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Windham County sheriff tests electronic monitoring bracelet - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Windham County sheriff tests electronic monitoring bracelet

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NEWFANE, Vt. -

Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark is testing a high-tech device. It's an electronic monitoring bracelet that can track criminals where they are, where they've been and even how fast they're driving.

Reporter Shelby Cashman: That's your speed!

Sheriff Keith Clark: That's my actual speed in my car as I was traveling.

"It's not as uncomfortable as I thought it would be," Clark said.

Clark is just tracking himself.

"Currently I'm the only one wearing it. I decided if I'm going to be able to articulate to people how it works that I should wear it, so today is Day Five," said Clark.

Electronic monitoring of convicted felons in lieu of incarceration is not a new concept, but the idea of local police control is.

Sheriff Clark says the state corrections department currently has the hardware, but not the manpower.

"The difference for us is we're going to be actively monitoring this. It will be a separate monitor in my dispatch area where a dispatcher or administrator will be able to look at this and say, 'oh I see where this person is supposed to be or they're not,'" said Clark.

The sheriff says monitoring can also protect victims. They can be given a device that will alert them if their offender is approaching and they can also target certain vicinities or specific addresses.

Sheriff Clark also believes this technology could be the answer to overcrowding in the state's prisons saving some major cash.

He reports the electronic monitoring device he is testing and proposing for a pilot project in Windham County would cost approximately $30 a day per offender and the current cost to put someone in a Vermont jail cell is around $180 per day per inmate.

And Clark says the best candidates for electronic monitoring instead of jail would be nonviolent offenders or offenders with strong ties to the community reducing flight risk.

"It could be violent crimes but again through the program we are going to build risk assessment protocols to make sure we put the right people in the program," said Clark.

But the devices have raised some concerns.

Defender General Matthew Valerio thinks electronic monitoring instead of incarceration is a good idea, but it has potential to be abused.

"You end up with people who would otherwise be released on regular conditions who don't really need this type of monitoring being drawn into it," said Valerio.

Sheriff Clark acknowledged the same concerns as Valerio, but says that's the reason why a pilot program in Windham County would be a perfect opportunity to work out issues before implementing the devices statewide. Pending legislative approval, he hopes to put the first device Oct. 1 and by the end of a two-year pilot program he projects around 30 devices will be in use.

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