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Electronic monitoring is often an alternative to jail

May 16, 2022 | Criminal law

Jails and prisons across Texas and the rest of the country are seriously overcrowded. While that presents significant problems for us as a nation, if you’re someone who has never been in any kind of legal trouble before or who isn’t considered a threat to the community, it can mean that you don’t have to serve time behind bars.

Electronic monitoring (also known as “house arrest”) isn’t just an option available to wealthy, famous people who are allowed to serve their sentences while doing Zoom meetings and taking private yoga classes in their multi-million-dollar mansions. It can be available to those who qualify after a guilty plea, conviction or while awaiting trial.

Harris County has seen a substantial increase in electronic monitoring

Texas’ electronic monitoring programs are typically run by individual counties. They involve an ankle monitor that tracks the location of the person wearing it. Generally, people have to stay within a specified perimeter like their property with exceptions that allow them to go to work, school, special programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and meetings with their attorney.

Over the past couple of years, the number of people on electronic monitoring grew substantially – in part due to health concerns in jails and prisons. Here in Harris County, there were over 4,000 people wearing ankle monitors in Oct. 2021.

If you have the option of electronic monitoring, it’s crucial that you understand and comply with the restrictions it carries. For example, if you’re dealing with a DUI charge, you may be prohibited from drinking or using drugs. If you run afoul of the rules, you could find yourself behind bars for the remainder of your sentence. 

Of course, your first choice is to avoid a conviction at all. However, in some cases, that may not be an option. That’s why it’s important to know what options are available to you so that you can minimize the impact of a criminal charge on your life.