Monitors could save some from time in jail

By Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A new misdemeanor ankle bracelet program could help lower the police department’s costs and the Lee County jail population.
People arrested on certain misdemeanor warrants in Tupelo will have the option to go to jail or go home, thanks to the electronic monitoring device. The new ankle bracelets were implemented last week, just in time for the weekend.
Police Chief Tony Carleton said police arrest dozens of people on the weekends on misdemeanor contempt of court warrants, causing inconveniences to the city, county and the person being arrested. But now he is hoping people arrested on these kinds of charges don’t want jail time.
“If a person goes to jail on a Thursday on a misdemeanor warrant then that person has to wait until Monday to see a judge to get a bond set or pay the fine,” said Carleton. “Now, you have a person with a speeding ticket spending the weekend in jail and we have to pay $25 a day to keep them there. If they opt for the monitoring device then they go home, we save money, and the county doesn’t fill up with these types of inmates.”
People who are arrested on nonviolent misdemeanor charges will have the option to wear a monitor on their ankle until their court date.
No one has opted to wear the bracelets as of Wednesday.
People who have warrants for crimes such as DUI, domestic violence and assault will not be eligible for the program.
The monitor will be tracked by GPS and if the person fails to make the court appearance, that person will be arrested. And because the person arrested has to pay the $10 a day to wear the device, Carleton said the program pays for itself.
Municipal Court Director Larry Montgomery said the monitors are a win-win situation for everyone involved.
“There is no judge on the bench on Fridays, so if you go to jail Thursday after hours for no insurance, you are there until you see a judge on Monday,” said Montgomery. “Now it’s going to cost the city $125 and may cost you your job for missing two days of work. No one is benefiting that way. The monitor puts a sense of urgency in the person and lets them know there is something they have to take care of. If they don’t, then police will be picking them up.”
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said the program can definitely help lower the jail population if implemented correctly. Johnson said more than half the jail population comes from Tupelo arrests.
The program is a six-month pilot program. After the six months its effectiveness will be reviewed before the city decides whether to extend it.

Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or danza.johnson@djournal.com.