We support Erie County's efforts to acquire Global Positioning System-based tracking devices for non-violent offenders awaiting trial.
We just wonder what took the county so long.
Two things have been with us for years: Jail overcrowding and reliable GPS for non-military use. The crowding has been with us almost since the jail was built in the early 1990s, and GPS kits for drivers and outdoors-people are available at quite a few stores.
We've long said in this space the crowding at Erie County Jail and other lockups across the country are due in part to the spurious "get tough on crime" political posturing that puts people who are little threat to anyone behind bars, so there is no room for the person who will continue to be a threat. Letting a non-violent person, especially one who has not yet had his or her day in court, roam around on an electronic leash is a more-than-viable alternative to stuffing people into cells.
These things cost money; we understand that. But with the headaches of sharing space with neighboring jails, and consideration of special lockups for non-violent offenders and all the other proposals for bricks and mortar jails of whatever type, this strikes us as spending a dime to save a dollar.
The good thing about having waited so long is that the technology is pretty much developed, so there should be no need for a lengthy and over-detailed evaluation. It should pretty much be off-the-shelf.
Let's get this hooked up.