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What is House Arrest?

Diana Bocco
Updated May 23, 2024
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House arrest, also known as electronic monitoring or home detention, is the legal term used to define a penalty imposed by law to a person who committed a crime and is condemned to stay inside his house. Home arrest is an alternative to jail time, often used for minor crimes or for teenagers who cannot be taken to an adult correctional facility. House arrest is also an option in places where the cost of maintaining a prisoner has escalated to a point where the government cannot longer sustain additional inmates. In any case, only minor offenses can be punished with house arrest, as major crimes always require jail time.

People confined to house arrest wear an ankle monitor, a special electronic device that transmits a GPS signal to a base handset. This handset is connected to police central headquarters, and notifies the authorities automatically if the wearer moves outside of his allowed range. House arrest may or may not include backyards or gardens, depending on the arrangements made by the authorities. House arrest may also allow for "breaks," where prisoners are allowed to attend certain activities or places, such as regular visits to the doctor or to a local grocery store. In those cases, the ankle monitor is disconnected temporarily or reprogrammed so it allows the wearer to move a certain distance without breaking the rules.

Many former presidents have been confined to house arrest for crimes against their countries, including Ahmed Ben Bella (Algeria), Rafael Videla (Argentina), Pol Pot (Cambodia), Shehu Shagari (Nigeria), and Habib Bourguiba (Tunisia). In the United States, house arrest is sometimes imposed after people have been released from prison. Martha Stewart spent five months in house arrest after spending a year in prison.

House arrest is sometimes criticized because it seems to offer an easy way out to punishment. People under house arrest have access to all comforts of home life, including use of appliances, telephone, and Internet. It also allows them to continue a rather normal life. Critics argue that most people under house arrest will quickly forget that they are being punished, which in turn will negate the benefits of the program.

Historical Index is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Diana Bocco
By Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various businesses. With a data-focused approach and a talent for sharing engaging stories, Diana’s written work gets noticed and drives results.
Discussion Comments
By anon984121 — On Jan 06, 2015

If two are on house arrest and have the bracelets on their ankle and the monitoring box inside their home, will they be able to tell if the other person is at your house? Will it send a signal letting them know?

By anon949951 — On May 07, 2014

My husband was sentenced to three years in prison, but it was dropped down to 18 months for a non-violent crime. Will he be able to get on house arrest, and how soon could be possibly get it?

By anon933599 — On Feb 16, 2014

I am a paraplegic. I have four prior drug charges. However, I haven't been to jail in nine years. I was recently charged as a felon in possession of a firearm and ammunition. I was not on probation at the time and it was not a violent crime, just possession. They are offering six months with five year felony probation. Do I qualify for house arrest since I am disabled and require medical attention?

By anon926337 — On Jan 18, 2014

My son is home confined in Florida and the court is requiring we remove all internet services from home. I have three daughters studying. What can I do to appeal? Is there any way they will allow my daughters to have access to Internet for homework purposes only while my son is home?

By emilyemilyhh — On Dec 27, 2013

I am going to county jail soon and I would like to know if I would be able to go home to my apartment on the bracelet if my husband (who has a record) lives there.

He's not on probation or anything, but he just got out a couple weeks ago. I know there are other considerations, but I just want to know if they allow spouses to go home on the bracelet to spouses with records. I'm in Massachusetts.

By anon357196 — On Dec 02, 2013

My house arrest is through the feds. I just came home and I have six months to do on house arrest. Question: do all boxes come with the gps on it? I can go out from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. If I go somewhere I'm not supposed to be, will it show, even if I'm supposed to be outside?

By aquima21 — On Nov 23, 2013

Do you have to show them your occupancy permit when they put you on house arrest?

By anon335355 — On May 20, 2013

Does anyone have any advice for maintaining a relationship while my boyfriend is on house arrest in our house? I never have privacy! I'm worried I'll resent him.

By anon326145 — On Mar 20, 2013

Does everyone on house arrest wears a monitoring device?

By anon316626 — On Jan 29, 2013

My fiance just started house arrest today after a long, drawn out process. He was only supposed to serve a total of 11-23 months with 90 days of that in a half-way house. We are supposed to get married this summer.

