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The New Incarceration

W. Scott Cole

Posted on July 12, 2019 00:04

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Jails are overcrowded. Prisons are overcrowded. Lawmakers are realizing the decades old “tough on crime” policies they have followed do not work. The way we treat those under state supervision is being reformed. Or is it? Are we just directing those charged with or convicted of crimes down a different track?

Its official name is GPS monitoring. Those who have to deal with it call them ankle bracelets. It is literally Big Brother come to life. An ankle bracelet is a black box about the size of an adult’s closed fist that is fastened to a person with a thick black band. Anyone with access to the computer program can monitor not only where you are, but everywhere you have been to within a few feet, complete with addresses.

Imagine wearing one. They are water resistant, so you can shower while wearing one, but forget about swimming and taking baths. They are not waterproof, and shorting one out with water is a felony.

They contain a battery to send the GPS signal to the government agency and/or private company that monitors your whereabouts. This means you must plug into an electrical outlet one to three hours every day to recharge the battery. Don’t let the battery die, because (you guessed it), that is a felony. If the battery wears out or there are other problems, be prepared to take time off work so the problem can be taken care of.

Unless you don’t care about getting suspicious looks and glares from other members of the public, forget about wearing shorts. Forget about wearing boots, too, even in winter. The tops are too high to fit over the bracelet.

You haven’t been convicted of a crime? You have been charged and are out on bail? Doesn’t matter. Big Brother still wants to know where you are. You still get to wear an ankle monitor, have a curfew, and be restricted on places you can go, just the same as if you had been convicted.

Then there is the cost. Here in Colorado, the state pays the fees for parolees, but probationers and those released on bond can be another matter. You can expect to pay an average of $10 per day for the privilege of wearing an ankle monitor. That works out to $300 a month. A poor person (which many in the criminal justice system are) cannot afford to make car payments, yet the government expects them to pay $300 a month in order to stay out of jail.

So, you say, “I’ve had it with this. I can’t afford it! I’m getting rid of it!” That is easy to do. A sharp pair of scissors is all that is needed to cut the ankle band and suddenly you are free! Until the police catch up to you, because (yep) that’s a felony.

What companies supply the government with GPS monitoring services? If you guessed it’s the same people that operate private prisons, you get a gold star. CoreCivic and the GEO Group are the two biggest private prison companies in the United States. They are also the two biggest providers of GPS monitoring.

Stay tuned for my next article if you want to know how prevalent ankle monitoring has become in today's world.

W. Scott Cole

Posted on July 12, 2019 00:04

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