Confined to Quarters: Tethering gives agencies a leg up on costs

With each cut in fiscal operations, governmental agencies across the state are faced with the mystifying question of how best to slay the budget dragon.

The stakes are particularly high in the field of corrections, where officials must strike a delicate balance between public safety and fiscal responsibility at a time when the cost of confinement keeps escalating.

With increasing frequency, law enforcement authorities are turning to high-tech tethering devices as a means of curbing jail overcrowding and easing the strain on budgets, according to Leonard Rancilio Sr., founder of Rancilio & Associates, a multi-pronged operation headquartered off Groesbeck Highway in Clinton Township.

The demand for these devices and monitoring services has grown out of necessity over the last few years, said Rancilio, who began Rancilio Home Confinement Services (RHCS) four years ago in response to the need. One of the biggest items in state and county budgets is for corrections, and, as a result, officials are looking at any viable means to control those costs without sacrificing the safety of residents.

From a traditional cost benefit analysis, the advantages of tethering and tracking as opposed to incarceration are readily apparent, according to Mark Loughead, head of RHCS.

The cost of incarcerating an inmate is approximately $115 a day, while tethering and monitoring is in the range of $5.50 a day to $13 per day per offender, depending on the level of supervision and the unit, Loughead said. The savings can be enormous when you begin talking about a 100 inmates a day over the course of a year. Thats nearly $4 million a year in savings, while also eliminating the need to consider building additional jail space.

Tethering programs have grown in popularity by providing offender release and sentencing alternatives for judges, Loughead indicated, lightening the load on an already overburdened judicial system. Use has been most prevalent with offenders involved in substance abuse crimes, domestic assault cases, shoplifting and larcenies, and juvenile matters, he said.

One of the tethering devices, commonly known as TAD, short for Transdermal Alcohol Detector, offers authorities simultaneous alcohol and curfew monitoring. The ankle-worn tether senses alcohol through the skin, reporting all drinking events over a basic threshold level to a central monitoring site. If a violation is detected, an alert is generated, and the supervising agency or officer is notified, Loughead explained.

The ExacuTrack One tether incorporates the latest in the continuum of GPS technology, tracing location and movements within the community in near-real time, collecting data as frequently as every 15 seconds.

Each device provides 24/7 monitoring services and can pinpoint exclusion zones, offering warnings that the offender is near the victims home or workplace, especially in cases where personal protection orders have been issued, Loughead said. Its as if the offender is being watched and tracked by police 24 hours a day.

Rancilio, whose late father was a Detroit policeman for 30 years, said he has spent much of the last two years meeting with corrections officials on the state and county levels, discussing the cost effective benefits of the tethering programs.

We have been able to show that the monitoring programs not only assist agencies with the tracking of those that have been released from jail, but also it can help in their rehabilitation, Rancilio said. The data can be provided that they are going to work, staying away from the bars, going to their treatment centers. It can be invaluable in getting them to be productive members of society. By tracking and monitoring their whereabouts with these devices, we can supply information to the probation officers and court officials that the offenders are doing what they are required to do. They cant say they were in one place, when the tether says they were in another.

The father of four children, three of whom are involved in his various legal businesses, Rancilio began his career in 1979 as a court bailiff in Utica, opening his own security company two years later. By 1985, Rancilio and his wife Lucy had opened a process serving business, watching it grow rapidly with an influx of litigation and collection work in the Metro Detroit area. Their son, Len Jr., is in charge of new business development and oversees day-to-day operations of the company. Son Michael is an account manager for Rancilio & Associates, while their daughter Andrea is an account manager in charge of special projects.

All of the businesses that we have developed are relationship-based, said Rancilio, whose daughter Rachel is an attorney. They are built on trust and integrity. We pride ourselves in providing reliable and dependable service. Our reputation is built on that.

By Tom Kirvan.

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