New program to help alleviate Vand. Co. jail population - 14 News, WFIE, Evansville, Henderson, Owensboro

New program to help alleviate Vand. Co. jail population

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The Vanderburgh County Jail has been overcrowded nearly everyday since it opened in 2006.

To ease the problem, the county prosecutor and judges are trying a different approach to sentencing.

ABK Tracking monitors the county's home detention, drug and alcohol programs.

Officials say it is an alternative to incarceration and although it's certainly not for everyone, new technology is making it easier to track and rehabilitate criminals.

"The programs where we're not incarcerating people, they're growing," said Judge David Kiely. "We're starting to realize that when we have an opportunity to place someone on a program where they can pay for it themselves, it makes a lot more sense than just locking them in a jail cell."

On average, the county has about 280 people on the alternative sentencing programs.

Officials say they not only help alleviate jail overcrowding. They are saving the county money.

Keeping those 280 out of jail saves the county $3.8-million a year. If those 280 people were in state prisons, it would cost taxpayers $5.5-million a year.

"Not only is it saving money, but these people are working putting money back into taxes," said Danny Koester.

Koester is the owner of ABK Tracking. He says a program called E-RAM is growing in popularity among the county prosecutor and judges.

Twice a day, the user must sit in front of a camera and talk to the live operator.

The operator compares the eyes to images taken when the user was clean. If the user fails, they are called in to do a urine test for more definitive results and the individual is turned over to law enforcement.

"We have a lot of repeat offenders, and I think the national statistics out of prison is almost 66% of people that go into prisons end up back there again in three years," said Kiely.

The programs with ABK Tracking range from about $5-$16 a day.

Those fees are paid for by the individual, not the county.

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