Rick Carlson is a deputy in the Shonomish County Sheriff's Office. He penned a column which ran in the Seattle Times last month that focused on electronic home detention firms. These are private companies who agree to provide the function of monitoring people who have been convicted of a crime and have been sentenced to "house arrest."
Many DUI offenders are assigned electronic home detention as a way to allow them to serve a sentence without spending time in jail or prison, where taxpayers must foot the bills. The offenders, who pay for the monitoring service directly, must allow electronic equipment to be installed that monitors their movements - and the individuals are usually restricted from going anywhere other than work, school, or alcohol treatment.
In his column, Carlson called for more oversight of the private companies who offer electronic home detention. Specifically, he wants government to formulate and legislate standards and regulations for these companies. He points to abuses in the system in Florida and Maryland as evidence for his argument.
But Carlson does not mention any hint of wrongdoing or abuse of electronic home detention programs in Washington. So it leads one to wonder whether he is just touting a solution to a problem that doesn't really exist. Moreover, he is advocating government interference in an effort to regulate an industry while apparently ignoring the fact that governments have a long history of actually making things worse when it comes to the way business is done.
It remains to be seen whether lawmakers will examine electronic home detention more closely. But it isn't surprising to hear a member of law enforcement advocate for more laws and rules when it comes to the criminal justice system.