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In justice and law, house arrest (also called home confinement, home detention, or electronic monitoring) is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to a certain residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all. House arrest is a lenient alternative to prison time or juvenile-detention time.
While house arrest can be applied to criminal cases when prison does not seem an appropriate measure, the term is often applied to the use of house confinement as a measure of repression by authoritarian governments against political dissidents. In that case, typically, the person under house arrest does not have access to any means of communication. If electronic communication is allowed, conversations will most likely be monitored. With certain units, the conversations of criminals can be directly monitored via the unit itself.
Judges have imposed sentences of home confinement, as an alternative to parole, as far back as the 1400s with the Roman Inquisition. But it did not become a widespread alternative to imprisonment until electronic monitoring devices made it inexpensive and easy to manage. The first-ever court sentence of house arrest with an electronic bracelet was in 1983.
Home detention provides an alternative to imprisonment and aims to reduce re-offending while also coping with expanding prison numbers and rising costs. It allows eligible offenders to retain or seek employment, maintain family relationships and responsibilities and attend rehabilitative programs that contribute towards addressing the causes of their offending.
The terms of house arrest can differ, but offenders are rarely confined to their residence 24 hours a day. Most programs allow employed offenders to continue to work, and only confine them during non-working hours. Offenders are also commonly allowed to leave their homes for specific, predetermined purposes; examples can include visits to the probation officer or police station, religious exceptions and medical appointments. Many programs also allow the convict to leave the residence during regular, pre-approved times in order to carry out general household errands such as food shopping and laundry. Offenders may also have to respond to communications from a higher authority to verify that they are at home when required to be. Exceptions are often made to allow visitors to visit the offender.
There are several types of house arrest, varying in severity as to the requirements of the court order. A curfew may restrict an offender to their house at certain times, usually during hours of darkness. Home confinement or detention would require an offender to remain at home for most hours, apart from the above mentioned exceptions. The most serious is home incarceration which would constrain an offender to their home constantly, aside from court-sanctioned treatment programmes and medical appointments.
In some exceptional cases, it is possible for a person to be placed under house arrest without trial or legal representation, with restrictions on who they can associate with. In some countries this has led to criticism, in which it is argued that this type of detention breaches the offender's human rights. In countries with authoritarian systems of government, such measures may be politically motivated to stifle dissent.
Using technology for enforcement
In some countries, house arrest is often enforced through the use of technology products or services. One method is an electronic sensor locked to the offender's ankle (technically called an ankle monitor, sometimes referred to as a tether). The electronic sensor transmits a GPS signal to a base handset. The base handset is connected to police or a monitoring service.
If the subject and the sensor venture too far from the home, the violation is recorded and the proper authorities are summoned. To discourage tampering, many ankle monitors can now detect attempted removal. The monitoring service is often contracted out to private companies, which assign employees to electronically monitor many convicts simultaneously. If the sensors detect a violation, the monitoring service calls the convict's probation officer. The electronic surveillance together with frequent contact with their probation officer and checks by the security guards provides for a secure environment.
Another method of ensuring house arrest compliance is achieved through the use of automated calling services that require no human contact to check on the offender. Random calls are made to the residence and the respondent's answer is recorded and compared to the offender's voice pattern. Authorities are notified only if the call is not answered or if the recorded answer does not match the offender's voice pattern.
Electronic monitoring is considered a highly economical alternative to the cost of imprisoning offenders, especially considering that the convict is often required to pay for the monitoring as part of his or her sentence.
- Ahmed Ben Bella Former President of Algeria deposed by Houari Boumédiènne in 1965, went to exile in 1980.
- Aung San Suu Kyi, Winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and leader of her country's pro-democracy movement, has been under house arrest for most of the past twenty years. She was first placed under house arrest in July 1989 and, though freed six years later, she was again imprisoned in 2000. Two years later, Suu Kyi was released, but yet again jailed for the third time under house arrest after the infamous Depayin Massacre in 2003. She is released after her fourteenth year in confinement to her dilapidated home in Rangoon, in which she served another eighteen months imprisoned, convicted by a Burmese regional court in August 2009 after an American swam across Inya Lake to her house. All of her periods under house arrest have been declared arbitrary by the United Nations. She was released on the 13th November 2010.
- Ne Win Former military commander of Burma from 1962. He was believed to be behind the coup d'état of 1988 which officially deposed him but following an attempt to retake power by his son-in-law, he put under house arrest in 2001 and remained so until his death in December 2002.
- On January 5, 2005, former dictator Augusto Pinochet was placed under house arrest by orders of the Supreme Court of Chile.
People's Republic of China
- Zhao Ziyang, purged Communist Chinese leader, was put under house arrest for the last 16 years of his life after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. His movements had to be approved by the Communist Party of China's Central Office, which only allowed him to travel quietly to different places inside China and to play golf.
- Jiang Yanyong, physician who revealed SARS incident in China. He was put under house arrest after requesting the government to investigate the June 4 Tiananmen incident.
