Ankle Monitoring To Reduce Jail Overcrowding: But How Does It Work?

MOUNT VERNON, Mo. --Jasper county commissioners are considering ankle bracelet monitors as a possible solution to jail overcrowding.
But how does the system work? Action 12's Morgan Schutters has the answer to that question.

The ankle monitors are called 'GPS Offender Units.'

Tim Brenner's worked in local law enforcement for more than 15 years.
Now he's putting the ankle monitors on inmates in Missouri.

Private companies like Southern Missouri Judicial Services attach the monitor to the inmate's ankle, then track the device online via GPS.
"There's a tamper resistant strap on it of fiber optics so if the inmate was to cut it or take it off losing continuity through the bracelet we would receive an instant alert that not only goes to us but to the sheriff's department as well," Brenner says.

Jasper County Commissioners are considering the ankle monitors. Brenner says he can see why.
"Of all the jails in the area we work with they're overcrowded the solution many are finding is its a lot cheaper to put the inmate on electronic monitoring than pay the price to house them in other places."

He says the devices are growing in popularity as a viable option to reduce jail overcrowding.
"Our numbers have more than tripled over the last six months -a big rise, there is jail overcrowding issues that is a big deal."

And the success rate is high.
"One of the biggest problems we've always had with drug offenders is who they associate with - the drug offenders don't want to be close to them while they're wearing the ankle bracelet they don't want to be out committing crimes wearing the bracelet because that puts them at the scene of the crime," Brenner says.

There are also alcohol monitoring devices for DWI offenders.
Those bracelets secure to the skin and sample sweat to determine if alcohol is in the offender's system.

The tracking devices are not fool proof.
Weather, terrain, vehicles, and large or tall buildings can block the monitor's signal strength which would affect the GPS tracking ability.

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