At least one elected official in Riverside is reported to believe his proposal to release persons convicted of alcohol related crimes via DUI monitoring devices could help free up bed space in the county jail.
Not everyone would be eligible for this type of early release program, he said. Instead, it would be limited to those convicted of driving while under the influence or other unlawful alcohol related incidents. His proposal is reported to include measures which require anyone released be outfitted with an alcohol monitoring or GPS tracking device which would allow members of the Riverside Sheriff’s Department to determine whether the individual was staying sober. It would also track whether they were at home or at work.
The County Board of Supervisors say approximately 374 DUI offenders were released early using these types of devices in 2011. They also note that the program has expanded in 2012, with about 420 offenders being released in the same manner. They believe the program could be tripled in size.
The Sheriff’s Department said they are pleased with his initiative. Releasing certain inmates through this type of program, they said, will help offset ongoing overcrowded conditions within Riverside jails. Overcrowding has long been a problem and was compounded in late 2011 after the State Assembly voted to pass a measure which mandated the state transfer certain prisoners to county jails to serve out the remainder of their sentences.
It is estimated the cost to outfit alcohol offenders with the GPS device will come at a cost of $13.50 to $25.50 per day depending on the type of device used. This is a marked savings over incarceration, they said.
A vote on whether to expand the program has not yet taken place.