In Texas and across the country, ankle monitors have often been promoted as a humane alternative to traditional incarceration. After a spate of negative publicity exposed the practice of Immigration and Customs Enforcement to separate undocumented immigrant parents and children, families have now been monitored through these devices. In addition, people accused of white-collar crimes have also been assigned ankle monitors on a fairly frequent basis. Research indicates that police and other agencies’ use of electronic ankle monitors has more than doubled between 2005 and 2015.
A growing light has been shed on the negative social consequences of excessive incarceration, especially on communities of color. In response, ankle monitoring has been promoted as an alternative to prison. However, people who live with the monitors have noted that they face extensive restrictions that are often poorly understood. The monitors are usually equipped with GPS tracking, and people have spent time behind bars if the signal drops or provides inaccurate information.
In addition, people must pay a daily fee for using the monitor that can often be greater than their rent, and ankle monitors can be a further barrier to escaping poverty and crime. While the devices are incompatible with several types of medical scans and procedures, there is often no legal loophole to remove the bracelet in order to receive medical care.
People accused of crimes in the United States often may feel that they face a stacked deck in the criminal justice system. The consequences of a conviction can include not just fines and jail time, but ongoing effects on housing, employment and other key areas of life. Those who have been charged with crimes thus might find it advisable to meet with a defense attorney at the earliest opportunity.