In justice and law, house arrest (also called home confinement, home
detention, or, in modern times, electronic monitoring) is a measure by
which a person is confined by the authorities to a residence. Travel
is usually restricted, if allowed at all.
House arrest is an
alternative to prison time or juvenile-detention time.
While house arrest can be applied to 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 any means of
communication. If electronic communication is allowed, conversations
will most likely be monitored. With some electronic monitoring units,
the conversations of prisoners can be directly monitored via the unit
3 Using technology for enforcement
4 Notable instances
4.4 Myanmar (Burma)
4.7 People's Republic of China
4.8 Republic of China
4.14 New Zealand
4.17 Roman Catholic Church
4.19 South Africa
4.20 Soviet Union
4.22 United Kingdom
4.23 United States
5 In popular culture
6 See also
Judges have imposed sentences of home confinement, as an alternative
to prison, as far back as the 1600s.
Galileo was confined to his home
following his infamous trial in the 1600s. Political authorities have
often confined leaders to house arrest who were deposed in a coup
d'état, but this method was not widely used to confine numerous
This method did not become a widespread alternative to imprisonment in
the United States and other western countries until the late 20th
century, when newly designed electronic monitoring devices made it
inexpensive and easy to manage by corrections authorities. Although
Boston was using house arrest for a variety of arrangements, the
first-ever court sentence of house arrest with an electronic bracelet
was in 1983.
Home detention is an alternative to imprisonment; its goals are both
to reduce recidivism and to decrease the number of prisoners, thereby
saving money for states and other jurisdictions. It is a corrective to
mandatory sentencing laws that greatly increased the incarceration
rates in the United States. 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, but most programs allow employed
offenders to continue to work, and confine them to their residence
only during non-working hours. Offenders are commonly allowed to leave
their home for specific purposes; examples can include visits to the
probation officer or police station, religious services, education,
attorney visits, court appearances, and medical appointments.
Many programs also allow the convict to leave their residence during
regular, pre-approved times in order to carry out general household
errands, such as food shopping and laundry. Offenders may have to
respond to communications from a higher authority to verify that they
are at home when required to be. Exceptions are often made to allow
visitors to visit the offender.
The types of house arrest vary in severity according to the
requirements of the court order. A curfew may restrict an offender to
their house at certain times, usually during hours of darkness. "Home
confinement" or detention requires an offender to remain at home at
all times, apart from the above-mentioned exceptions. The most serious
level of house arrest is "home incarceration," under which an offender
is restricted to their residence 24 hours a day/7 days a week, except
for court-approved treatment programs, court appearances, and medical
In some exceptional cases, it is possible for a person to be placed
under house arrest without trial or legal representation, and subject
to restrictions on their associates. In some countries this type of
detention without trial has been criticized for breaching the
offender's human rights to a trial by a jury of peers. In countries
with authoritarian systems of government, the government may use such
measures to stifle dissent.
Using technology for enforcement
In some countries, house arrest is often enforced through the use of
technology products or services. One method is an electronic sensor
locked around the offender's ankle (technically called an ankle
monitor, also referred to as a tether). The electronic sensor
GPS signal to a base handset. The base handset is
connected to a police station or for-profit monitoring service.
If the offender goes too far from their home, the violation is
recorded, and the police will be notified. To discourage tampering,
many ankle monitors detect attempted removal. The monitoring service
is often contracted out to private companies, which assign employees
to electronically monitor many convicts simultaneously. If a violation
occurs the unit signals the office or officer in charge immediately,
depending on the severity of the violation. The officer will either
call or verify the participant's whereabouts. The monitoring
service notifies a convict's probation officer. The electronic
surveillance together with frequent contact with their probation
officer and checks by the security guards provides for a secure
Another method of ensuring house arrest compliance is achieved through
the use of automated calling services that require no human contact to
check on the offender. Random calls are made to the residence. The
respondent's answer is recorded and compared automatically to the
offender's voice pattern. Authorities are notified only if the call is
not answered or if the recorded answer does not match the offender's
Electronic monitoring is considered a highly economical alternative to
the cost of imprisoning offenders. In many states or jurisdictions,
the convict is often required to pay for the monitoring as part of his
or her sentence.
