Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski today announced the elimination of home-monitoring fees charged to pre-trial and sentenced individuals.
The Baltimore County Home Detention Program permits eligible inmates to be supervised in their homes as an alternative to incarceration, affording the inmate an opportunity to continue employment, provide family support, and promote community involvement.
“This is an issue of simple fairness. Individuals on home detention, most of whom are individuals not convicted and awaiting adjudication of non-violent crime charges, should not have to face additional financial burdens,” Olszewski said. “Expensive home monitoring fees create unnecessary impediments, and the elimination of home monitoring fees will better allow these residents to support themselves and their families.”
Pretrial services help to mitigate the fiscal and human cost concerns with unnecessary incarceration. These programs support safety and efficiency by ensuring that the appropriate high-risk individuals are incarcerated while the appropriate low-risk individuals are released. Pretrial conditions for release may include reminder calls, electronic monitoring, and drug testing, as well as mental health or substance abuse treatment or counseling.
County pretrial services do not always include fees, and when fees are assessed they frequently merely help to recoup some share of actual service costs. They are not imposed for profit. Additionally, there are often requirements for the fees to be waived if a defendant is indigent and cannot afford to pay.
According to a Baltimore County press release:
As a result of court closures and trial delays caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, many individuals who are awaiting trial have been placed on home monitoring for much longer than usual – and therefore subject to fees for much longer.
As of December 29, 2020, Baltimore County had 99 individuals in the Home Detention Program. The fee structure for the program was as follows:
- A one-time lab free for drug testing:
- $25 A one-time monitoring fee: $9
- A weekly program fee: $60
The County has often waived fees for individuals on home detention for a number of reasons, including if they were a student or a juvenile, or if they had a disability or were unemployed.
The cost to the County to operate the Home Detention Program is approximately $538,000 per year. If the individuals currently on home detention had been housed at the detention center instead, the cost for the year would exceed $3 million.
The elimination of fees does not impact those individuals who are on private home detention and not monitored by the Department of Corrections.