A program that Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca championed three years ago to reduce the early release of jail inmates by placing as many as 2,000 additional offenders on electronic monitoring at home has failed to make a significant dent in the problem, reports the Los Angeles Times. When he announced the initiative in 2007 and prodded the state to allow it, Baca touted it as a major step that would free jail space and allow the department to keep more-serious offenders behind bars longer.
Officials concede the plan was based on a misunderstanding of the jail population. That doomed it from the outset. Last week, only 135 inmates were involuntarily serving sentences at home, where they wear electronic ankle bracelets to track their movements. There are now fewer inmates on home detention than when Baca pushed to expand the program in 2007. When they calculated how many inmates might be eligible for the program, sheriff’s officials thought large numbers of nonviolent, low-security inmates suitable for home detention were in the jails. Their calculation took into account only the current charges inmates were being held on. Once they reviewed the criminal histories of inmates, officials said they found many had serious or violent records that made them ineligible for home detention. “The myth of the low-security, nonviolent offender in jail is just that: a myth,” said sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore.