Tennessee Funds Electronic Monitoring In lieu of Jail Time

State Creates Electronic Monitoring Indigency Fund

Tennessee General Assembly House Bill 950 amends the “electronic monitoring indigency fund” established in 2016.  The fund is to be used for either:

  • “The eligible costs associated with the lease, purchase, installation, removal, and maintenance of ignition interlock devices or with any other cost or fee associated with a functioning ignition interlock device required by this part for persons determined by the court to be indigent; and
  • The eligible costs associated with the use of a transdermal monitoring device, other alternative alcohol or drug monitoring device or global positioning monitoring device, if required by the court… for persons determined by the court to be indigent.”

The fund allows for up to $200 to be expended to pay the costs associated with an indigent person’s ignition interlock device or other monitoring device.

The hope is to reduce overcrowding in the jail system and to assist indigent people with their release.  In order to qualify for assistance a person must submit a claim electronically to the state treasurer’s office within ninety (90) days.  The treasurer requires a person to submit:

  • A court order mandating ignition interlock installation or an alcohol monitoring device
  • An affidavit of indigency
  • An attestation for the provider asserting that the claims are true and accurate

The act took effect on July 1, 2019.

Electronic monitoring and ignition interlock installation has been used by courts across the nation to help deter drunk driving recidivism.  Many programs have seen a notable decrease in the number of repeat drunk driving offenders when they are under continuous alcohol monitoring and receive immediate sanction for non-compliance.