County of Sacramento Jail Alternatives

There are presently three ways to avoid doing actual jail time in Sacramento County.  They are the Home Detention/Work Furlough, Work Project and Community Service Programs. All three programs are run by the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department, and are located at 700 North 5th Street. I picked up a number of forms and related paperwork today but because these things change from time to time, I’ve decided not to include them here.


Perhaps the least complicated to explain, is the Work Project Program. If the court refers you, simply take your pink jail commitment paperwork to them with $80.00 and get signed up. Typically, you’re required to do so within 5 business days of the date you resolve your case.  The cost of the program is $40 per day.  If you only have a few days of work project and you can afford to do so, pay it all at once.  It may be possible to get a reduction of the cost or make payments but you’d have to try to work that out with the finance people at the facility.  Even if you’re short on money, I suggest you go talk to them within the time allowed. This is one of those cases where it’s better to ask permission than for forgiveness!  If you wait until you have money, you may end up with a warrant requiring you to do actual jail time instead.  You’ll be asked to fill out some paperwork when you first arrive, pay the cashier $80, then take a seat until someone comes to get you for an interview.  The interview process is just to be sure you’re a good fit for the program and to be sure you understand the rules.  I suspect that most people qualify, unless they have a disability or horrible criminal history.


There are only four sites available on weekends, so if you’re not working during the week you should expect to do your work project time Monday through Friday.  The four weekend sites are Roseville Road and Meadowview Road, where you will meet and be transported by bus to another location.  The Light Rail Station in Folsom is the third location.  If the area is already clean, they’ll give you a free ride on Light Rail to another station to clean that area.  A return trip is also included!  The fourth site is the cemetery at Broadway and Riverside Blvd.  This site is for men only.  On days other than weekends, there are a number of locations and people doing work project from Elk Grove all the way to Citrus Heights.  If you are a low risk offender with a longer sentence and a skill like carpentry, they may have you work on the toy project in Rancho Cordova.


They may offer you another program if you’re not in school or working that is Monday-Thursday and lasts for two weeks. It’s basically a life skills program, in a classroom setting, that gives you some tools to help with getting employed.


The second program is Work Furlough/Home Detention. It’s located to the left of the Work Project Office.  Follow the cement path up from the street until you see a sign that says, Home Detention.  Look to your left and you’ll see a blue door that says, Home Detention Sheriffs Work Release Program on it.  The hours on the door say 8:00am to 4:00pm but they only accept applications until 2:00pm, so don’t cut it too close. I’m told that mornings are generally busy and the best time to show up is between about 11:00am and 2:00pm.


I suggest that you make a brief stop at the Probation Office on your way to the Home Detention Office and pick up a “No Presentence Probation Report Letter.”  It’s just one less thing you’ll have to do later.  Probation is at 711 “E” Street, fairly close to the courthouse. You’ll just need the jail commitment paperwork from court and some form of ID. If your case was a DUI, you may not have a Driver’s License. In this instance, you may want to apply for a California ID card, as you’ll need ID for the Home Detention Program at some point as well. When you show up, realize there may be other people already there and there are generally just one or two people to help people signing up. You definitely shouldn’t count on this being as quick as the drive through at McDonald’s. You’ll get a brief explanation of the program and a small handful of papers that you’ll be asked to fill out and return with a money order or cashier’s check for $130.  It is possible to pay with cash, a credit or debit card next door at the Work Project Facility but it may be more trouble than it’s worth.


When you return all your completed paperwork, you’ll be given a date to return for an interview. On the day of the interview, you’ll be asked to watch a 10-15 minute video that will give you a general explanation of the program. Then you’ll talk with someone about the specifics of your case, your past record of arrests, the costs of the program, etc. It may seem odd that they want to know about cases that didn’t result in a conviction but they are just trying to ensure that they don’t have difficulties with you later.


If you are lucky enough to just have one or two days to serve, you may be able to avoid the full blown interview. If you’re determined to be suitable, they have a voice recognition program that is much simpler and doesn’t involve a bunch of equipment. It will also avoid the need to return equipment after your time is served.


Most people are fitted with the Radio Frequency equipment. It consists of a base unit that you take home and attach to your telephone with cords that they provide. It also includes an ankle bracelet that is attached to you.  You get all the instructions on the day you start the program. You won’t be able to work on the day the program is started because you’ll need to hook up the equipment and be home for the Sheriffs to check and make sure it’s operating properly. While the equipment may work outside the house, they suggest strongly you stay inside to avoid potential problems.


If you have a traveling type of job or you’re a high risk applicant (heavy duty crime, DUI injury or long sentence), you’ll likely be fitted with a GPS unit. This unit has to be plugged in and charged for two hours every day.


There’s a third device that includes an alcohol sensor that you have to blow into at random times.  It also photographs the person blowing into the device.


They may also be using an alcohol sensing bracelet called SCRAM. SCRAM is an ankle bracelet that tests for alcohol regularly and some units have GPS.


There are charges for the program but it is better that you get that information directly from the people running the program.


Sometime after the interview you’ll get an acceptance or denial letter in the mail with instructions on what to do next.


Once a week you’ll get 4 hours of time to go grocery shopping, go to doctor appointments, church, etc.  You will also be able to go to any court ordered programs like the DUI School. If something comes up that feels important you can turn in a Kite when you show up for your weekly urine test.


They do a general screen for drugs and you would be advised to disclose any prescription medications you are taking. You’ll be asked to fill out a pink paper with all your medications. You must also bring the pill bottles with your name and information with you, so there’s no misunderstanding later. A Prop 215 marijuana card isn’t a prescription for purposes of this program.


When the Sheriffs visit your home or work place they do so in unmarked vehicles and in civilian clothes, so they don’t attract unwanted attention.  If they have to visit your workplace, they’ll try to make an appointment with your employer first.


Anyone over 18 years of age living in your home will also need to sign the Occupant’s Agreement/Permission to Search form at the Home Detention Office.


No alcohol or weapons are allowed in the home while you are on the program.


While you may not be automatically excluded from the program, arson, sex crimes or crimes of violence cause the Sheriff some concern and they will look closely at your application before agreeing to accept you.


The last program is the Alternative Sentence Program. It’s basically community service that is monitored by the Sheriff’s Office.  There are sites throughout Sacramento County and I’m told it’s easy to find a place to work 6 hour shifts, which count as one day. It is possible to do 7 days a week if necessary. If you’re in a bigger hurry than that there is even one location that can accommodate 2 shifts in one day but it’ll keep you busy from 6:00am until about 10:00pm.


There is a cost but you’ll have to work it out with the people running the program. There are about 900 people in the program now, so it must be working.