According to a recent article in the Austin Monitor, the jails in Travis County are a little less crowded than they had been just a few years ago. Policies aimed at easing overcrowding have been successful in the Texas county. One mission was to establish a comprehensive Pretrial Services department which would not only release low-level offenders on their own recognizance but would also allow for release with electronic monitoring.
Travis County allows three types of monitoring according to the report. Pretrial Services may require GPS monitoring allowing for law enforcement to monitor a defendant’s whereabouts 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, house arrest monitoring which monitors whether a defendant is complying with house arrest requirements set by a judge, probation or law enforcement and SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring. The SCRAM device is an ankle bracelet that detects alcohol consumption through the sweat that is naturally excreted by a person.
There has been a significant increase in the number of offenders that opt for electronic monitoring services. Defendants are asked to pay for GPS and SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring Devices but can submit a waiver if they are indigent.
Over 1600 jurisdictions across the country utilize electronic monitoring and SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring devices. The devices are used as a condition for release from jail, for pretrial monitoring and as a condition of release post-conviction. Courts and law enforcement throughout the United States have seen a significant cost savings as jailing defendants pretrial can be expensive.