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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 his or her residence. Travel is usually restricted, if allowed at all. House arrest is a lenient alternative to prison time or juvenile-detention time.
While house arrest can be applied to common 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 means of communication. If electronic communication is allowed, conversations will most likely be monitored.
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. Some terms can require the convict to be inside his or her private residence no matter what. Others allow for certain exceptions, such as being allowed movement in as much as functions for the court or the prisoner's essentials. Examples of such movement can include visits to the probation officer or police station, or being allowed to go to the office of a doctor or dentist. Some house arrests also permit the convict to frequent gymnasiums to keep their health up, as most prisons do have gyms and recreational areas included within their walls. Another house arrest option is to allow the prisoner to frequent shops and supermarkets on the basis that it is necessary to resupply the house periodically.
Nowadays, in technologically advanced countries, house arrest is often enforced with the use of an electronic sensor locked to the offender's ankle (called an ankle monitor). If the subject and the sensor venture too far from the home, the violation is recorded and the proper authorities are summoned. The electronic surveillance together with frequent contact with their probation officer and checks by the security guards provides for a secure environment. To discourage tampering, many ankle monitors can now detect attempted removal.