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Thursday, September 21, 2017

Judge Davidson on monitors
Recently there has been discussion regarding the use of drug and alcohol monitoring patches and GPS ankle bracelets to monitor offenders who then could be released from the Cocke County Jail. The jail recently lost it's state certification partially because of overcrowding. As recently as Monday evening, Cocke County Commissioner Love Henderson argued for a monitoring plan at the Cocke County Legislative Body meeting. She said monitors could reduce the number of inmates in the jail and also remove the county's liability for the medical bills of sick inmates. Violent offenders and sex offenders under state law would not be eligible for such a monitoring program But for the proposal to be workable, the judge in the case must sign off on the plan. So is that a plan that Cocke County General Sessions Judge Brad Davidson could work with? "I don't think we have anything to lose by trying it for non-violent offenders. Many counties already are using monitors," Davidson said. The judge said the patch system absorbs perspiration from the inmate and the patch then can be tested to determine if the inmate has used a prohibited substance. And the GPS system monitors the whereabouts of the inmate. "In my opinion if someone can be out of jail, sleeping in their own bed and going to work, they can pay their court costs and fines, and everyone benefits." Davidson says the proposal won't work for everyone, but he would like to try it. Because the jail is operated by the sheriff's department, Sheriff Armando Fontes would be required to give his OK. Those inmates who are not indigent would pay the $7 daily monitoring fee, and there is a state fund to cover the cost if an inmate is indigent. The state pays about $37 daily per state inmate for housing in a certified jail, but because Cocke County's jail is not certified, it is not reimbursed for housing those who have been convicted of a felony.

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