We have a large house with a lot of property, and I was thinking that we can just have the wedding at the house. He doesn't drink anyway, so what's the big deal? Do you think that would be O.K. or that they would find out??

By anon311924 — On Jan 04, 2013

My ex boyfriend, who is my daughter's father got placed on house arrest and we got into an argument and he left. He cut off the bracelet and threw it somewhere. Then I received a call saying I'm responsible for this $,1800 box. They then had to go find it when the battery was dying but they finally found it in the middle of nowhere.

He tells them he will pay extra fees or whatever if they don't report it, and now it's been a week later and he's still free. He got this sentence after having four DUI's and then driving on a suspended license. The judge gave him house arrest for two months.

I think the law is screwed up. He should be back in jail, but they're going to wait until he's drinking and driving again and kills someone else. He hasn't learned anything. He's still an alcoholic.

By anon302109 — On Nov 07, 2012

I've been on home arrest since last Thursday. Sunday night or early Monday morning (12:30 am), I woke up to use the bathroom and realized I started my period, so I drove down the street to buy some tampons. I do not have a phone so I was unable to call my probation officer, but I saved my receipt. I was gone a total of 10, no more than 15 minutes. My question is: do you think when I report today for my weekly check in, I'm going to be violated and taken into custody? I am currently serving a 90-day probation violation for an arrest on a case that was dismissed.

I have been on probation since January 2009 and have had no prior violations, arrests, or dirty tests. I'm scheduled to get off probation in February 2013.

By anon295545 — On Oct 06, 2012

I'm on house arrest for five whole years. Imagine how I feel. I'm hoping there's a way I can get off early.

By anon294487 — On Oct 01, 2012

I am on house arrest and so is my friend. He has a free day and he wants to come hang out with me. Will it affect my box if he comes over with his bracelet on too?

By anon288132 — On Aug 28, 2012

My neighbor is under house arrest and it's unbelievable. She lays out tanning all day, drinking, has multiple friends stopping by all the time and boy do they party. She has two different guys who take turns spending the day and night. I don't think this is what they had in mind when they started using this method.

By anon284624 — On Aug 10, 2012

I seriously doubt most people would forget they are being punished under house arrest.

One screw up and you're likely going back to the big house, though I wonder what happens if the equipment malfunctions where you're the inmate the ankle monitor sacrifices it's life on?

Also, I wonder if the ankle bracelets are made with parts from the USA or overseas from China like most everything else, sadly?

By anon280623 — On Jul 18, 2012

@anon179430: I just got on house arrest for driving under suspension. The district judge gave me 30 days in jail and I appealed for house arrest, thinking I'd get the same amount of time for house arrest, but the county judge gave me 120 days on house arrest. I sort of wish I would've taken the 30 days last fall. Just something to think about.

By anon272738 — On Jun 03, 2012

My friend is 17 and on house arrest. But I don't know if he's allowed to use the phone. He won't answer his cell, so I'm guessing they took it away.

I've read different things, but can't get a definite answer. In the thing about him in the paper, it said he couldn't contact the parties involved, and I wasn't involved. But I want to call to see if he's okay. Is using a house phone allowed?

By anon265979 — On May 03, 2012

People don't fully enjoy the comforts of living at home while on house arrest. They are limited as to how long they are allowed to be online and on the phone. The modem has a box like a router but specially designed for house arrest which beeps to inform you to log off. If you don't, the police may come to your house and speak with you.

By anon257963 — On Mar 29, 2012

To Anon: yes, you can be on a monitor without a landline. I'm sorry about your situation. Just do right and hopefully things will start to look up for you.

For the other person about the boyfriend living with you, it will be a problem if he or you are both felons. But if you're not, then it just determines if your house arrest officer will allow it. Hope this helps you.

By anon256468 — On Mar 21, 2012

Is the house arrest time equal to the jail time?

By anon252417 — On Mar 05, 2012

I've been on house arrest for four months, violated it, went to a group home along with the same house arrest bracelet, cut the ankle bracelet off and went to DCYC for seven months. I got on on a tracker device and have been on ankle bracelet since then. Forget the system.

