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Ohio Limits Electronic Monitoring to Only Those Who Can Pay

If you’re convicted in Ohio and can afford to pay, you may be able to obtain release on electronic monitoring. If not, you can serve your time in the Corrections Center of Northwest Ohio (CCNO). That is the new policy adopted by CCNO to deal with a projected $200,000 budget shortfall.

“We formalized that we need only paying customers to get through this financial crisis,” said Jim Dennis, CCNO’s ex-ecutive director. “The judges cooperated with us and started giving us people that could pay, which severely limited the debt we were going to have.”

The electronic monitoring program allows people convicted of misdemeanors and minor felonies to work while they serve their sentences. The program had 1,203 participants enrolled in 2008. The problem cited by CCNO is that about one-quarter of those persons were unable to pay the $10 per day cost for electronic monitoring or the $15.50 per day cost for GPS monitoring.

The program has a 2009 budget of $460,000, of which $228,000 is from state grants and $232,000 is pro-jected to be paid by the participants. That budget is predicated on a monthly average of 100 to 120 people en-rolled in the program. Currently 87 people are in the electronic monitoring program, and of those only three are unable to pay.

With fewer people in the program than expected, the revenue will be less. “We realize that this clientele is traditionally in dire economic straits,” said Dennis. “We need to increase the numbers of paying customers to be able to make budget.”

Aside from the obvious injustice of only allowing those who can afford to pay to participate in the release pro-gram, the decision to incarcerate people who can’t pay, at a cost of about $70 per day, makes no fiscal sense in light of the much lower cost of electronic monitoring.

Source: Toledo Blade

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