Ahmed Ben Bella, former President of Algeria, deposed by Houari
Boumédiènne in 1965. He was held under house arrest before being
exiled in 1980.
Jorge Videla, former
President of Argentina
President of Argentina (was held by house arrest
only for a period)
Derryn Hinch, New Zealand media personality based in Melbourne,
Australia; he was placed under house arrest for five months for
breaching gag orders by naming two sex offenders.
Aung San Suu Kyi, winner of the 1991
Nobel Peace Prize
Nobel Peace Prize and leader of
her country's pro-democracy movement, was punished with house arrest
for most of the period from July 1989 to November 2010. After being
released from her initial confinement after six years in 1995, she was
convicted again and imprisoned in 2000. Two years later, she was again
released. She was convicted and jailed for the third time under house
arrest for her criticism of the government following the infamous
Depayin Massacre in 2003. After her 14th year of prison, she was
released to her dilapidated home in Rangoonhe. She had to serve
another 18 months in prison, convicted by a Burmese regional court in
August 2009 after an American swam across
Inya Lake to her house.
The United Nations has declared all of her periods under house arrest
as arbitrary and unjust. She was released on 13 November 2010.
Ne Win, former military commander of Burma from 1962. He was believed
to be behind the coup d'état of 1988 which officially deposed him.
Following his son-in-law's effort to regain power,
Ne Win was
sentenced to house arrest in 2001, serving until he died in December
Pol Pot, former Premier of Cambodia. He was deposed when Vietnam
attacked Cambodia in 1978.
On January 5, 2005, former dictator
Augusto Pinochet was placed under
house arrest by orders of the Supreme Court of Chile.
People's Republic of China
The People's Republic of China continues to use soft detention, a
traditional form of house arrest used by the Chinese Empire.
Zhao Ziyang, purged General Secretary of the Communist Party of China,
was put under house arrest for the last 16 years of his life after the
Tiananmen Square protests of 1989. The Communist Party of China's
Central Office approved all of his movements outside his home; he was
restricted to quiet travel to different places inside China and to
Jiang Yanyong, physician who revealed
SARS incident in China. He was
put under house arrest after requesting the government to investigate
the June 4 Tiananmen incident.
Gendhun Choekyi Nyima, a reincarnation or
Tulku of the
Gelug sect of
Tibetan Buddhism was recognized by the present Dalai Lama. The Chinese
took him into custody and sentenced him to house arrest.
Republic of China
Chiang Kai-shek ordered him sentenced to house arrest
after the Xi'an Incident. Even after the Nationalists' retreat to
Taiwan, he remained in house arrest until Chiang Ching-kuo's death in
Ibn al-Haytham (Alhacen), Iraqi scientist working in Egypt. In 1011,
he feigned madness in fear of angering the Egyptian caliph Al-Hakim
bi-Amr Allah. He was kept under house arrest until the caliph's death
Muhammad Naguib, former President of Egypt. He led a military coup in
1953 and deposed the former King Farouk. He was deposed by Gamal
Nasser in 1954 and placed under house arrest.
The last Hawaiian queen
Liliuokalani persuaded leaders of the Republic
of Hawaii to commute her prison sentence to house arrest. She was
confined to an upstairs bedroom of
Iolani Palace until she was
released in 1896.
Sukarno, first President of Indonesia. He was deposed in 1967 by
Suharto (see: Transition to the New Order).
Mohammad Mosaddegh, former Premier of Iran was deposed by coup in 1953
with support of the United States. Following three years of
imprisonment, he was placed under house arrest until his
Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri
Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri was sentenced to house arrest
from 1997 to 2003.
Mehdi Karroubi, an influential Iranian reformist politician, democracy
activist, mojtahed, and chairman of the National Trust Party, Chairman
of the parliament from 1989 to 1992 and 2000 to 2004, and a
presidential candidate in the 2005 and 2009 presidential elections. He
is under house arrest from February 2011 until now.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi is an Iranian reformist politician, painter and
architect who served as the seventy-ninth and last Prime Minister of
Iran from 1981 to 1989. He was a candidate for the 2009 presidential
election. He is under house arrest from February 2011 until
Googoosh is a famous Iranian singer and actress. After the Iran
Revolution she was under a 21-year ban from performing and was assumed
to be under house arrest for much of the time.
