to use the bracelets and in which cases to offer them. He set Aug. 1 as the anticipated start date.
Contact Emily Le Coz at (662) 678-1588 or emily.lecoz@djournal.com.