Republic of China
- Zhang Xueliang was put on house arrest by Chiang Kai-shek after the Xi'an Incident. Even after the Nationalists' retreat to Taiwan, he remained in house arrest until Chiang Ching-kuo's death in 1988.
- Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen), Iraqi scientist working in Egypt. In 1011, he feigned madness in fear of angering the Egyptian caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah. He was kept under house arrest until the caliph's death in 1021.
- Muhammad Naguib, former President of Egypt. He led a military coup in 1953 and deposed the former King Farouk. He was in turn deposed by Gamal Nasser in 1954.
- The last Hawaiian queen Liliuokalani had her prison sentence commuted to imprisonment in an upstairs bedroom of Iolani Palace by the Republic of Hawaii until she was released in 1896.
- Sukarno, First President of Indonesia. He was deposed in 1967 by General Suharto (see: Transition to the New Order).
- Mohammad Mosaddegh, Former Premier of Iran was deposed by coup in 1953 with support of the United States. Following three years of imprisonment, he was placed under house arrest until his death.
- Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri was sentenced to house arrest from 1997 to 2003.
- Mehdi Karroubi an influential Iranian reformist politician, democracy activist, mojtahed, and chairman of the National Trust Party, Chairman of the parliament from 1989 to 1992 and 2000 to 2004, and a presidential candidate in the 2005 and 2009 presidential elections. He is under house arrest from February 2011 until now.
- Mir-Hossein Mousavi is an Iranian reformist politician, painter and architect who served as the seventy-ninth and last Prime Minister of Iran from 1981 to 1989. He was a candidate for the 2009 presidential election. He is under house arrest from February 2011 until now.
- Googoosh is a famous Iranian singer and actress. After the Iran Revolution she was under a 21 year ban from performing and was assumed to be under house arrest for much of the time.
- In Italy, the house arrest (in Italian arresti domiciliari) is a common practice of detaining suspects, alternative to detention in a correctional facility, and is also commonly practiced on those felons who are close to the end of their prison terms, or for those whose health condition do not allow their permanence in a correctional facility, except some particular cases of extremely dangerous persons. As for the article n°284 of the Italian Penal Procedure Code, the house arrests are imposed by a Judge, who orders the suspect to stay confined in his house, home, residence, private property, or any other place of cure or assistance where he/she may be housed at the moment. When necessary, the judge may also forbid any contact between the subject and any person other than those who cohabit with him/her or who assist him/her. If the subject is unable to take care of his/her life necessities or if he/she is in conditions of absolute poverty, the judge may authorize him/her to leave his/her home for the strict necessary time to take care of said needs or to exercise a job. The prosecuting authorities and law enforcement can check at any moment the factive respect of said orders by the subject, who's de facto considered in state of detention; violation of house arrest terms are immediately followed by transfer in a correctional facility. House arrests can not be applied to a subject that has been found guilty of escape within the previous five years.
- At sentencing the judge can grant offenders who receive a short-term sentence (two years or less) leave to apply for home detention. This is called front-end home detention – i.e. it is applied for at the beginning of a sentence. If it is deferred by the judge, an offender has two weeks to apply, during which time they will be granted bail. Offenders serving long-term sentences can apply for back-end home detention five months before their Parole Eligibility Date, though, if granted, they won’t be released until three months before their PED.
- Shehu Shagari, President of Nigeria was placed under house arrest on December 31, 1983, following a military coup which ousted his government (see: Nigerian Second Republic).
- General Muhammadu Buhari, Military Head of State was confined to his residence following the palace coup which ejected him from office.
- MKO Abiola, was placed under house arrest after he declared himself the rightful winner of the 1993 presidential elections, against the wishes of the Ibrahim Babangida military junta. He was detained for five years till his death in 1998.
- Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 9th Prime minister and 4th President of Pakistan. He was deposed in 1977 in a military coup — Operation Fair Play — led by Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Bhutto was put to trial and hanged later in 1979.
- Navaz Sharif, 12th Prime minister. Sharif was deposed in 1999 in a similar military coup led by Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Pervez Musharraf. Sharif was put in a forced trial, but due to foreign pressure exerted by Saudi Arabia and the United States, Sharif was exiled to Saudi Arabia which narrowly spared his life to face the same fate as of Bhutto. In 2010, Sharif was again put in house arrest by President Asif Ali Zardari when he announced a long march to support the Lawyers' Movement. However, Sharif broke the house arrest in his vehicle and drove to Islamabad to join the Movement.
- Imran Khan, former captain of Pakistan cricket team and chairman of Pakistan Movement of Justice (PTI) was placed under house arrest at the declaration of a state of emergency by Chief of Army Staff General Pervaz Musharraf on November 3, 2007.
- Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief Justice of Pakistan, was put under house arrest on November 3, 2007 by General Pervaz Musharraf. His arrest led to mass protest and Lawyers' Movement.
- Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's top scientist and founder of Pakistan's Gas-centrifuge programme of the Pakistan's nuclear device was also put under house arrest for a long time by General Pervez Musharraf. Khan was forced to attend continuous military debriefings by Musharraf and was put in house arrest for a long time. Later, he was released from imprisonment in 2008 by the order of Islamabad High Court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Although the order has not been fully acted upon, he is legally out of under house arrest.
Roman Catholic Church
- Galileo Galilei was put under house arrest for his belief in Copernicus's theory of the sun in the middle of the universe and all the planets and stars revolving around it. He stayed under house arrest until 1642 when he died.
- Chia Thye Poh, former leftist Member of Parliament, was arrested without charges and held under detention without trial in 1966. 22 years later, he was released and placed under house arrest in a guardhouse on the resort island of Sentosa and made to pay the rent, on the pretext that he was now a "free" man.
- Bram Fischer, former South African Communist Party leader, was diagnosed with cancer while in prison and was placed under house arrest due to pressure from the anti-apartheid groups.
- Former Premier Nikita Khrushchev was placed under house arrest for the seven years before his death after being deposed in 1964.
- Habib Bourguiba, Former President of Tunisia. He was deposed in a military coup in 1987.
- Muhammad VIII al-Amin, former king of Tunisia, he was deposed in 1957 by Habib Bourguiba.
- Provision to detain terrorist suspects under house arrest without trial has been made possible by the controversial Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005.
- William Calley, U.S. Army officer responsible for the My Lai massacre, served 3½ years of house arrest after presidential clemency instead of his original sentence of life imprisonment.
- Riddick Bowe, a former boxing champion, was sentenced to be under brief house arrest after being released from prison.
- Lionel Tate was sentenced under one-year house arrest under the terms of the plea bargain offered in January 2004.
- Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months of house arrest following her release from prison on March 4, 2005.
- Debra Lafave, a former middle-school teacher, was sentenced to house arrest on November 22, 2005 for having sex with a 14-year-old pupil.
- Paris Hilton, an heiress and socialite, was re-assigned to house arrest on June 7, 2007, but was ordered back to prison on June 8, 2007 to serve the remainder of her 45-day sentence for violating probation from a prior DUI conviction.
- Dr. Dre, one of the founding fathers of gangsta rap and former member of the influential hip-hop group N.W.A, was sentenced to a house arrest after breaking the jaw of a record producer. He told VH1's Behind the Music, "The walls started to cave in on me."
- T.I., an American rapper and co-CEO of Grand Hustle Records, was sentenced to house arrest after gun charges.
- Michael Vick, Former Atlanta Falcons quarterback, was okayed for transition to home confinement from his federal incarceration on February 26, 2009.
- John G. Rowland, former governor of Connecticut, spent four months under house arrest after serving 10 months in federal prison for corruption while in office.
- Bernard Madoff, after his Ponzi scheme was discovered, and $50 billion went missing.
- Donte Stallworth, an NFL wide receiver, was sentenced on June 16, 2009 to two years house arrest for killing a pedestrian with his vehicle due to driving while intoxicated in Miami, Florida.
- Adrian Lamo, served six months house arrest following his convictions for hacking into The New York Times and Microsoft.
- Lil Boosie, A rapper was sentenced to house arrest while awaiting trial.
- Lindsay Lohan in 2011, is serving house arrest for violating her probation.
- Dominique Strauss-Kahn was held under house arrest on bail as an alternative to detention at Riker's Island before his trial for sexual assault. Upon the discovery of new evidence, Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on 1 July 2011.
In popular culture
- Juliet Lapidos (January 28, 2009). "You're Grounded!How do you qualify for house arrest?". Slate Magazine.
- Levinson, David. (2002). Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment: Volumes I-IV. SAGE Publications. p. 859. ISBN 978-0-7619-2258-2
- Spohn, Cassia. (2008). How Do Judges Decide?: The Search for Fairness and Justice in Punishment. SAGE Publications Inc. p. 52. ISBN 978-1-4129-6104-2
- See for example
- Mele, Christopher. (2005). Civil penalties, social consequences. Routledge. p. 139. ISBN 978-0-415-94823-4
- Jupp, James; Nieuwenhuysen, John; Dawson, Emma. (2007). Social Cohesion in Australia. Cambridge University Press. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-521-70943-9
- Q&A: Terrorism laws. BBC News Online. July 3, 2006
- Marshall, Andrew (2009-08-11). "Burma Court Finds Aung San Suu Kyi Guilty". TIME. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
- Tatlow, Didi Kirsten (March 9, 2011). "Out of Jail in China, but Not Free". The New York Times.
- "Iran releases dissident cleric". BBC News. 30 January 2003. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
- "Dissident Ayatollah Demands Iran's Rulers Be Elected". FOX News. Associated Press. 2003-09-17. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
- Background note: Nigeria. U.S. Department of State
- Anti-terrorism law row rumbles on. BBC News Online. March 12, 2005
- "Ex-IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn freed without bail". BBC News. 1 July 2011. Retrieved 1 July 2011.