Wayne County's press release on tether program

Detroit (June 11, 2013) -- A review of the Wayne County Sheriff's electronic monitoring unit (EMU) shows Sheriff Benny N. Napoleon's expansion of the Tether program has saved the county a significant amount of money in these tough fiscal times. The WCSO accommodates about 2800 inmates per day—2200 among the three jails and another 600 on tether (daily populations fluctuate). With only 1,800 inmates per day actually budgeted, if those tether participants were housed in the jails, they would cost the WCSO $87,000 per day instead of 12,000!

"That is a tremendous savings to taxpayers. This program maintains constant watch over the inmates and we don't pay for their food, housing or medical care. That is a difference of $145 per day versus the $20 a day by putting them on tether," said Sheriff Napoleon. "Over the course of a year, that is over $27,000,000."

In 2010, when Commissioner Ilona Varga asked that Actron's contract (the sole vendor at that time) be extended, Sheriff Napoleon requested that an RFP be issued to open the process. As a result, additional providers were selected which led to a significant equipment savings of $4.15 per device or $908,850 annually.

The GPS-based systems—SecureAlert, OmniLink (Actron) and 3M GPS—monitor the physical location of inmates facing misdemeanor or felony charges. They are monitored through satellite computer systems and officers in the field. The SCRAM trans-dermal tether monitors alcohol use through the participant's skin. While jail officials use Secure Alert more often, they say there's good reason for that.

"Secure Alert has a cuff that is far more difficult for the participant to tamper with. It also has a 2-way radio on the device that allows us to talk to the participant directly," said Lieutenant Dennis Ramel. "We use that one to a greater extent because it does a better job in monitoring the participant."

While using this particular device more has thrown the EMU budget off, officials plan to request a re-allocation of funding since the device has proven more effective over time.