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Frank, Juengel & Radefeld, Attorneys at Law

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Defenders Of The Accused
Matthew Radefeld & Dan Juengel

There is no solid proof that electronic monitoring via ankle bracelets reduces community crime, say researchers in a recent article penned for Wired magazine. What they really do is “function as an additional punishment, extending a person’s sentence when they’re placed on a monitor as part of parole.”

So say authors James Kilgore and Emmett Sanders, who write on criminal law topics. We referenced the writers and their stated concerns with the ever-growing use of ankle bracelets as an enforcement tool across the United States in our August 14 blog post. We noted their take on such devices as “high tech tethers.”

Just consider this, they say: Ankle monitors know where a wearer is every second of the day. They can provide information on highly personal preferences, habits, associations with other groups/parties and additional information that properly has nothing to do with their criminal charge.

And that information might be saved indefinitely in the future and passed along to unknown entities.

“Where does all that tracking data go?” query Kilgore and Sanders. Their answer is that it is simply hard to say, with a likelihood that it could be seen and used by various third parties “long after [a] person is off the monitor.”

Moreover, there are troubling fairness-linked issued with monitoring, most specifically that it is far more of an exaction on comparatively poorer individuals, precisely the demographic which is most affected by it.

In short, the wearer bears all the costs, and they can be prohibitive. Reportedly, fees can be upwards of several hundred dollars a month. Given that some persons must wear a GPS shackle for life (think a person convicted of select sex crimes, for example), that steady exaction on the wallet arguably violates the Constitution’s 8th Amendment against unusual punishment and the imposition of excessive financial penalties.

Kilgore and Sanders flatly asset that, rather than being a viable option to incarceration, electronic monitoring is simply a punitive device.

“We need genuine alternatives, not digital prisons,” they write.