In California, a conviction does not always result in incarceration. In fact, courts have recognized that alternatives to incarceration often result in a better outcome for offenders and for the community.

According to the Orange County Probation Department, Supervised Electronic Confinement is a home detention program that offenders may qualify for in lieu of jail time.

The program

The California Penal Code allows the county to contract with a company that provides an alternative confinement program. The company tracks participants, monitors their compliance with the terms and conditions of their probation, takes care of drug or alcohol testing and addresses violations of the program.

While serving their sentence in a home environment, participants may still work, take educational or vocational classes, attend counseling sessions and receive necessary medical and dental attention. Participants who do not violate program rules earn good time credits toward early release.

The equipment

A participant must wear a GPS transmitter that fits around the ankle. The program may also involve an alcohol testing device and a landline monitoring device, which the company places within the residence.

The monitoring company requires participants to pay a fee based on ability to pay. Inability to pay does not disqualify someone from participating, however.

Eligibility

The conviction must be for an offense that is nonviolent, nonsexual and nonserious. A defendant in a misdemeanor or felony case must receive approval from the probation department to qualify for the program. If the court determines that the defendant is a danger to the public, he or she may not qualify, regardless of eligibility.

If the court provides a recommendation for acceptance, it will of course influence the probation department’s decision.  The department may still deny a defendant from participation in the program but, the applicant must be given a written denial that includes the reasons and the applicant’s right to appeal the decision.