TUCSON, Ariz. — Big changes are already underway at the Pima County jail after Sheriff Chris Nanos took over at the beginning of the year.
The first big change was the end of a year's long work-release program. Now, Sheriff Nanos is pushing for more ankle monitors to keep the spirit of that program alive.
Sheriff Nanos said it costs $127 per day to keep an inmate in jail. Comparatively, it costs about $11 per day to have someone monitored via an ankle bracelet.
He says both programs accomplish the same goal; punishing people who break the law without negatively affecting their families.
"We don't want to see you lose your job because you've done something you shouldn't have done," Nanos said. "We want you to be held accountable but we also want to make sure your family and you aren't a bigger burden."
Sheriff Nanos said ankle bracelets also give an added layer of security to the process because a deputy can make sure the inmates are where they're supposed to be at all times.
"If I release you in the morning and have you come back every evening where's the security in that?" Nanos said. "I don't have the ability to follow you to work every day -- 200 inmates who are part of our work-release program."
This is all part of a larger push to keep non-violent offenders out of jails.
"Low level non-violent misdemeanors that we can monitor in a safer and more economical way, then why wouldn't we do that?" Nanos said.
Sheriff Nanos said he's also working with Pima County health officials to address the underlying causes of minor crimes such as mental health or addiction issues.
And he's working within his own department to make sure all their resources are being used as wisely as possible.
That includes an extensive study on when and where hiring will be most effective.
"It's really just about finding a way to be better and more efficient in the way we do our jobs, looking at problems in a different light and finding those solutions," Nanos said.
Sheriff Nanos said hiring is on the horizon for the department after that study has been completed.