In justice and law, house arrest (also called home confinement, home detention, or, in modern times, electronic monitoring) is a measure by which a person is confined by the authorities to their residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all. House arrest is an alternative to being in a prison while awaiting trial or after sentencing.
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 these cases, the person under house arrest often does not have access to any means of communication with people outside of the home; if electronic communication is allowed, conversations may be monitored.
Judges have imposed sentences of home confinement, as an alternative to prison, as far back as the 17th century. Galileo was confined to his home following his infamous trial in 1633. Authorities often used house arrest to confine political leaders who were deposed in a coup d'état, but this method was not widely used to confine numerous common criminals.
This method did not become a widespread alternative to imprisonment in the United States and other western countries until the late 20th century, when newly designed electronic monitoring devices made it inexpensive and easy to manage by corrections authorities. Although Boston was using house arrest for a variety of arrangements, the first-ever court sentence of house arrest with an electronic bracelet was in 1983.
Home detention is an alternative to imprisonment; its goals are both to reduce recidivism and to decrease the number of prisoners, thereby saving money for states and other jurisdictions. It is a corrective to mandatory sentencing laws that greatly increased the incarceration rates in the United States. 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 most programs allow employed offenders to continue to work, and confine them to their residence only during non-working hours. Offenders are commonly allowed to leave their home for specific purposes; examples can include visits to the probation officer or police station, religious services, education, attorney visits, court appearances, and medical appointments. Many programs also allow the convict to leave their residence during regular, pre-approved times in order to carry out general household errands, such as food shopping and laundry. Offenders may 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.
The types of house arrest vary in severity according 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 requires an offender to remain at home at all times, apart from the above-mentioned exceptions. The most serious level of house arrest is "home incarceration", under which an offender is restricted to their residence 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except for court-approved treatment programs, court appearances, and medical appointments.
In some exceptional cases, it is possible for a person to be placed under house arrest without trial or legal representation, and subject to restrictions on their associates. In some countries this type of detention without trial has been criticized for breaching the offender's human right to a fair trial. In countries with authoritarian systems of government, the government may use such measures to stifle dissent.
Using technology for enforcement
In some countries, house arrest is enforced through the use of technology products or services. One method is an electronic sensor locked around the offender's ankle (technically called an ankle monitor, also referred to as a tether). The electronic sensor transmits an RF signal to a base handset. The base handset is connected to a police station or for-profit monitoring service.
If the offender goes too far from their home, the violation is recorded, and the police will be notified. To discourage tampering, many ankle monitors detect attempted removal. The monitoring service is often contracted out to private companies, which assign employees to electronically monitor many convicts simultaneously. If a violation occurs the unit signals the office or officer in charge immediately, depending on the severity of the violation. The officer will either call or verify the participant's whereabouts. The monitoring service notifies a 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. The respondent's answer is recorded and compared automatically 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. In many states or jurisdictions, the convict is often required to pay for the monitoring as part of his or her sentence.
Derryn Hinch, New Zealand media personality based in Melbourne, Australia; he was placed under house arrest for five months for breaching gag orders by naming two sex offenders.
Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and leader of her country's pro-democracy movement, was punished with house arrest for most of the period from July 1989 to November 2010. After being released from her initial confinement after six years in 1995, she was convicted again and imprisoned in 2000. Two years later, she was again released. She was convicted and jailed for the third time under house arrest for her criticism of the government following the infamous Depayin Massacre in 2003. After her 14th year of prison, she was released to her dilapidated home in Rangoonhe. She had to serve another 18 months in prison, convicted by a Burmese regional court in August 2009 after an American swam across Inya Lake to her house. The United Nations has declared all of her periods under house arrest as arbitrary and unjust. She was released on 13 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. Following his son-in-law's effort to regain power, Ne Win was sentenced to house arrest in 2001, serving until he died in December 2002.
Pol Pot, former Premier of Cambodia. He was deposed when Vietnam attacked Cambodia in order to overthrow his genocidal regime in 1978.
The last Hawaiian queen Liliuokalani persuaded leaders of the Republic of Hawaii to commute her prison sentence to house arrest. She was confined to an upstairs bedroom of Iolani Palace until she was released in 1896.
The pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai was granted bail by High Court of Hong Kong pending trial for charges under the Hong Kong national security law. The conditions for his bail included a term prohibiting Lai from leaving his residence except going to police station and court. It implied that Lai was put under a de facto house arrest.
Googoosh is a famous Iranian singer and actress. After the Iranian 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, house arrest (in Italian arresti domiciliari) is a common practice of detaining suspects, as an 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 does not allow residence in a correctional facility, except some particular cases of extremely dangerous persons. As per article 284 of the Italian Penal Procedure Code, house arrest is imposed by a judge, who orders the suspect to stay confined in their house, home, residence, private property, or any other place of cure or assistance where they 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 them or those who assist them. If the subject is unable to take care of their life necessities or if they are in conditions of absolute poverty, the judge may authorize them to leave their 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 whether the subject, who is de facto considered in state of detention, is complying with the order; violation of house arrest terms is immediately followed by transfer to a correctional facility. House arrests cannot be applied to a subject that has been found guilty of escape within the previous five years.
