- February 23, 2017
- CLLB Law
- Criminal Defense
Electronic monitoring was first developed at Harvard University in the 1960s and became a judicially sanctioned program by the mid-1980s. Based on the principle that surveillance deters criminal behavior, ankle monitors (also known as tethers) are often used for house arrest or parole of mostly non-violent misdemeanor offenders as an alternative to prison time. Most of these devices are bulky black boxes that are designed to be tamper-resistant. Attempts at removal or obstruction can automatically notify the authorities.
Fundamentally, ankle monitors are homing devices that use radio frequencies to transmit a signal to a receiver in the wearer’s house. The receiver relays the information to a service center that sends out alerts if the bracelet ventures outside of the permitted area. The advancement of GPS technology has added flexibility by allowing mobile phones to be converted into receivers so that supervision can now go beyond whether someone is in a fixed location. In addition to monitors that track movement, SCRAM bracelets (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring) measure blood alcohol content transdermally (through the skin) and are used to supervise offenders whose sentences require that they not consume alcohol.
According to a recent Pew Charitable Trusts Survey that examined electronic tracking, the number of accused and convicted criminal offenders monitored with ankle bracelets in the U.S. increased 140 percent between 2005 and 2015. With data extrapolation, the 2015 total was estimated to exceed 131,000 people. All of the growth was due to the popularity of GPS systems, which was enough to offset a 25% reduction in the use of radio frequency systems. Indiana is no different, with more than 3,200 residents outfitted with GPS trackers in just the central part of the state!
Why the Increase in Ankle Bracelet Monitoring?
Jail overcrowding, combined with cheaper, more reliable technology, makes ankle tethers an attractive option to be granted by judges.A GPS tracking provider with locations in Indianapolis, Lafayette, and Tell City expects to expand across the state as the 5,000 Hoosiers it currently monitors will likely increase exponentially in the wake of recent criminal justice reform proposals. In fact, the company has developed a tool that allows predictions about a wearer’s future activity through analysis of his or her patterns and assigning codes to certain locations or activities so authorities can determine whether an investigation is urgent.
While the devices allow defendants limited freedom in their own home, for many, the invasion of privacy inherent in electronic monitoring is too steep a price to pay. And that’s not the only cost. In most jurisdictions, the initial setup fee plus daily maintenance fees are the responsibility of the wearer.
If you have any questions about this topic or about the possibility of being monitored by an electronic ankle device, you can find out more by discussing it with one of the criminal defense attorneys at Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law. We have years of experience helping people and we can help you. Based in New Albany, Indiana, we proudly serve communities throughout Kentucky and Indiana including, but not limited to, Jefferson County, KY; Floyd County, IN; Clark County, IN; and Harrison County, IN. Contact us by calling (812) 725-8224 or filling out our online form.