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House arrest

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 an 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 some electronic monitoring units, the conversations of prisoners 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 1900s. Galileo was confined to his villa following his infamous trial in the 1600s. 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.

  • 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.
  • Pol Pot Former Premier of Cambodia. He was deposed when Vietnam attacked Cambodia in 1978.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Silvia Baraldini, activist of Black Liberation Army in U.S.A. (sentenced to 43 years by Federal Court under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for conspiring to commit two armed robberies, driving a secondary getaway car during the prison break of murder convict and fellow political activist Assata Shakur, and contempt to court), transferred to Italy in 1999, was spent the sentence on house arrest from 2001 to 2006, for health reasons.
  • Giovanni Scattone and Salvatore Ferraro, convicted for manslaughter of Marta Russo, spent under house arrest and community service a period of their condamn.
  • 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 over three thousand persons were serving home detention sentences under GPS surveillance.
  • Phil Rudd, two-time drummer with Australian rock legends AC/DC, has been sentenced to eight months home detention at his waterfront mansion in Tauranga for charges relating to methamphetamine possession and making death threats.
  • 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 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.
  • Former Premier Nikita Khrushchev was placed under house arrest for the seven years before his death after being deposed in 1964.
  • Academician Andrey Sakharov was placed under house arrest in 1980 and released in 1987.
  • Riddick Bowe, a former boxing champion, was sentenced to be under brief house arrest after being released from prison.
  • 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.
  • 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 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."
  • Paris Hilton, an heiress and socialite, was reassigned 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.
  • Rodney King, who served a short sentence on house arrest for reckless driving.
  • 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.
  • Adrian Lamo, served six months house arrest following his convictions for hacking into The New York Times and Microsoft.
  • Lil Boosie (born Torrence Hatch), A rapper was sentenced to house arrest while awaiting trial.
  • Lindsay Lohan in 2011, served house arrest for violating her probation.
  • Bernard Madoff, after his Ponzi scheme was discovered, and $50 billion went missing.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months of house arrest following her release from prison on March 4, 2005.
  • 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. Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on 1 July 2011.
  • Lionel Tate was sentenced under one-year house arrest under the terms of the plea bargain offered in January 2004.
  • T.I. (born Clifford Joseph Harris), 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 approved for transition to home confinement from his federal incarceration on February 26, 2009.
  • 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 house arrest in lieu of jail time because of health issues, including diabetes. Whitfield died of diabetes three years later.
  • Aloysius Stepinac, Cardinal Archbishop of sentenced to 16 years imprisonment for collaboration with the NDH regime, was released to house arrest after five years.


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