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A Better Partnership
September 16, 2012

COA Opinion: Electronic monitoring work-release program does not fulfill mandatory 30-day jail sentence

In People v. Pennebaker, the Michigan Court of Appeals considered whether a work-release program that required monitoring by electronic tether satisfied the mandatory minimum 30-day jail sentence required for a second offense of operating a vehicle while intoxicated with an occupant under the age of 16. The statute (MCL 257.625(7)(a)(ii)) required either a one- to five-year sentence in prison or a 30-day to one-year county jail term with probation and community service, and further specified that the term of imprisonment could not be suspended. The defendant pleaded guilty to her second offense, and the trial court sentenced her to 30 days of work-release with monitoring by the sheriff's department by electronic tether. The Court of Appeals reversed, concluding that the statute clearly mandated the minimum sentence be served in the county jail, and the placement of an electronic monitor on the defendant is not imprisonment in a jail. The court also took 'judicial notice of the significant problem of jail overcrowding in many of Michigan's counties,' and 'recognize[d] the good efforts of the sheriff's department in taking affirmative and conscientious steps to alleviate this burden on both law enforcement and the taxpaying community,' but noted that it is for the Legislature alone to alter the minimum and maximum punishment for a crime.

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