Tucson, Pima County explore inmate GPS monitoring to keep jail costs down
PIMA COUNTY - The city of Tucson and Pima County are both exploring new programs to keep people out of jail.
Tucson's newest proposal is up for discussion at tomorrow's city council meeting. The county's initiative is set to go live in a couple of weeks. Both expand the use of GPS monitored ankle bracelets.
On any given day, the Pima County Detention Center only has between 250 and 500 open beds. To grow that number, it's getting ready to put ankle bracelets on some of its lowest security inmates.
Between chores, Abby Gomez and nine more female inmates working at the Pima Animal Care Center, are also sending data via their ankle monitoring devices back to the Pima County Detention Center.
“It's a little uncomfortable but I like it I guess," said Gomez.
Gomez is part of a trial run to get the equipment on about 33 nonviolent offenders at all times, nearly 400 a year.
The program would allow them to serve the rest of their sentence at home, saving the county $57,000 a month.
"It decreases the amount of people that are here unnecessarily, or could be at home, so we open those bed spaces for the offenders that need to be here, that shouldn't be out in the community, it also decreases the amount that is costs the county. Money in housing them," said Corrections Lt. Elsa Navarro.
The program would keep close tabs on inmates like Gomez, monitoring their every move.
"It gives us an alarm saying she's out of the zone, she's in violation, where it happened, what speed she's traveling, and in what direction," said Navarro.
For those only recently arrested, defendants who cannot afford to post bond often sit in jail until their next hearing, sometimes up to ten days. Each one takes up even more cell space and taxpayer money.
A new proposal going through Tucson City Council could send nonviolent offenders home too, with a similar GPS ankle bracelet while they wait for their next court appearance.
"For people who have kids, I think that would be perfect for them, just because their kids might need them at home," said Gomez.
That program being considered by the city of Tucson is already being used in Mesa. There, it saves the city nearly one thousand dollars for every person it's used on.