Ankle bracelet monitoring program approved

Liliana Castillo

Commissioners unanimously approved an ankle bracelet monitoring contract Tuesday that the jail administrator says could save the county thousands in inmate housing costs.

Administrator Keith Norwood said the program, which currently only has one participant, has the potential to save the county an average of more than $45 per day for each inmate.

The county has had a contract with BI Incorporated for four years, requiring that it be renewed, attorney Stephen Doerr told commissioners.

Under the terms of the contract, the county pays $11 per day, per inmate on the program, which does passive monitoring, meaning the device is checked periodically to track where and when the inmate has been.

Norwood said he is working to modify policies for the program, which he said are too restrictive in some ways.

Inmates must be either employed or in school to be considered, he said.

Norwood said he wants to find a way to offer work opportunities within the county to qualified inmates who don’t have jobs so they can too participate in the program.

“In my opinion, we need to modify it a bit toward the employment section and let’s utilize inmates for the county,” he told commissioners.

Norwood said he has two employees assigned to work the program and just hired a new employee with experience in ankle bracelet programs.

The policy, when completed, will be brought to commissioners for approval, he said.

During the meeting, Norwood recognized two detention officers for exemplary duty, identifying them as the personnel who uncovered and reported an attempted escape Aug. 5.

Lt. Sheila Morrison discovered inmates were making a hole in the wall inside a pod and Ryan Hoggatt assisted her in notifying command and taking appropriate action, he said.

“We caught them before they could do any more damage,” he said.

Norwood said he wanted to commend his staff, who he said have been working hard on projects in the facility and making improvements.

“Working within the detention center; it’s not an easy job,” he said. “We’re gonna make mistakes but we’re going to try… It’s not as bad as what people think about it. It’s going to be a better place.”

All detention officer positions have been filled, he said, with new employees slated for training. He added 62 volunteers have signed up to help with programs in the facility.

“You’re keeping my kids and my grandkids safe,” Commissioner Bobby Sandoval said, thanking Norwood for his efforts.

Sandoval said during an Aug. 3 tour of the jail, he spoke to several inmates and was pleased with what he heard.

“I would like to commend Mr. Norwood for the way that the jail looked. Probably about half of them are my constituents anyway (and) morale is good,” he said.

Commissioner Wendell Bostwick also thanked Norwood for recently sending two inmates to clean up the Melrose cemetery.