In Italy, house arrest (in Italian arresti domiciliari) is a common
practice of detaining suspects, alternative to detention in a
correctional facility, and is also commonly practiced on those felons
who are close to the end of their prison terms, or for those whose
health condition do not allow their permanence in a correctional
facility, except some particular cases of extremely dangerous persons.
As for the article n°284 of the Italian Penal Procedure Code, the
house arrests are imposed by a Judge, who orders the suspect to stay
confined in his house, home, residence, private property, or any other
place of cure or assistance where he/she may be housed at the moment.
When necessary, the judge may also forbid any contact between the
subject and any person other than those who cohabit with him/her or
who assist him/her. If the subject is unable to take care of his/her
life necessities or if he/she is in conditions of absolute poverty,
the judge may authorize him/her to leave his/her home for the strict
necessary time to take care of said needs or to exercise a job. The
prosecuting authorities and law enforcement can check at any moment
the factive respect of said orders by the subject, who's de facto
considered in state of detention; violation of house arrest terms are
immediately followed by transfer in a correctional facility. House
arrests can not be applied to a subject that has been found guilty of
escape within the previous five years.
Erich Priebke, former SS captain, condemned for war crimes (Ardeatine
massacre in Rome on 24 March 1944, when 335 Italian civilians were
killed by Nazi force of occupation) to life imprisonment in 1996,
spent under house arrest for the last part of his life, from 1998 to
2013 (when he died age of 100).
Adriano Sofri, journalist and former far left political leader,
convicted in 1997 for the murder of Police Officer Luigi Calabresi
(1972), spent under house arrest, for health reasons, the period
between 2005 and 2012.
Silvia Baraldini, activist of
Black Liberation Army
Black Liberation Army in U.S.A.
(sentenced to 43 years by Federal Court under the Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) for conspiring to commit two
armed robberies, driving a secondary getaway car during the prison
break of murder convict and fellow political activist Assata Shakur,
and contempt to court), transferred to Italy in 1999, was spent the
sentence on house arrest from 2001 to 2006, for health reasons.
Giovanni Scattone and Salvatore Ferraro, convicted for manslaughter of
Marta Russo, spent, under house arrest and community service. a period
of their sentence.
At sentencing, the judge may sentence an offender to home detention
where they would otherwise receive a short-term prison sentence (i.e.
two years or less). Home detention sentences range from 14 days and 12
months; offenders are confined to their approved residence 24 hours a
day and may only leave with the permission of their probation officer.
Electronic monitoring equipment is extensively used by the New Zealand
Department of Corrections to ensure that convicted offenders subject
to home detention remain within approved areas. This takes the form of
a Global Positioning System tracker fitted to the offender's ankle and
monitoring units located at their residence and place of employment.
As of 2015 over three thousand persons were serving home detention
Phil Rudd, two-time drummer with Australian rock legends AC/DC, has
been sentenced to eight months home detention at his waterfront
Tauranga for charges relating to methamphetamine possession
and making death threats.
President of Nigeria
President of Nigeria was placed under house arrest on
December 31, 1983, following a military coup which ousted his
government (see: Nigerian Second Republic).
General Muhammadu Buhari, Military Head of State was confined to his
residence following the palace coup which ejected him from office.
MKO Abiola, was placed under house arrest after he declared himself
the rightful winner of the 1993 presidential elections, against the
wishes of the
Ibrahim Babangida military junta. He was detained for
five years till his death in 1998.
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 9th Prime minister and 4th President of Pakistan.
He was deposed in 1977 in a military coup —
Operation Fair Play
Operation Fair Play —
led by Chief of Army Staff General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq. Bhutto was put
to trial and hanged later in 1979.
