PG to License Firms for Home Detention
Wagner, Arlo, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
Home-detention companies began applying for licenses last week under a new Prince George's County law that will regulate how closely those companies monitor criminals and accused criminals.
The county law is similar to a Maryland law that takes effect July 1 when regulations and standards are completed.
Both laws are designed to allow defendants and criminals to stay at home instead of in jail, continuing their jobs and family obligations.
But neither law will prevent violent criminals, like Brian Lamont Sowell, 27, from raping, robbing and assaulting during intervals when they are not being monitored - like when they are supposed to be at work.
Sowell, who already had a robbery record, was on home detention in 1996 when Prince George's County police said he raped five women. He is now serving 95 years in prison for rape, assault and robbery.
Sowell could not have committed his crimes in Virginia. That is because Virginia judges are prohibited from sentencing violent criminals to home detention. In Maryland, home detention is left up to judges.
The Maryland law will affect eight existing detention companies that monitor about 400 defendants and criminals, said Leonard A. Sipes, spokesman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services.
About 85 percent of the home-detention clients have been convicted and are serving probation. The other 15 percent are pretrial defendants. Most monitoring goes on in Baltimore city and Prince George's and Baltimore counties, where five companies are located.
"These regulations they are giving us, they are so vague," said Trena Wagner, president of Monitoring Services Inc. in Upper Marlboro. …