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Home as Prison - The Use of House Arrest

NCJ Number
Federal Probation Volume: 49 Issue: 1 Dated: (March 1985) Pages: 13-17
R P Corbett; E A L Fersch
Date Published
5 pages
This paper proposes the use of 'house arrest' as an alternative to imprisonment for certain offenders, thereby reducing prison populations.
House arrest involves restricting offenders to their houses except for specified activities, such as work, doctor visits, and participation in rehabilitative programs. Responsibility for enforcing the home confinement would be given to surveillance probation officers who would have reduced caseloads of house arrestees. The probation officers would be responsible for daily, random checks by phone and in person. A violation of the court order would result in a return to court and in most cases, imprisonment. The primary benefits of such a program would be cost savings compared to imprisonment, the offender's continuing to support his family, and the offender's maintaining existing employment and family bonds. The primary disadvantage is less public protection compared to imprisonment. For this reason, house arrest should be limited to offenders who do not pose a significant threat to the public, such as nonviolent property offenders and those convicted of manslaughter while driving drunk. House arrest programs have been tried in Florida, California, and Illinois; their success has been due to careful screening and close monitoring. The paper provides three examples of how house arrest might be used. Twenty footnotes are provided.