Navaz Sharif, 12th Prime minister. Sharif was deposed in 1999 in a
similar military coup led by Chief of Army Staff and Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee
Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Pervez Musharraf. Sharif was
put in a forced trial, but due to foreign pressure exerted by Saudi
Arabia and the United States, Sharif was exiled to
Saudi Arabia which
narrowly spared his life to face the same fate as of Bhutto. In 2010,
Sharif was again put in house arrest by President Asif Ali Zardari
when he announced a long march to support the Lawyers' Movement.
However, Sharif broke the house arrest in his vehicle and drove to
Islamabad to join the Movement.
Imran Khan, former captain of Pakistan cricket team and chairman of
Pakistan Movement of
Justice (PTI) was placed under house arrest at
the declaration of a state of emergency by Chief of Army Staff General
Pervaz Musharraf on November 3, 2007.
Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry, Chief
Justice of Pakistan,
was put under house arrest on November 3, 2007 by General Pervaz
Musharraf. His arrest led to mass protest and Lawyers' Movement.
Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan's top scientist and founder of
Pakistan's Gas-centrifuge programme of the Pakistan's nuclear device
was also put under house arrest for a long time by General Pervez
Musharraf. Khan was forced to attend continuous military debriefings
by Musharraf and was put in house arrest for a long time. Later, he
was released from imprisonment in 2008 by the order of Islamabad High
Court and the Supreme Court of Pakistan. Although the order has not
been fully acted upon, he is legally out of under house arrest.
Roman Catholic Church
Galileo Galilei was put under house arrest for his advocacy for
Copernicus's theory of the Sun in the middle of the universe and the
Earth in motion about the Sun. He stayed under house arrest from 1634
until his death in 1642.
Chia Thye Poh, former leftist Member of Parliament, was arrested
without charges and held under detention without trial in 1966. 22
years later, he was released and placed under house arrest in a
guardhouse on the resort island of
Sentosa and made to pay the rent,
on the pretext that he was now a "free" man.
Bram Fischer, former
South African Communist Party
South African Communist Party leader, was
diagnosed with cancer while in prison and was placed under house
arrest due to pressure from the anti-apartheid groups.
Nikita Khrushchev was placed under house arrest for the
seven years before his death after being deposed in 1964.
Andrey Sakharov was placed under house arrest in 1980 and
released in 1987.
Habib Bourguiba, former President of Tunisia. He was deposed in a
military coup in 1987 and held in house arrest.
Muhammad VIII al-Amin, former king of Tunisia, was deposed in 1957 by
Habib Bourguiba and restrained to house arrest.
Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005
Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005 provided that terrorists could be
detained under house arrest without trial.
Julian Assange, founder of whistleblowing site Wikileaks, has been
under de facto house arrest in the
Embassy of Ecuador, London
Embassy of Ecuador, London for fear
of extradition to the United States for leaking thousands of
See also: Home Detention Curfew
Austin Jones (musician), American former
YouTuber and singer placed on
home confinement 3 days after he was arrested on June 12, 2017 for
producing child pornography. As a part of his release he was barred
from using the Internet and social media while he awaits trial.
Sami Al-Arian, a Professor and prominent advocate for human rights,
named by Newsweek as a "premier civil rights activist" for his efforts
to repeal the use of secret evidence in trials, was held under house
arrest in Northern Virginia from 2008 until 2014 when federal
prosecutors filed a motion to dismiss charges against him. Dr.
Al-Arian had visited the White
House several times, had met Bill and
Hillary Clinton, and had met and campaigned for George W. Bush.
William Calley, U.S. Army officer responsible for the My Lai massacre,
served 3½ years under house arrest when the president commuted his
original sentence of life imprisonment.
Dr. Dre (born Andre Romelle Young), one of the founding fathers of
gangsta rap and former member of the influential hip-hop group N.W.A,
was sentenced to house arrest after being convicted of assaulting a
Rodney King, motorist who served a short sentence under house arrest
for reckless driving.
Debra Lafave, a former middle-school teacher, was sentenced to house
arrest on November 22, 2005 for having sex with a 14-year-old
Adrian Lamo, served six months under house arrest following his
convictions for hacking into
The New York Times
The New York Times and Microsoft.
