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Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office planning to expand renewed house arrest program

Published: Sep. 21, 2021 at 10:07 PM CDT
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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) - The Dubuque County Sheriff’s Office wants to expand its house arrest program.

The program was discontinued in the early 2000s, but re-implemented last year to minimize the jail population. County officials said, at the time, this decision would reduce the risk of COVID-19 outbreaks inside the jail.

”We do not see any point in the future where this program is going to go away,” Sheriff Joe Kennedy said. “We see it as an asset to both the community, ourselves, and the offenders. We have tried to take it baby steps, really, trying to get low-level offenders, people with maybe two days, a couple of weeks on there.”

Kennedy plans to grow the program to include people who otherwise would be in jail while waiting for a trial. People who have committed domestic, sexual, or violent crimes are not permitted to participate in the house arrest program.

Aside from reducing the jail population, Kennedy added having more people take part in the house arrest program makes sense.

”When we have people that are here on work release it is kind of a hassle for us because we have to make sure they have food, get them out on time, we need to make sure they get where they need to be so they do not get fired,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy recognized it is important for the county jail staff to keep people with consistent work schedules on track.

“The last thing we want to do is if somebody has consistent employment, we do not want to jeopardize that because then they just fall back into the same cycle that usually gets them in trouble: finances,” Kennedy said. “We recognize that and we want to make sure that, when they are done serving whatever time that they have, that they are in a position where they can be successful moving forward.”

According to Kennedy, the house arrest program also helps them better deal with people who have medical conditions or need constant treatment.

”There is people, sometimes, that we will have here that they have to go to dialysis three times a week,” Kennedy said. “Well, that is incredibly labor-intensive: we have to send a person out to dialysis with them, they sit for several hours with this person and then come back.”

The sheriff explained that, by having those people on house arrest, they would only need one jail staff member to keep an eye on the GPS trackers.

People who participate in the house arrest program still have to pay the county $55 per day. That is the same amount they would have to pay if they were housed in the Dubuque County jail.

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