With jail crowding like never before and celebrities like Lindsey Lohan being sentenced to house arrest, ankle monitors are more popular than ever. But are those sentenced to use ankle monitors in San Diego as an alternatives to incarceration living the easy life? Not by any measure, says Vista probation lawyer Peter M. Liss.
Ankle Monitors in San Diego
In San Diego County, two types of ankle bracelets are commonly used. SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) is a monitored device operated by a private company which is ordered by the court before someone is convicted to ensure the defendant doesn’t consume alcohol. It is often used in lieu of a bail increase for alcohol-related offenses.
CPAC (County Parole and Alternative Custody) uses both GPS and alcohol monitoring and is the house arrest program run by the Sheriff as an alternative to jail for sentenced defendants. They will only supervise someone whose job and residence is in San Diego County. Even a minor violation can result in the offender being sent to jail to serve the rest of the mandated sentence.
The Benefits of Ankle Monitors
The most obvious benefit of using a house arrest for probation or parole is the simple fact that you aren’t stuck behind bars. Depending on the specific rules you are bound by, you may be able to go to work, go shopping and otherwise live your life as you normally would with a few restrictions. Even if you are required to stay in your home, you still have the comfort of your own bed and can see friends and family at will, luxuries you would never have in jail or prison.
For society, sentencing offenders to use ankle monitors in San Diego can save tax payers millions over incarceration costs while still providing tax payers a sense of security, knowing those on probation or parole are being closely monitored.
Ankle Bracelet Problems
Despite the many benefits, it is important to remember that you are still being punished and monitored. The monitors are subject to error as well. In fact, Wisconsin sex offenders who are required to wear ankle monitors while on parole constantly report the GPS on the devices failing, providing their parole officers with false information about their location. As a result, they frequently end up behind bars for violating the terms of their parole, despite never having left their living rooms. “There are times when I’m afraid to leave whatever room I’m in, even to go to the bathroom,” said one offender. One convict begged to be returned to prison because he claimed he at least knew what was to be expected of him there.
The device’s batteries must be charged daily too and if you forget to charge it or if the battery begins to fail, it will send a signal to the your probation or parole officer, which could result in your being sent back to prison.
Even if you don’t have a faulty device, you can still have problems when you are required to go somewhere in an emergency without your parole officer’s permission. Wired shares the example of one convict who was arrested for visiting the hospital after cutting his hand. This is because those sentenced to wear ankle monitors in San Diego and other jurisdictions are not allowed to remove them, even for emergency medical procedures like MRIs or CT scans that cannot be performed with the bracelets on.
Holding Down a Job With an Ankle Monitor
While probation and parole violations related to ankle monitor errors and emergencies will probably not be ruled violations in court hearings, especially with a good criminal lawyer at your side, the fact that you are required to spend time behind bars awaiting your hearing could cost you your job.
An ankle monitor for probation or parole can make it even more difficult to obtain a job in the first place as it will serve as a visible signs of an offender’s criminal past and it will prevent you from varying your routine without risking being sent back to jail. Because you must pay for your own monitoring (anywhere from $15 to $20 a day), the loss of a job could also result in the violation of probation or parole and a return to incarceration.
Costs of Ankle Monitors in San Diego
Additionally, few people are aware that many people are given monitors as opposed to being kept in jail while waiting trial. Unlike bail though, the costs of ankle monitors are not returned if you are found innocent of a crime.
And while ankle monitors for those on probation and parole may be less expensive than incarceration, purchasing and upkeeping the devices as well as arresting an incarcerating anyone whose GPS signal reports a violation is far more costly to taxpayers than simply allowing someone to serve probation or parole without a digital monitor.
The Best Solution is True Freedom
While an ankle monitor for probation or parole is generally better than incarceration, it might not be if your monitored probation period would be longer than the sentence you might otherwise serve behind bars. That’s especially true if a malfunction on the part of the monitor or a minor error on your part results in a probation violation that ends with your being put in jail. That’s why it is important to discuss all of your options with your Vista probation lawyer before deciding whether you want to accept probation or incarceration.
Of course, ideally, you won’t be incarcerated or put on house arrest at all, which is something your Vista probation lawyer may or may not be able to help you with -by seeing if you might be able to completely beat the charges and, if not, then by negotiating the best possible plea bargain with the district attorney. In some cases, work furlough might be a preferable solution to either incarceration or house arrest depending on your situation.
If you have been accused of a crime, please call (760) 643-4050 to schedule a free initial consultation with Vista probation lawyer Peter M. Liss.
Creative Commons Image by Monique