By anon252008 — On Mar 03, 2012

What's one of the most common ways to get on house arrest, for like two or three months? My cousin is on house arrest for three months. I'm just curious what he may have done.

By anon250415 — On Feb 25, 2012

If I'm on electronic monitoring, how long can I serve in jail to get this off me? I'm not a stay in the house type person. I'd rather go to jail and go home. I'm in a state I don't like.

By anon241318 — On Jan 18, 2012

I am 17 and currently on house arrest. I have no landline. Can they still put a monitor on me?

By anon235193 — On Dec 16, 2011

@anon164641: I am so sorry that happened to your son. I think to even punish you at all was a slap in the face, and then to give you more time than the offender? What does that say about the justice system?

I am studying house arrest for my criminal justice class, and that's how I came across your post. As a mother of seven, I feel your frustration and that the sick person you beat the crap out of is lucky that's all you did to him. Hope everything works out for the best. For the rapist, if he is not punished by the system, he will be by life and karma.

By anon233282 — On Dec 05, 2011

I've been on house arrest. For three months I haven't used and I have a three-month-old daughter who was born in prison.

My probation officer doesn't like me going out to look for a job or take her to the doctor. I called today to ask if I could take her and he said no. I have proof of everywhere I go. I also know this girl who has the same probation officer and she is also on house arrest. He lets her go job seeking and to church and to AA meetings, and when I have ask to do the same, he tells me house arrest means I am to stay at the house.

Am I seeing this wrong or am I being treated unfairly?

By anon230353 — On Nov 18, 2011

I just got sentenced to house arrest and I am a drug addict. I have been on suboxone for a long time. I was prescribed it, but no longer have medical insurance and I couldn't afford it, so now I buy it off the streets and stocked up, thinking it would last me through my house arrest.

Now I'm being told that they drug test for suboxone. This is only my third day and I'm freaking out because I can't get off it yet. I already told them I don't take anything, and will go to jail if I fail!

What do i do, and don't say get off it, because I know that. I'm going to get tested before I can do that or get it out of my system.

By anon204879 — On Aug 10, 2011

I got in a fight with an officer. How long am I going to be on house arrest for? This is my first felony.

By anon179430 — On May 23, 2011

I am possibly looking at house arrest for a driving under suspension after I pled guilty to a DUI. The crown is asking for 21 days in jail, but i was old i might just get house arrest. So my question to anyone out there who may know is: Will I be looking at a long sentence on house arrest then I would be in jail? if so how much longer?

By anon164641 — On Apr 01, 2011

i got 18 month house arrest for beating the hell out of a 17 year old registered sex offender. he raped my nine year old boy. what a joke. the rapist only got six months house arrest. How long will I stay in jail if I go to jail instead of house arrest?

By anon163119 — On Mar 26, 2011

My ex-wife's daughter, who is 15, received an ankle bracelet. What type of crime did she commit to get an ankle bracelet? Just curious.

By anon161411 — On Mar 19, 2011

My husband is a active duty marine and I am on an ankle bracelet. He will get orders in the middle of the time I need to do. You think they can transfer that to a different state?

By anon153279 — On Feb 16, 2011

when you have done the time the judge ordered with probation to follow, then why the house arrest? Is this not doing time twice?

By anon130095 — On Nov 27, 2010

I am on house arrest. I got 178 days for punching a guy in the face who made repeated obscene gestures to my two young teen daughters. When I asked him to apologize he laughed. He did not laugh as hard as I did when I punched him in the face and dropped him like rock.

The Judge got irritated when he asked me if I was sorry for the damage I caused to his face and I said "no, your honor, absolutely not and I would do it again if needed".

I would rather do house arrest than let my daughters believe it's OK to let people show disrespect and have zero legal action taken. Please give me your thoughts.

Thank you.

By anon126616 — On Nov 13, 2010

I was just put on probation and I had a OWI and a habitual traffic violation that I am about to go to court on I just got my first D felony. They want to give me 18 months house arrest. will the driving give me a violation on my probation?

