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Can Ankle Bracelets serve as a form of enhanced probation?

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Posted almost 6 years ago

 

It costs our state about $80 per day to keep a man in jail.  This works out to more than $29,000 per inmate per year.


We have many non-violent offenders who cost tens of thousands of dollars per year.  The longer they're away from society, the harder time they have getting back to productive work once they're released and the more likely they are to be back in jail.


We now have technology so a man can wear an unbreakable ankle bracelet which will tell the police where he is at all times.  Would it be reasonable to treat such an ankle bracelet as a form of enhanced probation so that these guys could get jobs and start paying taxes instead of absorbing them?


Has this been tried anywhere?  I know that house arrest has been enforced with bracelets, but wouldit work for a form of probation where someone can go to work?


 

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Rate This | Posted almost 6 years ago

 

Well personally, this is one of those issues where I would say, "you can't make anybody do anything they don't want to do", I don't care how enhanced it is, how harsh the punishment. But with criminals, even those that are less violent, they tend to use that old school mentality, "you can do anything you put your mind too" except they apply that to the street and illegal actions. Good topic though, can't wait to see how others respond, and nice to meet you...

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Rate This | Posted almost 6 years ago

 

We use the unbreakable ankle bracelet in TN already for this purpose. It is also used for parole in ILL . I think it is a great thing and it does save the state money as well. It beats putting a first time violater in jail or prison where they are taken out of society. It enables them to remian a productive member of society with limitaitons. It has a very good sucess rate.

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Rate This | Posted almost 6 years ago

 

Ok, I'll play on this one.....


To answer your question, ankle bracelets can serve as a form of enhanced probation, or any other type of supervision for that matter.  However, they are not an effective means of enhanced supervision and offer very little cost savings or public safety benefit.  Let me dissect your question a little bit and show you how I've come to this conclusion....


"It costs our state about $80 per day to keep a man in jail.  This works out to more than $29,000 per inmate per year."


That's a very common figure tossed around so let's just assume it's true.  These 'ankle bracelets,' also known as tethers, are not free.  The traditional tether's cost approximately $1,100 per unit (approx. $425 for the transmitter & $675 for the box) and the newer GPS tethers, which can monitor whereabouts, cost closer to $2,000 per unit.  Many of these units can be reused over and over again, but many are destroyed or lost by the 'non-violent' offenders.  There is also the cost of monitoring the tethers, which depending on the size of the agency, is either done in house or contracted out.  I don't have an exact figure on the daily cost, but I just wanted to point out that these tethers are not exactly free. 


"We have many non-violent offenders who cost tens of thousands of dollars per year.  The longer they're away from society, the harder time they have getting back to productive work once they're released and the more likely they are to be back in jail."


In regards to then having a harder time  getting back to productive work, my instinctive reaction is to say "Tough $hIt, should have thought about that before you did ______."  However, I'll give you a more politically correct answer and report that much of the incarcerated population has other plans than getting back to productive work.  The criminal mindset is not one of working a legitimate job with tax contribution, but often rather a continuing pattern of criminal behavior.  At best, many of the offenders are working under-the-table with no tax contribution.   I would bet that most parole or probation officers who supervise a tether caseload, including myself, will report only a small percentage of their caseload is employed or even actively seeking employment. 


"We now have technology so a man can wear an unbreakable ankle bracelet which will tell the police where he is at all times.  Would it be reasonable to treat such an ankle bracelet as a form of enhanced probation so that these guys could get jobs and start paying taxes instead of absorbing them? "


All ankle bracelets are breakable and can be removed with a good pair of scissors or a sharp knife.  Regardless of whether they can be removed or not, it does not chain them to their residence.  An offender on a tether can walk away at anytime, and often do.  They are aware of the consequences, but still make the poor decision to abscond.  The latest and greatest among the public and politicians is the GPS tether.  It sounds great because an offender's movement can be tracked.  However, these GPS tethers work off of satellites and fail when they cannot receive a signal.  An offender will lose the signal in almost every enclosed area, such as a house, store, car, bus, etc.  GPS tethers are particularly troublesome in urban areas.  Even when the GPS works flawlessly, just seeing a dot walking around on a map does nothing to enhance public safety or mean that the person is not committing a crime. 


Also, the police do not monitor tethers and have no vested interest in tether supervision.  Tether supervision is monitored by correction agencies or private contractors.  In my experience, many officers are insulted that an offender is released on a tether when they should be behind bars.   


Ugh, back to the work and tax issue.  Yes, in an ideal world it would be great for offenders to work and pay their share, but the criminal mentality just doesn't work like that.   If an offender is interested in working and employable, they will be able to find a job after they are finished serving their time. 


Sorry to sound so negative about your ankle bracelets, but just had to toss in my two cents.  I work a specialized electronic monitoring caseload and am a self-appointed expert in this area.  I've seen the tethers smashed in tiny pieces, I've seen a non-violent offender on a tether commit a double murder, I've seen tethered offenders just sit home and sell dope from their front door, and I've seen countless offenders just walk away and vanish into thin air.  Finally, I've seen how ineffective these tethers are and seen how these so-called 'non-violent' offenders are committing crimes at alarming rates while wearing a tether. 


On the positive side, tethers do have a purpose in corrections and are used as a good intermediate sanction in reponse to a violation for minor non-compliance.  They are just ineffective as a means of clearing out the jails and prisons. 


Maybe this post should be in the corrections section?