Erich Priebke, former SS captain, condemned for war crimes (Ardeatine massacre in Rome on 24 March 1944, when 335 Italian civilians were killed by Nazi force of occupation) to life imprisonment in 1996, spent under house arrest for the last part of his life, from 1998 to 2013 (when he died age of 100).
Adriano Sofri, journalist and former far left political leader, convicted in 1997 for the murder of Police Officer Luigi Calabresi (1972), spent under house arrest, for health reasons, the period between 2005 and 2012.
Giovanni Scattone and Salvatore Ferraro, convicted for manslaughter of Marta Russo, spent a period of their sentence under house arrest and community service.
At sentencing, the judge may sentence an offender to home detention where they would otherwise receive a short-term prison sentence (i.e. two years or less). Home detention sentences range from 14 days and 12 months; offenders are confined to their approved residence 24 hours a day and may only leave with the permission of their probation officer.
Electronic monitoring equipment is extensively used by the New Zealand Department of Corrections to ensure that convicted offenders subject to home detention remain within approved areas. This takes the form of a Global Positioning System tracker fitted to the offender's ankle and monitoring units located at their residence and place of employment. As of 2015[update] over three thousand persons were serving home detention sentences under GPS surveillance.
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's top scientist and founder of Pakistan's Gas-centrifuge program 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.
Roman Catholic Church
Galileo Galilei was put under house arrest for his advocacy for Copernicus's theory of the Sun in the middle of the universe and the Earth in motion about the Sun. He stayed under house arrest from 1634 until his death in 1642.
Chia Thye Poh, a former leftist populist Member of Parliament, was arrested without charges and held under detention without trial between 1966 and 1989 under the Internal Security Act for allegedly conducting pro-communist activities against the government, with the intention of causing a communist revolution. 22 years later, he was released and placed under house arrest for another nine years 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. All restrictions were eventually lifted in 1998.
House arrest was a common tool of the South African apartheid government, used to silence their opponents, along with banning orders.
Helen Joseph was the first person put under house arrest, on 13 October 1962, and was not released until a cancer diagnosis in 1971.
6ix9ine, a rapper known for "Gummo", and Day69. He was released from his 2-year prison sentence for racketeering and drug trafficking, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and was placed in house arrest until November 2020.
Sami Al-Arian, a Professor and prominent advocate for human rights, named by Newsweek as a "premier civil rights activist" for his efforts to repeal the use of secret evidence in trials, was held under house arrest in Northern Virginia from 2008 until 2014 when federal prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss charges against him. Dr. Al-Arian had visited the White House several times, had met Bill and Hillary Clinton, and had met and campaigned for George W. Bush.
William Calley, U.S. Army officer responsible for the My Lai massacre, served 3+1⁄2 years under house arrest when the president commuted his original sentence of life imprisonment.
Dr. Dre (born Andre Romelle Young), one of the founding fathers of gangsta rap and former member of the influential hip-hop group N.W.A, was sentenced to house arrest after being convicted of assaulting a record producer.
Rodney King, motorist who served a short sentence under house arrest for reckless driving.
Debra Lafave, a former middle-school teacher, was sentenced to house arrest on November 22, 2005, for raping a 14-year-old student.
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.
Jerry Sandusky, former college football coach, spent 10 months under house arrest during his sex abuse trial. He was placed on house arrest in December 2011 after he posted $250,000 bail on the sex abuse charges, because a judge ruled that he was too dangerous to be outside his home. Sandusky caused public concern, as his backyard bordered a school playground, and he was often seen on his back porch watching school kids play during break times, which many found inappropriate for a man who was awaiting trial on charges of abusing children. Sandusky was convicted of the charges in June 2012, but remained on house arrest until his sentencing on October 9, 2012, when he was sentenced to a prison term of 30 to 60 years, a practical life sentence. Sandusky was not given credit for the time he served under house arrest, meaning his earliest possible release date is exactly 30 years from the day of his sentencing.
Norman Whitfield, former Motown producer and songwriter, was convicted in 2005 of tax evasion for failing to report more than $4 million worth of royalties to the Internal Revenue Service, fined $25,000 and sentenced to six months under house arrest in lieu of jail time because of health issues, including diabetes. Whitfield died of diabetes three years later.
Tay-K (born Tamar McIntyre), an American rapper, was sentenced to house arrest while awaiting trial for capital murder and aggravated burglary charges. He somehow cut off his ankle monitor and fled from his hometown of Arlington, Texas to Elizabeth, New Jersey to spend some time in a recording studio, recording his biggest hit single to date (while remaining a fugitive), "The Race", prior to his recent capture in June 2017 for violating his house arrest terms.
Austin Jones, American former YouTuber and singer placed on home confinement three days after he was arrested on June 12, 2017, for producing child pornography. As a part of his release, he was barred from using the Internet and social media while he awaits trial.
Aloysius Stepinac, Cardinal Archbishop of Zagreb sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for collaboration with the NDH regime, was released to house arrest after five years.