I am so tired of being not able to drive. What is the world coming to? The courts don't care; they just want money.

I am mentally ill and I did not realize I could not take my own medication and drive and at the time I didn't think I was doing anything wrong I wanted to just practice driving so I could get my license back.

I was in a manic phase of bipolar. It has already been six years and now it will be another 10 years before I can get my license again!

By anon106697 — On Aug 26, 2010

I've got an idea: don't commit a crime! People are complaining about the lack of freedom when on house arrest. You've got to be kidding me, or you're just really stupid. Anyway, welcome back to the community, we need more people with pretty black ankle bracelets.

The best post I read on here was, "Can my boyfriend and I be in the same house at the same time with our ankle monitors on?" Oh my god that's awesome, what a couple. Future Mr. President and first lady? Probably not. Picking up trash on the side of the highway, with a bright orange jumpsuit, yup!

By anon100278 — On Jul 29, 2010

i hear the guy talking about the no exercise and lack of social skills. I can't go to a store anymore, just five minutes, tops and I'm panicked and want to go home. I shake and can't sleep because i do nothing all day to burn energy.

I see cops going up my street and I'm paranoid that it's for me. This "house arrest" stinks. i did two years in the pen and at least there are people around and even at night someone is there.

Friends forget about you when you can't move from your house. Does anyone know if i cash in my house arrest for time, how much i will do? I have one year left and one year down.

By anon99012 — On Jul 24, 2010

Hey I live in upstate N.Y. and I'm on house arrest. I was wondering how far can you go from the black box? Can you go in the yard? Like what if I needed to take the garbage out or something? Thank you.

By anon93013 — On Jul 01, 2010

I am on house arrest in Las Vegas using the GS4 system. I have scheduled time out from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. I report every two weeks and have to provide receipts or business cards, etc. Does anyone know if the system really knows exactly where I am when I'm out or just "out of bounds"?

By anon86176 — On May 24, 2010

anon63055 has posted thoughtful advice that anyone can benefit from. The advice, and the concepts behind it,have helped me improve my attitude toward my incarcerated loved one. I suggest reading anon63055's comments. They may help you, too.

By anon86126 — On May 24, 2010

i just did five years in prison. The the parole board granted parole and the parole officer decided this stipulation the board then agreed. I'm at my parents' house, but they're going to move out of the country in two months. what am i going to do? can i be homeless? if i were, will they let me off? They also told me if i fail to pay, i go back. how can they do that? It's really hard to find a job right now. Thanks.

By smilingurl — On Apr 21, 2010

Can me and my boyfriend be on house arrest in the same house at the same time?

By anon78364 — On Apr 18, 2010

well from what I have seen in my case is house arrest in Mo is a joke. my daughter's boyfriend goes out all the time and is going on a picnic today so I don't see how it is affecting him, except he can't get drunk or he has to pay to wear it.

By anon73620 — On Mar 28, 2010

I have been on house arrest for over three years. I haven't been tried. The 'comforts' that supposedly 'let me continue a rather normal life' is a false statement. The health implications of no exercise, the stress day in and day out, the insomnia.

I've lost my social skills, I shake when I see a cop car, and I haven't done anything wrong. Critics are mostly people who feel their opinions are of great value when most often their life experience would contradict that belief.

By anon73321 — On Mar 26, 2010

I was told that a new law passed this year that says each day on house arrest is as two days. The same as jail time would be. Is there any fact to that?

By anon71599 — On Mar 19, 2010

If you family are felons you just inform your PO.

in my case, my brother being one was not a big deal. He was no longer on probation.

They know you are going to see family members and people who live with you.

By anon69290 — On Mar 07, 2010

Forget house arrest. I've been on it for six months and have another six to go, all for selling a harmless plant. I was not allowed any time off for the first four months, then i started college and i get exactly enough time to get to and from class. The worst part i would say is the cost to be on an ankle bracelet.

By anon67080 — On Feb 23, 2010

I'm 16 and I'm on the ankle monitor for failing drug tests and saying forget you to a judge while detained for a six month period.