Lil Boosie (born Torrence Hatch); the rapper was sentenced to house
arrest while awaiting trial.
Lindsay Lohan in 2011, served house arrest for violating her
Bernard Madoff, after his
Ponzi scheme was discovered, and $50 billion
Special Counsel investigation (2017–present).
John G. Rowland, former governor of Connecticut, spent four months
under house arrest after serving 10 months in federal prison for
corruption while in office.
Donté Stallworth, an NFL wide receiver, was sentenced on June 16,
2009 to two years under house arrest for killing a pedestrian with his
vehicle due to driving while intoxicated in Miami, Florida.
Martha Stewart was sentenced to five months under house arrest
following her release from prison on March 4, 2005.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn was held under house arrest on bail as an
alternative to detention at
Riker's Island before his trial for sexual
assault. Strauss-Kahn was released from house arrest on 1 July
Lionel Tate was sentenced to one year under house arrest under the
terms of the plea bargain offered in January 2004.
T.I. (born Clifford Joseph Harris), an American rapper and co-CEO of
Grand Hustle Records, was sentenced to house arrest after gun charges.
Michael Vick, former
Atlanta Falcons quarterback, was approved for
transition to home confinement from his federal incarceration on
February 26, 2009.
Norman Whitfield, former
Motown producer and songwriter, was convicted
in 2005 of tax evasion for failing to report more than $4 million
worth of royalties to the Internal Revenue Service, fined $25,000 and
sentenced to six months under house arrest in lieu of jail time
because of health issues, including diabetes. Whitfield died of
diabetes three years later.
Tay-K (born Tamar McIntyre), an American rapper, was sentenced to
house arrest while awaiting trial for capital murder and aggravated
burglary charges. He somehow cut off his ankle monitor and fled from
his hometown of
Arlington, Texas to
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Elizabeth, New Jersey to spend
some time in a recording studio, recording his biggest hit single to
date (while remaining a fugitive), "The Race", prior to his recent
capture in June 2017 for violating his house arrest terms.
Aloysius Stepinac, Cardinal Archbishop of sentenced to 16 years
imprisonment for collaboration with the
NDH regime, was released to
house arrest after five years.
In popular culture
Goode Behavior (TV series)
House Arrest" (Sopranos episode)
Shameless (TV series) multi episodes (season 4)
Look up house arrest in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Criminal justice portal
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qualify for house arrest?". Slate Magazine.
^ a b Levinson, David. (2002). Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment:
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^ Spohn, Cassia. (2008). How Do Judges Decide?: The Search for
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^ Karen Freifeld, Chris Dolmetsch and Don Jeffrey (20 May 2011).
"Strauss-Kahn May Have Spent Last Night in Jail After Bail".
^ Mele, Christopher. (2005). Civil Penalties, Social Consequences.
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^ Jupp, James; Nieuwenhuysen, John; Dawson, Emma. (2007). Social
Cohesion in Australia. Cambridge University Press. p. 183.
^ "Q&A: Terrorism laws".
BBC News Online. July 3, 2006
^ Marshall, Andrew (2009-08-11). "Burma Court Finds Aung San Suu Kyi
Guilty". TIME. Retrieved 2010-11-15.
^ Tatlow, Didi Kirsten (March 9, 2011). "Out of Jail in China, but Not
Free". The New York Times. access-date= requires url= (help)
^ Norman, Alexander (2008). Holder of the White Lotus: the Lives of
the Dalai Lama. London: Little, Brown. p. 165.
^ "Iran releases dissident cleric". BBC News. 2003-01-30. Retrieved
Dissident Ayatollah Demands Iran's Rulers Be Elected". FOX News.
Associated Press. 2003-09-17. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
Phil Rudd Sentenced to
House Detention for Eight Months".
^ Background note: Nigeria. U.S. Department of State
^ "Anti-terrorism law row rumbles on".
BBC News Online. March 12, 2005
Rodney King Gets
Arrest for Reckless Driving". NBC News.
Retrieved 6 May 2014.
^ "Ex-IMF head
Dominique Strauss-Kahn freed without bail". BBC News. 1
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