The Electronic Tether program, which tracks approximately 4,000 people in the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) probation and probation programs, will remain online through January 1, 2021.
MDOC spokesman Chris Gautz previously told At Center Square, the Tether would be “dark” by the end of 2019, when Verizon planned to switch from a 3G to a 4G network.
That would mean MDOC would lose sight of about 4,000 people on parole or parole, some of whom are sex offenders, violent criminals, and drunk drivers, Gautze said, because the current budget doesn’t include $ 4.6 million on new seatbelts.
“We do not want to burden the public with it and ask the victims whether the person who bullied them is lost from sight,” said Gautz. “We’d rather not have this situation, so we want to get this done as soon as possible.”
A “tether” is an electronic monitoring device that enables probation officers to monitor and enforce curfews and other community custody conditions for those released from prison.
Gautz said Governor Gretchen Whitmer originally budgeted the funding but did not survive legislative scrutiny.
“Fortunately, Verizon reached out to us and told us they were postponing the phasing out of 3G for another year,” said Gautz, adding that MDOC would otherwise have had no time to replace the Tether before January 1st.
Gautz estimated that it would take about 30 to 45 days to replace the 3G tethers, which would take several weeks from order to delivery.
Then MDOC has to distribute Tethers to 105 branch offices and schedule times with 4,000 people under state supervision to visit an office, fill out paperwork and equip the 4G Tethers.
“We prefer to do this sooner rather than later, and not in the position of being in the same place next year, wondering if we will get the money and wondering if the shackles are getting dark. Gautz said, adding that MDOC hopes to receive funding by the end of 2019 so that the tethering process can begin in late winter or early spring 2020.
“We are a very small percentage of the overall problems that they are trying to debate, and the solution to this overall problem is holding us back from this small but very critical piece,” said Gautz. “We hope they can get together and come to an agreement.”
Wayne County reduced its average prison population by 726 per day from 2014 to 2017 through the Tether Program, which “saved 237,250 prison bed days or $ 30 million in savings for the General Fund,” according to Wayne County’s 2018-19 budget report. .
This program costs taxpayers $ 123 per day per inmate, according to the first meeting of the Jail Task Force, with an average of 690 inmates being monitored per day via tether in 2017, a significantly cheaper option compared to incarceration.
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