Ankle Monitors as Sentencing Alternatives

August 10th, 2016 by Attorney Dan Carman

It seems at times as if the pace of technology has been at full throttle for the last 40 or so years. Computers, the Internet, mobile phones, global positioning systems (GPS), and digital cameras are just some of the innovations that have drastically affected modern life. Continuous electronic monitoring of individuals on supervised probation or parole combines a few of these inventions to offer an alternative to jail or prison time. Many first-time, non-violent, and misdemeanor offenders are sentenced to house arrest and monitored by an ankle bracelet.

There are several different models of ankle tethers, but the two most common are those that track the wearer’s movement and those that track the wearer’s alcohol consumption. The first type transmits a GPS signal to a base handset that is connected to law enforcement or a monitoring company. If the wearer roams outside of the permitted area, the authorities are notified. Offenders who wear this kind of ankle bracelet have to stay within the confines of their homes or yards, though variances may be granted for those who are employed to get to work along a pre-planned route. The second type is known as a SCRAM bracelet (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring) and is used to supervise offenders whose bond conditions or probation requires that they not ingest alcohol. It measures the wearer’s blood alcohol content by sampling his or her sweat and reports those readings to the authorities on a pre-determined schedule.

Contrary to pop culture portrayals, ankle monitors are generally waterproof. There’s no need to shower while balancing on one leg or to give up taking baths. However, wearers must be careful when immersing themselves in water, because the signal can weaken or even be completely blocked. No one wants to have their pretrial release or probation revoked over a misunderstanding. Tethers are also capable of detecting any attempts to tamper with, obstruct, or remove them. If that happens, the offender will likely be arrested on suspicion of violating probation. In fact, any time that the judge feels the terms of supervision have been disregarded, the probation can be voided and the original sentence reinstated.

While electronic monitoring involves an invasion of privacy, it’s generally a better choice for qualifying for defendants and offenders than jail or prison time. The devices allow people to enjoy limited freedom in their own home while serving awaiting trial or their sentence away from more seasoned inmates. They also reduce the strain on an already crowded incarceration system, are cheaper than putting someone in prison, and allow flexible supervision based on current behavior. It’s important to note that in many situations, offenders are required to pay for the monitoring as part of the costs and fees that make up their pretrial release or sentences. Some courts charge on a sliding scale based on income and ability to pay, while others have a fixed fee plus a setup fee.

If you have been accused of a crime in Fayette County or anywhere in Kentucky and want to discuss the possibility of being monitored by an electronic ankle device instead of jail, consult the attorneys at the Lexington, KY-based Carman Law Firm. As criminal defense attorneys with years of experience, we offer thorough, experienced representation. Call today at (859) 685-1055 or fill out this online contact form to find out how we can help you.