The Maricopa City Council enacted a home-detention program Tuesday to allow some defendants to be placed under house arrest.
They will still need to serve 20 percent of their sentence in jail and be monitored for alcohol use.
“This is a very beneficial program,” Paul Jepson, assistant to the city manager, told the council.
Although the program, based out of municipal courts, is allowed under state law, Maricopa did not previously enact it because the law required defendants to work in the county in which they were sentenced.
“With over 70 percent of our workforce driving to Maricopa County, it just was futile to try this home-detention program,” Jepson said. “It just didn’t work given the geographical boundary.”
However in March, Gov. Jan Brewer signed a bill eliminating the geographical requirement.
Defendants who qualify for the program are given a GPS device so law enforcement officials can monitor their whereabouts. They also will be administered regular breathalyzer tests at their home.
The program is cheaper for both the city and the defendants – who are required to pay for their own jail time – Jepson said.
“The jail time is ultimately the responsibility of the defendant,” Jepson said. “The city pays up front, but then we need to be reimbursed. That doesn’t always happen.”
Jepson said when a person is sentenced to 30 days of jail time for extreme drunken driving – a driver with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 to 0.19 – it costs $919 to pay for the required six days of jail time and 24 days of monitoring. It would cost $2,296 for the same defendant to serve the sentence just in jail.
Arizona’s blood alcohol limit is 0.08.
Under the home-detention program, the monitoring company is responsible for collecting the money, Jepson said.
“It’s a good deal for them, and it’s a good deal for Maricopa, he said.Defendants serve less jail time under the program and are able to return to work sooner.
“Everybody’s better off if people can keep their employment,” Jepson said.
To qualify for the program, defendants must comply with travel restrictions, GPS and alcohol-monitoring requirements and pay the costs incurred for the program.
Defendants who do not comply can be sent back to jail.