San Francisco’s electronic monitoring of lawbreakers released into the community is expected to increase as hundreds of state inmates transfer to the county’s justice system beginning this fall.
The Sheriff’s Department has for years used electronic monitoring devices to supervise offenders put into the community while serving out a sentence. Currently, an average 100 criminals a day are on electronic monitoring devices worn around their ankles in The City, according to Assistant Sheriff Michael Marcum. But that is expected to increase.
Beginning Oct. 1, The City will begin taking over supervision of 646 criminal offenders from the state prison system under a state program known as public safety realignment. It is projected 225 will actually end up in County Jail, while 421 will be in the community under some form of supervision, which could include electronic monitoring.
The devices are equipped with global positioning technology, which can be monitored by sheriff’s deputies. The devices can also alert authorities if the wearer has consumed alcohol.
Those who go on electronic monitoring are nonviolent offenders.
“These are inmates we deem we can safely supervise while doing a jail sentence while in the community,” Marcum said.
Marcum said most of the offenders the department releases stay out of trouble the entire time.
“Only 9 percent of people actually fail,” he said.
With realignment, it remains unclear how many more criminals will be in the community wearing such devices. Under the state’s realignment law, the sheriff will be able to allow inmates in custody awaiting trial out of jail in lieu of bail with the requirement that they wear an ankle bracelet before they get their day in court, according to Adult Probation Chief Wendy Still. Adult probation also will have the power to require home detention or electronic monitoring if offenders violate their supervision conditions instead of being forced back into jail. Electronic monitoring is cheaper for The City. It costs $20 per day, while it costs $120 a day for someone occupying a jail bed, Marcum said.
On Wednesday, the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee approved the state-required realignment plan on how The City plans to deal with the influx of inmates and how it will spend $5.7 million the state is providing as part of realignment. That includes spending $860,789 on a Community Assessment and Service Center for probationers to attend for services and drug testing, and funding for 31 new positions, including 27 new probation officers.
The City has already allocated $4.7 million to fund jail costs, and $700,000 to pay for an increase in electronic monitoring of inmates.
Source: Budget analyst Harvey Rose