Alternative to Jail Time

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Bruce Love is under constant surveillance as he heads to class or goes to work. The GPS device strapped to his ankle is his tracker and ticket out of jail.

Love said, "It helps me, it keeps me out of trouble and lets me know they're watching me and they call me when they think something is going on, so it's real good."

Leon County started using GPS surveillance as part of its pre-trial release program five years ago this month. Each year it's grown, freeing up thousands of days spent in the jail, as a result it’s saving the county about $327,000 for jail time last year.

Once a defendant is placed under GPS monitoring, which is up to the discretion of the judge, pre-trial release supervisors say it's rare they re-offend.

Teresa Bruxton, Leon County's Pre-Trial Release Program supervisor, said, "Most defendants on GPS understand the severity of their offense and their release conditions, so we've had successes with GPS."

If they can afford it, it's the defendants who pick up the tab, about $10 a day for active, constant monitoring, and $5 a day for passive, daily monitoring. If they can't afford it the county pays, but county officials say it's still a savings compared to the $50 a day it costs to keep them behind bars. It's an alternative to jail. Most GPS defendants are more than willing to take.

Love added, "As long as you're doing what you're supposed to be doing, you're cool."

If you compare the number of GPS units to the Leon County Jail population, Leon County's use of GPS is among the highest in the state.

The alcohol monitoring program SCRAM is also proving to be a success. The county started with only five units to monitor defendants accused of alcohol related offenses. The county now has 25 units.