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House Arrest

NCJ Number
J Petersilia
Date Published
4 pages
This guide examines the nature of and reasons for house arrest, its advantages and disadvantages, and the components of Florida's house arrest program (Community Control Program). It accompanies a videotape by the same title.
House arrest is a sentence in which offenders are ordered by the court to remain confined in their residences, usually allowed to leave only for medical and employment reasons. In at least 20 States, electronic bracelets are used to detect house-arrest violations. The advantages of house arrest are its cost effectiveness, its responsiveness to community and offender needs, ease of implementation, and timeliness. Its disadvantages are the potential to widen the social-control net, its reduction of punishment severity, its focus on surveillance rather than rehabilitation, its intrusiveness and possible illegality, and racial and class bias in participant selection. House arrest may also compromise public safety. Florida's Community Control Program has approximately 5,000 offenders under house arrest on any given day. It targets misdemeanors and felons who would normally be incarcerated. Each offender is supervised by a community control officer, whose primary duty is to ensure that the offender is complying with house arrest restrictions. Participants must pay monthly supervision fees of $30-$50 to offset the costs of supervision. Florida's success and the pressure every State is experiencing to reduce prison populations ensures that interest in house arrest will continue to grow. 5 references, discussion questions.