WSAZ INVESTIGATES: Repeat Offenders on Home Confinement

By: Brooks Jarosz Email
By: Brooks Jarosz Email

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Many criminals are given a second chance and can avoid jail time by agreeing to change their ways, but does the home confinement program actually work?

It's not the first time and it won't be the last for convicted criminals to violate their home confinement.

With jail overcrowding, home confinement has proved to be a big benefit, but when criminals press their luck on the street, they're back in court to face a judge time and time again.

"If you're sent to prison in West Virginia, you've earned it," Prosecutor Mark Plants said. "You've had multiple, multiple chances to correct your ways."

Right now, more than 220 criminals in Kanawha County have been given a second chance. Officials say history shows one in 10 will not make it through without breaking the rules.

"What we're trying to do is get them another line of work and if they continue to do that and get caught then shame on them," Harry Carpenter with the home confinement said. "We'll incarcerate them and get it stopped."

Charges ranging from drug possession and child porn to murder and child neglect, many are given the opportunity to get rehabilitated.

"What we often see is these types of criminals who are on home confinement violate it whether it's by having or possessing alcohol, failing a drug test or failing to show up to meetings," Plants said.

All of those criminals can add up to a heavy caseload for prosecutors. It does extend the length of time criminals are in the court system but there's still faith in the system itself.

County officials collectively argue it saved taxpayers money and prevents jail overcrowding. Instead of paying $50 a day to lock one up, these convicted criminals are collectively paying $11,000 a day.

"We have far more successes then we do failures," Carpenter said. "And those are the people that no one wants to talk about."

To ensure success, high risk criminals are strapped down with GPS tracking devices, alerting confinement officers of where they are 24/7. It's a way to push them to turn their lives around.

"We have to motivate them to be a productive member of society and if they're not going to be a productive member of society, then remove them from society," Plants said.

County officials hope criminals will be encouraged to become working professionals and become active in the community.

Ultimately it’s up to a judge to determine whether or not a person will get home confinement.

Prosecutors say it’s a privilege to be on home confinement. Kanawha County has one of the biggest programs in the state.

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