Analyzing Candidates for Home Electronic Incarceration on Return-to-Custody Rates for Inmates; Evaluation of the Effects of Home Electronic Incarceration

Craft, Chris, School of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Virginia
White, K., University of Virginia
Smith, Michael, EN-CEE, University of Virginia
Alonzi, Loreto, DS-Faculty Affairs, University of Virginia
Earle, Joshua, University of Virginia

My Technical Report deals with home electronic incarceration, otherwise known as HEI, which is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional incarceration across the United States. HEI allows inmates who meet certain qualifications, including stable residency, employment, and nonviolent offense, to serve their sentence from their residence rather than in jail. The Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, had limited capacity for HEI and primarily offered this option to frequent offenders who met the qualifications above. At the advent of COVID, ACRJ rapidly increased their capacity and use of HEI in order to decrease the number of occupants in the jail for reducing the risk of contagion. Following the expansion of the HEI program, previous capstone groups found that offenders who served their sentence on HEI were less likely to reoffend than offenders with similar crimes who served their sentences in jail.
Currently, ACRJ determines which inmates to recommend for HEI based on ad-hoc selections with information gleaned from their files. To streamline this process and increase the number of inmates receiving the benefits shown in last year's capstone research , we are investigating what factors correlate with success on HEI. We hope this information will help the jail determine who will receive the greatest benefits from HEI and recommend those offenders to the program.
The methods consist of comprehensive quantitative analysis of booking data acquired from ACRJ with insight and guidance from contacts at Region Ten Community Services, an organization dedicated to working with those affected by mental illnesses, substance abuse, and/or developmental disabilities. Additionally, Offender and Aid Restoration- Jefferson Area Community Corrections (OAR-JACC) provided meaningful understanding to our project. The quantitative analysis focuses on factors that may correlate with HEI violations and changes in recidivism rates, including criminal history, current charge, mental health, employment, and gender.
The Brief Mental Health Jail Screener (BMHJS) is a screening protocol that was introduced to ACRJ to evaluate the mental health of those booked in on a sentence. This screener determines if a person booked in should be screened in for professional mental health evaluation. Analysis found that individuals screened in are more likely to recidivate as compared to the general population of the jail and those screened in who were on HEI for their sentence.
For my STS Research Paper, I wrote on the implementation of HEI that represents a step in the direction of continued improvement and reform of the American criminal justice system. Additional enhancements to the overall HEI program would be greater access to the program through quality public legal representation. Work to create a more robust public defender system would ensure the support and advocacy for those wishing to become applicants to HEI. Through improvements to the public defender system, HEI becomes a program that is not elitist, rather allows people of all classes and backgrounds to participate. Additionally, HEI programs should be free to the participants instead of charging large amounts of money. By having the program at zero cost, this opens opportunities to the lower class and equality of opportunity to ensure employment, continuation of residency, support of children/dependents, and rehabilitation to the community. Otherwise, individuals’s families may be put into a positive feedback loop of criminal history and impoverishment.
The effectiveness of HEI depends on thorough assessment of candidates’ ability to be successful in the program. Ensurement of quality candidates is paramount to the efficacy of HEI. While according to objective criteria, housing, employment, etc., is essential, looking at candidates in a more holistic manner is required. In order to do this, quality assurance of those vetting and approving applicants need to be ensured.
Further research into the integration of mental health counseling or treatment, peer support groups, and other rehabilitative services within HEI programs is crucial. Investigating the potential positive effects of these interventions on program outcomes can provide valuable insights into supporting successful completion of sentences and community rehabilitation. By examining the impact of outside support systems and small group dynamics, researchers can identify strategies to help HEI participants stay on track towards reintegration and reduce the likelihood of recidivism. This research is essential for optimizing HEI as a rehabilitative tool and promoting positive outcomes for individuals involved in the criminal justice system.
In conclusion, while HEI is not a silver bullet for the intricacies of the American criminal justice system, it stands as a valuable instrument in promoting rehabilitation, curbing recidivism, and fostering greater societal equity while working to relieve overcrowded prisons. By prioritizing accessibility, rigorous assessment, continual enhancement, and comprehensive support, we can unlock HEI's full potential to enact meaningful transformations in individual lives and communities. Through these concerted efforts, implementation of HEI, in appropriate circumstances, can be an important component in our pursuit of a fairer and more rehabilitative justice system.

BS (Bachelor of Science)
Jail, Home arrest, Home electronic incarceration, ACRJ

School of Engineering and Applied Science

Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering

Technical Advisor: Preston White, Michael Smith, Peter Alonzi

STS Advisor: Joshua Earle

Technical Team Members: Stella Banino, George Boulos, Sally Syndor, Laura Phillips

All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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