Walworth Co. to move inmates to electronic monitoring

WALWORTH -- It's a plan to save millions of dollars in Walworth County, and prevent overcrowding in prisons, but it's being met with controversy because it allows inmates to do their time at home. The County says even with this new plan, public safety will be maintained.

Officials in Walworth County say it costs $65 a day to house an inmate, and that includes three meals a day, and free electricity. "Incarceration is expensive!" Walworth County Sheriff David Graves said. Graves says overcrowding has been an issue in recent years. "We can't wait until we get to 509. If you're at 405, you don't know what's going to happen," Graves said.

To solve overcrowding, as well as maintain the County budget, the Walworth County Sheriff's Department came up with a solution they already use in their work release, or Huber program. The County is in the process of expanding their electronic monitoring for inmates who meet certain standards. "It's not the hardened criminal. It's the people who we deem not that much of a risk to the public. We know where they are constantly, every moment of the day, and we can bring up a computer screen and track them as a red dot on the screen," Graves said.

With this solution, inmates can maintain their employment and live at home, all while wearing an electronic monitoring bracelet. "Eating their own food, burning their own electricity, using their own utilities, instead of the taxpayers'," Graves said.

These electronic monitoring inmates are subject to GPS monitoring as well as daily drug and alcohol tests. "If you violate a privilege, like anything else, there are consequences," Graves said.

Officials say this program is designed to rehabilitate inmates, so they don't end up back behind bars. "You can be home, maintain a life, support your children, and still acclimate yourself back into society," Graves said.

Officials say as a result of this program, 10 positions will be cut at the jail. Graves says the County hopes to do that by attrition, but says they may have to lay off employees if they're not successful.