Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

January 29, 2013

Pre-trial release program a success

GPS anklet system saves county $1.4 million

VALDOSTA — The Southern Judicial Circuit’s Pretrial Release Program has saved Lowndes County more than $1.4 million since it began Jan. 30, 2012.

 The program, which allows felony offenders waiting to move through the court system to be released from jail with a GPS tracking anklet, costs county taxpayers $7 per day—an average of five to six times less than it costs to keep them incarcerated in the Lowndes County Jail.

The program was initially established for a six-month trial period, during which time cost savings were immediate, and the Board of Commissioners renewed the program for a full budget year, according to Commissioner Joyce Evans.

The target population for the program includes felony offenders on probation for pending charges, with a majority of the offenders charged with drug offenses and property crimes who are not eligible for bond.

A limited number of the offenders ordered into the program have been charged with other offenses including aggravated assault, battery, armed robbery and child molestation.

A total of 107 offenders have been released to date, and each case is screened by Southern Circuit Probation Officer Steve Ulm before he recommends offenders to the court. Once they are released with the ankle bracelet tracking device, the location of the offenders is monitored 24 hours a day.

The anklets acquire a GPS signal every minute, and this information is transmitted every 10 minutes to the home monitoring company Veritracks. Ulm receives alerts throughout the day for a variety of activities including leaving and returning to the residence, entering exclusion zones, bracelet strap violations and shielding or jamming violations, he stated.

The unit has to be charged for 30 minutes twice a day, but it does not have to be plugged into a land line, Ulm stated. The system relies on 30 satellites in orbit around the globe.

With the tracking anklets in place and working properly, offenders are placed on a pre-trial release track bond that includes conditions that must be monitored. The arrangement is similar to being placed on probation prior to charges being disposed, Ulm stated.

Offenders who benefit most from this program include those with medical conditions or disabilities like HIV, dialysis needs or pregnancy; who were employed prior to arrest and can return to work if released; who were enrolled in school; who are addictive personalities who can be placed in appropriate treatment if released; and who suffer from mental health issues who can also be placed in treatment, according to Ulm.

The program began after a group of concerned citizens, led by Louis Gordon, approached Evans about the length of time first-time, non-violent offenders were spending in jail while waiting to move through the court system, and made suggestions about how to solve it.

In reaction, Evans and Commissioner Richard Raines began work on the concept of an anklet monitoring system. Commissioners secured the funding, and the courts and the Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office worked out program details.

“As with all county services, the pre-trial release program will be continuously monitored for efficiency,” Chairman Bill Slaughter said. “As funding will allow and at the request of the Sheriff and court system, the program may be expanded in the future.”

This expansion would include more offenders released with the GPS tracking devices. Raines called the program one of his proudest achievements during his time in office.

“Non-violent offenders are being given an opportunity to make the best out of what might have been an initial poor decision, while the financial interests of the taxpayers of Lowndes County are being managed more efficiently,” Raines said. “The pre-trial release program is a win-win for everyone involved.”

Evans thanked Gordon and the group of citizens who came forward to initiate the program, and called it “a successful solution to a challenge facing not only Lowndes County, but governments across the state as well.”

“I am proud of this program; it has not only met, but exceeded everyone’s expectations,” Evans said.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 140422-Dan_Keplinger003.jpg The Art of Determination

    Artist Dan Keplinger invests passion into his frenetic pieces. His line work teems with energy. An unexpected trait in the often technically precise medium of printmaking.

    April 23, 2014 3 Photos

  • 140422-RibbonCutting.jpg Learning center named in Horne’s honor

    Noting his lengthy legacy in educating the region's young people, Valdosta City Schools officially renamed the Pinevale Learning Center Tuesday in honor of the late Maceo A. Horne Jr.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rose: Dismiss ‘Quitman 11’ case

    Following the second mistrial in the case of a Brooks County woman accused of voter fraud, a local civil rights leader has called for the issue to be dismissed, but prosecutors plan to seek prosecution for a third time.

    April 23, 2014

  • Lawsuit challenging Ga. gay marriage ban filed

    A gay rights group filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday challenging Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

    April 23, 2014

  • Commission denies City’s annexation request

    Lowndes County received an annexation request from the City of Hahira for five parcels of land that spanned approximately 66 acres, for the purpose of future development, and because the applicant sought city water and sewer.

    April 23, 2014

  • Confederate Memorial Day observed this weekend

    The United Daughters of the Confederacy, Valdosta Chapter 471, will observe Confederate Memorial Day, 10 a.m. Saturday, April 26, at Sunset Hill Cemetery.

    April 23, 2014

  • connell book review.jpg Literary Guild hears Fannie Flagg’s latest

    “Reading for fun is great, but learning while reading is super,” Sandra Connell told the Literary Guild at the April meeting.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Performance index tops Lowndes school board meeting

    Lowndes County Board of Education celebrated the results of the College and Career Readiness Performance Index scores during its regular session Monday night.

    April 23, 2014

  • N1401P14008C.TIF Sheriff hosts Prescription Take-Back Day

    The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office will collect unused medications this Saturday as a part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 140421 - flooding Shiloh Rd B#1.jpg Road re-opens following flooding

    Lowndes County officials re-opened one road Monday while keeping an eye on the area’s waterways for potential flooding.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

Top News
Poll

Given the amount of rain recently, what's your favorite “rain” song?

Singing in the Rain
Purple Rain
Have You Ever Seen the Rain?
November Rain
Rainy Night in Georgia
Other
     View Results