Geiger Corrections Center on Thursday released its first inmate on a newly reinstated electronic home monitoring program intended to reduce costs of incarceration to taxpayers.
The new monitoring program will be combined with a more sophisticated risk assessment and other in-house treatment programs to help offenders transition to productive lives.
It is part of a series of changes called for in a newly released blueprint for reform by the Spokane Regional Criminal Justice Commission.
County budget cuts several years ago eliminated an earlier electronic home monitoring program at Geiger.
As many as 25 low-risk misdemeanor and felony offenders will now be able to reduce the number of nights they have to stay at Geiger through electronic monitoring, said Lt. Joanne Lake of Spokane County Detention Services.
Offenders will pay the cost for renting the device or devices, which runs from $4 to $10 a day.
The county will save approximately $95 a day because it isn’t holding them at Geiger.
Offenders at Geiger are now being screened for their suitability to alternative programs.
Lake said inmates sent to Geiger will initially be considered for in-house therapy programs, designed to help prisoners end criminal patterns.
From there, inmates might move to work release or community service. Those going to community service programs will be the primary candidates for electronic home monitoring, Lake said.
Advances now allow the use of a variety of methods: radio, cellular or GPS technology as well as electronic alcohol monitoring.
Case managers will get email reports from the devices.
“It’s pretty exciting to add this to the continuum of services we offer,” Lake said.
In recent years, district and municipal courts have developed their own electronic home monitoring programs, especially for drunken drivers.
Bringing electronic monitoring back to Geiger extends the use of electronics to enforce accountability among offenders, Lake said.
The hope is that low-risk offenders will be able to keep healthy relationships with their families and community. Unemployed offenders will be required to look for work or upgrade their education. They will also be encouraged to participate in treatment if appropriate, officials said.