House arrest, a form of punishment, confines an individual to his own house or residence, thus restricting the liberty of the movement of an individual.
House arrest is mainly inflicted on such a person whose movement or travel needs to be restricted to prevent the infliction of greater harm. It is also referred to as “alternative sentencing” when someone gets convicted of an offense.
Can you have visitors on house arrest?
It is at the discretion of a judge to decide on such an issue of a case. It depends on the situation, the number, and the type of visitors requesting to pay a visit during such a period.
This decision will also vary as per the state, depending on the offender’s situation. The decision on the visit also depends on the seriousness of the offense committed or to be committed.
The offender’s family members, including parents, siblings, or children, will get permitted to visit during the house arrest period. An individual can have over doctors, legal advisors, close friends, and relatives by seeking prior permission from the court.
The court in most states will decide the number of visitors to visit at a specific time. The court is completely authorized to restrict the number of visitors.
Objectives of house arrest
A person can be put on house arrest for any offenses to prevent him from committing further crimes. There are certain objectives for inflicting the punishment for house arrest on an individual:
- Punishment: House arrests can be made against misdemeanors as a form of punishment.
- Absence of jail: It is a method to avoid overcrowding in prisons and jails. As a result, persons involved in misdemeanors can instead be incarcerated via house arrest.
- Public safety: The isolation of offenders from the general public helps in keeping up with the peace and public safety. It is the same as arrests in this sense, as arrests also keep away the individual from causing the public harm.
- Enforceability: It does not cost much money and effort to enforce house arrest.
- Reformatory punishment: House arrest is a rehabilitative practice as punishment is given to an individual to avoid harsh punishment and give time to realize his/her mistakes. It is done to reform the offender as a person.
Enforcing house arrest
House arrest is mainly enforced through technological mediums. Offenders will have to wear an ankle monitor or bracelet. The ankle monitor or bracelet is a form of surveillance used as an aid by law enforcement agencies to track down the offender’s movements, and it helps to check whether house arrest is breached.
On breaching the rules of such incarceration and going out of the house, the police will get notified of the breach, and the offender will likely be punished for such violation.
Ankle monitors are cost-effective devices used as a method of enforcing house arrest. However, it is a soft form of punishment that will not be successful in re-offending.
Another system to monitor a person’s activities is an automatic phone calling system. The system works by calling the offender’s phone number and the offender’s response will be recorded to compare to a previously recorded sample of their voice.
Some systems get enabled with photographic features; when the offender picks up the call, it will automatically allow the cameras to click pictures as proof of presence.
If the two voices match, the response is recorded without proceeding with any further action. However, if the phone is not answered or the recordings don’t match, the concerned authorities will get informed regarding the same.
Eligibility for house arrest
The court will decide whether an offender is deemed worthy of house arrest or not. However, the court considers several factors before deciding, some of which are:
The offense committed by a person will be a significant deciding factor before subjecting him to house arrest. If a grave crime affecting society is committed, it becomes unlikely to get the order under house arrest. Any subsequent offense will be considered a refusal factor for house arrest.
Another factor under consideration will be the health of the offender. If the person has certain needs regarding their health, such as taking frequent medication or urgent bed rest recommended by the doctor, house arrest may be considered. In such circumstances, house arrest may get ordered, considering not to put the individual’s health and life in danger. If the person is suffering from a chronic or terminal disease, he will be granted house arrest.
Moreover, the distance between the offender’s house and the victim will need to be examined. If an offender resides close to their victim, it is not possible to get house arrest ordered
How do house arrest works?
House arrest requires applying to the court to seek such privilege.
A home monitoring unit, including the monitoring device, will be set up at the defendant’s house. The monitoring device includes an ankle monitor equipped with GPS to send signals to a monitoring agency 24/7. It provides information to the agency about the location of the person under surveillance and monitors the slip away or harm to the device.
Some of these systems also get equipped with photographic capabilities, and If the agency calls the convict, the system will snap a picture of him answering the telephone. It transmits data to the agencies through satellite networks. This system is more advanced because it allows the agency to track the convict and locate him on a map if he/she leaves the residence.
When is house arrest ordered?
House arrest is typically not considered sentencing like imprisonment and is not even the judge’s first choice for punishment. It’s regarded as a privilege and requested by the defendant’s lawyer, who will establish to the court’s satisfaction that it will be better than inflicting a punishment.
Sometimes, house arrest is issued as a condition of bail to remain in house arrest during the period of bail to avoid any harm to the victim during the bail period.
Conditions under house arrest
House arrest cannot be sought free of cost. The person in such incarceration must pay for the expenses the authorities bear to enforce house arrest. He has to pay a nominal fee to the court for such a period of confining. This fee is either prescribed in the law or is to be decided by the court.
The expenses liable to be paid include:
- Monthly costs of monitoring along with the cost of the monitoring device.
- Fines and fees associated with house arrest prescribed under the concerned legislation
- Maintenance fees for the ankle monitoring device and replacement costs if damaged
Cons of house arrest
- No time credits
The individual subjected to house arrest does not receive time credits, which means the individual will get no credit for a lesser jail sentence or good behavior. So, if an individual get sentenced to 120 days of house arrest, he has to serve 120 days of that house arrest to satisfy the requirement.
- House arrest without being convicted
House arrest is not provided to those convicted and can be pronounced between an ongoing trial or bail condition. There are plenty of instances where individuals facing non-violent offenses will be sentenced to in-house placement to ensure they show up for trial.
- A Jail sentence can be invoked
The significant disadvantage is the violation of any strict rules during house arrest would result in serving in jail for the rest of the sentence.
It is mainly considered a privilege to those in jail, so violating rules would end the rest of the sentence in jail or prison.
House arrest is mainly a privilege sought by an individual, but the court has the discretion to provide such privilege. It is a reformatory practice for less severe offenses and avoids overcrowding jails and prisons.
It is a practice to be pursued to advance the incarceration mechanism with the equipment of technology in it.
The visitors will be allowed in-house arrests depending upon several factors, but if the offense committed or to be committed will affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country, there will be complete restrictions on such visits.
Can a minor be subjected to house arrest?
Yes, a minor will be subjected to house arrest in the same way as an adult.
Can the movement of minors be restricted entirely in house arrest?
If the minor wants to pursue his education or due to some medical illness, he will be allowed to leave for school or hospital under his guardian’s supervision, but his movement must not compromise with his own or the victim’s safety.
How long does a house arrest last in the USA?
A house can last up to any period from two weeks (i.e., 14 days) to twelve months.
Who monitors an individual under house arrest in the USA?
An individual is monitored under house arrest by a probation officer appointed for such a purpose.
At what time of a trial will house arrest be granted?
House arrest can be granted anytime before and after trial, and sometimes if the convict finishes a certain period in a jail sentence, he will be ordered to spend the rest of the time under house arrest.