Neighborhood watch groups urge judges to stop home confinement r - WOWK 13 Charleston, Huntington WV News, Weather, Sports

Neighborhood watch groups urge judges to stop home confinement rulings

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A city-wide neighborhood watch group in St. Albans met Thursday night to discuss local crimes and a petition that aims to convince judges to stop issuing home confinement sentences.

"What can be done to work together better to get these drug dealers off the street?" Joseph Higginbotham says he's frustrated. He wants drug dealers off the streets and out of his neighborhood.

"We want them to stop using full prisons as an excuse to not sentence these guys to something," Higginbotham said.

On Thursday night, he presented a petition to neighborhood watch groups across the city, which states those who sign will not re-elect judges who opt for home confinement.

"It doesn't solve the problem to put them on home confinement wearing a GPS monitor. The only thing it does for you is now you know where the drug dealer and buyer are because it's where the ankle bracelet is," he said.

Under the home confinement program, offenders live at home while being closely monitored by ankle bracelets. Kanawha County currently has 165 people serving home confinement. It's the largest program in the state.

"The drugs and alcohol are prohibited. If you're working, you need to be working. You go straight to work and you go straight home. This is not play time over here. We are not a babysitting service and if you want to act like a kid, we'll put you in time out and you don't want to be put in time out," said Captain Carpenter of the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office.  

In Kanawha County, the program runs about $7.50 a day for one person. Jail, however, has a price tag of about $50 a day. But Higginbotham said it's not a matter of cost, it's about being creative with punishments.

"Find a way to punish these people and keep them occupied that doesn't involve incarceration," he said.

Kanawha County Sheriff Deputies contend the home confinement program has an 80 percent success rate. Proof, they say, it is working.

"One of the things we depend on to make this program work is the people in the community and other law enforcement officers," said Carpenter.

He said if you suspect anyone under home confinement is breaking a law, call the office. Deputies will be sent to check out the situation.