I'm on house arrest for six months. My probation officer downloads my information every couple of days and it shows me as a little dot on a screen and she just makes sure i don't go anywhere i wasn't supposed to, and if i do then it becomes a violation and i get detained the following monday at drug court and i start drug court over and my 12 months of probation and six months of house arrest starts over.

i think it stinks and honestly sometimes would rather go to jail for three months then be on house arrest for six months.

By anon65386 — On Feb 12, 2010

I got it good! I'm on house arrest for 6-11 months, but i can come outside between the hours of 9:30 a.m.-7:3O p.m. Sunday-Saturday (due to work). I thank god for that freedom!

By anon64207 — On Feb 05, 2010

I managed to take mine off and left it at my house, and they didn't even notice it was removed. that's how much i don't care for the authority, and know ways how to cheat them.

By anon63055 — On Jan 30, 2010

Dear friend, as for your brother and his girl friend's situation.

If you look at it in a positive way, you should support your family member and help them get through this tough time, although I understand that they don't want to do anything for themselves or have consideration for others, but as a member of a family, you and your family should have them in therapy, counseling, etc. Do not kick them out. It will only get worse, unless your and your family want to see your brother end up in prison for more serious crimes or end up at the cemetery.

we all come to this world with a mission. some people are fortunate with a great mission and some with a unfortunate mission like your brother and his girlfriend, along with many other unlucky people, and yes they make poor choices, but we all do something for a reason. everything we do here is for a reason why we're here. it's a mission God gave us to do. some people take the an easy way out, and people like your brother and his girlfriend have to take the hard way out,

they deserve some caring, loving, and a little respect to make them feel like they belong to the family and to the society. If you treat a criminal like a criminal, he/she will end up as a criminal, but if you treat a criminal with kindness and give them a chance to show you that he did make a mistakes but he can change, and give him a chance to make some changes.

Maybe your brother is going through some source of depression, stress, and has no meaning to want to make any progress at the moment, but please believe in me, people were born with a loving heart, their heart is still beating. In their body is real blood, they have feelings, they know what they need to do when the time is great, but we don't want to sit around and wait for them to change, but to provide them with help and treatment.

Your brother and his girlfriend need treatment with counseling, and if they have a drug addiction, they need to get medical treatment for that. Only professional treatment can help them. Playing your own doctor is not going to help. These people won't fall for that.

They need to be treated, and counseling is the best way to convince them to get treatment. However, if you and your family do all the best you can and it doesn't work, the only way to help them is to ask them to move out and to make it on their own, you can only do so much, and you can only help the ones who need and want to get help not the ones who don't want to get help.

With these people you and your family have to be patient, because only you and your family members can help bring them back.

I wish you and your family along with your brother and his girlfriend all the best and I will pray for them and for your family to help them understand the meaning of life and to make a difference to better their life and the people around them. God bless:)

By anon55297 — On Dec 06, 2009

can your 6 year old son visit you when you are under house arrest for hurting another son at 5 weeks old?

By anon52382 — On Nov 13, 2009

I have to do weekends. can I do house arrest instead?

By anon38623 — On Jul 27, 2009

am i allowed to go outside in my front yard?

By anon38134 — On Jul 23, 2009

if i do not have an ankle bracelet, can i go to the store or work

By anon11761 — On Apr 22, 2008

What can one do if one's brother is under house arrest and he has a girlfriend who is moving in with him and she is also a convicted felon? They are going to get married to get around this. They have been forced by my parents to move in with my 91 year old grandmother instead of living with my parents who have plenty of room. My grandmother pays her bills except rent and cannot afford to pay the extra bills they will make. My dad owns my grandmothers house and my worthless brother has nowhere else to live. My parents have been supporting both of these low lifes for 21/2 years. My grandmother is so upset and so am I. They refuse to do anything else. My older brother and I have offered to buy them a trailer to park on my parents land but my father refuses. My parents are about as trashy as my worthless brother. Help!

By anon1166 — On May 18, 2007

Can you be on the ankle moniter if you don't have a landline phone?

Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco
Diana Bocco, a versatile writer with a distinct voice, creates compelling long-form and short-form content for various...
Learn more
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