View Full Version : Article: Hinds tries house arrest program


Amy
01-19-2005, 12:54 PM
http://www.clarionledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050119/NEWS01/501190365/1002

January 19, 2005

Private company, headed by former JPD chief, under contract with county to monitor detainees

By Sylvain Metz
smetz@clarionledger.com (smetz@clarionledger.com)

Another program aimed at reducing jail crowding is under way in Hinds County

Protective Services Co. of Mississippi, which offers electronic monitoring for pretrial detainees, has "several" clients, said Robert Johnson, managing director of the Jackson-based company.

Johnson's firm, which contracted with the county in November, began accepting eligible pretrial detainees shortly after the first of the year, he said.
Depending on the amount of supervision required, the cost ranges from $3 per day to $7 per day per detainee, said Johnson, a former Jackson police chief and a former head of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.

The individual or the county will pay the cost of the service, depending on whether the individual can pay, said District 2 Supervisor Doug Anderson.



Citing "privacy" concerns, Johnson would not name those in his program. However, he confirmed that Tommy Vargas is one.

Vargas, 37, of Jackson is charged with vehicular manslaughter in the death of David Coon, 59, of Gainesville, Ga. following a high speed chase started by Brandon police on Dec. 30 along I-20 in Jackson.

Jackson Municipal Judge Bob Waller ordered Vargas placed under house arrest after his release from the hospital on Jan. 12 for injuries, including two broken ankles.

Coon's son, Larry Coon, says Vargas release "doesn't bother me one way or another." Had Vargas been charged with murder or some other violent offense, Coon said he assumes Vargas would have remained in jail. "I understand what their situation is with overcrowding," he said.

Johnson's program is the latest in a cadre of efforts designed to reduce jail crowding in the Hinds County Detention Center at Raymond. The jail, with a capacity for 594 inmates, stays full, mostly with pretrial inmates.

Last August, County Judge Mike Parker announced he would begin holding pretrial status hearings for pretrial detainees held 90 days or longer. A month prior, the state Supreme Court appointed retired Circuit Judge L. Breland Hilburn to take guilty pleas for other circuit judges.

And in August 2003, supervisors approved the hiring of Hinds County Sheriff's Department Maj. Doug Jones to monitor inmates awaiting trial.

Similar electronic monitoring programs are being used in municipal, justice and county courts in Hinds County. Parker, who is unfamiliar with Johnson's program, said he supports electronic monitoring for eligible pretrial detainees. "As a concept, having a person monitored while out on bond and having someone ensure the bond conditions are being fulfilled is very effective."