• Marion Sheriff proposes electronic monitoring of inmates to relieve jail overcrowding


    MARION COUNTY, Fla. - The Marion County Jail currently has more than 1,400 inmates and Sheriff Chris Blair said he doesn't have enough corrections to watch them all.

    He's working on a plan to release and track some of the non-violent inmates using electronic monitoring devices. But the plan already has some Marion County residents on edge.

    "If you pose to people 'Oh, we're just going to let them out.' What do you mean by that?" resident Janet Reynolds said.

    Blair's plan is to put electronic ankle bracelets on certain inmates who are awaiting trial. He said his corrections officers have too many jail inmates to keep track of.

    "On some occasions, it could be one at a time, or there can be as many as 200 inmates," Blair said.

    The plan comes from the sheriff's intention to monitor domestic violence suspects to make sure they stay away from their alleged victims as they go through the court system.

    "There are programs out there in place with monitoring devices and it has been successful over the past 15 years. Those are the ones we'll have to look at," Blair told WFTV.

    Since the Marion County Commission has refused to provide the funding for 30-60 more corrections officers, the sheriff is looking at this option to relieve the pressure.

    "I think it's a good idea. Put an ankle monitor on them and track them, depending on the crime," resident Dave Erickson said.

    Blair is now calling on the Marion County Commission to convene a Public Safety Coordinating Council, which would include local judges, to address the jail situation.

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