GPS Tethers On Inmates Could Save Taxpayers Money

By: Lauren Zakalik Email
By: Lauren Zakalik Email

Right now, the Ingham County Jail is bursting at the seams.

Dozens over the 665-inmate capacity, they're about to release some people early.

"We're in day eight of overcrowding," says Ingham County Sheriff Gene Wriggelsworth. "As a whole, overcrowding costs taxpayers incrementally more than a system that doesn't have overcrowding... It takes a strain on the system. More people need food, beds, transportation..."

Wriggelsworth says each inmate costs taxpayers hundreds of dollars a day; a burgeoning burden, especially in these times.

"It's expensive," he says. "It's an expensive business to run a jail."

But what the Sheriff is calling the department's saving grace? GPS tethers.

Wriggelsworth plans to strap tethers on certain inmates, like those awaiting trial for child support cases or disorderly conduct. The tether will electronically track them 24-7. If they violate their terms, the sheriff's office is contacted right away.

But for Wriggelsworth, best of all, they won't be in jail, sucking up taxpayer funds. Essentially, those people who are forced to sit in jail because of court orders-- who may not be a threat to society-- can now go live on their own, wearing the tether.

"Say we have 50 people on tether. That's 50 people less we'll have to transport, take to the doctor," Wriggelsworth says. "It should lighten our load."

The best part about this GPS tether is that it doesn't cost taxpayers anything; it's the inmates who are fronting the cash for the electronic effort.

"It's $10 a day for the inmates to be on it. The beauty of it is the inmates pay the costs. It's a huge taxpayer savings," he says.

An unknown savings for now, but the Sheriff says worth a try.

Sentinel Offender Services will be providing the tethers and working out of an office at the Sheriff's office. Rod Hinds, a representative of the company, says more than 200 law enforcement agencies use the tethers as a good way to deal with jail overcrowding.


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