CLEVELAND COUNTY, Okla. - A new program in Cleveland County is allowing non-violent juveniles to wear ankle monitors, freeing up detention center beds and saving the county money.
"I think it's a good thing to have these kids not just locked up and institutionalized,” Judge Steven Stice, a Special District Judge for Cleveland County, said.
It’s that passion that spawned a new idea.
"We want to try and find an alternative to holding them in detention but also the safety of the community is important,” Stice said.
So, the solution Stice found is ankle monitors for non-violent juveniles, which essentially puts them on house arrest and allows them to go to school.
"I went to the county commissioners and asked them if this was something that they'd be willing to pay for. Obviously, they pay the budget for the sheriff's office and those types of things. I explained to them why I think it would work,” Stice said.
They agreed to do it on a trial basis, which ended up proving successful.
"We count monitor days, how many times a kid is on a monitor. Up to this point, we've used about 800 monitor days,” Stice said.
At $10 a day, that costs the county around $8,000. Depending on the detention center, Stice said that can cost the county anywhere from two to three times that.
"My thought was, let's put these kids back in their homes, back with their families, back at school getting treatment and not just warehousing them,” Stice said.
It’s a big money saver, but also maybe a stepping stone to a better future for some of these kids.
"All of the academics say that the longer you keep a kid detained, they become used to it and that there is a higher statistic that they're going to be in the higher prison population,” Stice said.
The monitors are able to limit the zone where the juveniles can go. Once the alarm goes off, Stice is notified and contacts police.