ACRJ’s home electronic incarceration participants share their stories
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) - The Albemarle-Charlottesville Regional Jail has had a home electronic incarceration program for years, but really ramped it up when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Instead of staying behind bars, people in this program were given the opportunity to serve their sentence at home while working, and the difference helped them to get their lives back on track.
“It actually helped me find the job, recycling, and I started picking trash on the line, ”work release program participant Jeremy Lambert said. “From there I moved into maintenance, and then I moved in to shop, and now I’m their welder and service all their equipment and everything.”
Lambert was a part of ACRJ’s home incarceration program, which lets some nonviolent inmates serve a sentence from home. Now, Lambert has his own home and a new born baby.
“I think it set me up, you know, to succeed,” Lambert said. “They put me in the right spot and put me with the right people, and it’s more than just the program: it was family and friends, and I have a few good people that just pushed me to do better the whole time.”
Another success story is James Felton. He worked at a restaurant while serving his time at home.
“I was allowed to stay at home or go outside, you know, instead of being behind bars. It was nice. Sometimes it would get, you know, depressing just because you can’t go anywhere, but it beats being behind bars and in a jumpsuit all the time,” Felton said.
For Tammy Finley, a car accident got her in trouble, but the program let her safely continue the dialysis treatments she needed.
“I was pretty scared because being on dialysis is a pretty serious medical condition, and I was fearful of being in jail and being able to take care of myself properly. However, house arrest was the greatest alternative ever,” Finley said.
Staying at home meant safety from COVID-19 too.
“I’m actually immune compromised, so the jail situation was going to be very difficult for me,” Finley said. “I was able to stay in my own home, not have people in and out of my house.”
Her ankle bracelet was removed at the end of September, after six months
“The only difference is, I don’t have people to call and check in now. When I left the house I would have to call the jail, let them know where I was going, when I got there, let them know where I was,” Finley said.
The staff at ACRJ helped make the experience a positive one.
“They encouraged me, and they were there for me, so I appreciate them,” Felton said.
“I can’t say enough about them, how gracious I am for them and the support that they have given me through all of this. They made it a very easy process, not something that was overwhelming, and something that you would be fearful of,” Finley said.
Since the start of the pandemic, ACRJ says it has had 454 participants in the program. The jail says of that number, only a little over 1% have been removed for committing another crime.
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