What is an Ankle Monitor?

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For some criminals, an ankle monitor is used as an alternative to incarceration or a way to keep track of them until they go to trial. Because of the ability to transmit specific location information, law enforcement can stay apprised of where the perpetrator is at all times.

Ankle monitors are typically locked onto the ankle of the perpetrator and made to stay there for a specific period. In most cases, these devices are not able to be removed except by a law enforcement officer.

Are you curious about what an ankle monitor is and how they work? Keep reading this article to find out more.

What is an Ankle Monitor?

An ankle monitor is a device that is like a bracelet that is attached to the lower leg just above the ankle. This device is used to track individuals for a variety of reasons through either global positioning or radio frequency.

When placed, the monitor is locked onto the individual to allow law enforcement to track them at all times. These devices are typically used for those who have either been ordered to house arrest, as a condition of parole, or for other reasons.

Since the ankle monitor is constantly transmitting information to the on-site receiver, it then transfers that information to the agency that is charged with monitoring it. If it indicates that the individual is not where they are supposed to be, a signal is then sent to the local law enforcement agency.

How Does an Ankle Monitor Work?

When it comes to using an ankle monitor, many people wonder how they operate and what they are used to monitoring. For the most part, an ankle monitor is used to ensure that the wearer is where they are supposed to be at all times.

When the court orders someone to wear an ankle monitor, they then set the parameters of the sentence just as they would someone who is incarcerated. The difference is that when someone wears an ankle monitor, they can be tracked no matter where they are and at all times.

In most cases, the court of jurisdiction will calibrate the ankle monitor to either confine the person to their home and only a short distance around it or further. This will depend on the condition of their release from incarceration and how confined they intend to be.

Once the monitor is set up, it is designed to begin tracking the location of the individual through GPS or radio frequency. This will allow law enforcement to know just where the individual is at all times.

Should an individual with an ankle monitor violate the orders of the device, a signal is then sent to either the monitoring center or local law enforcement. These signals can be sent for various reasons such as not being in the desired location, when the device is not charged, an attempt to tamper with the device, and more.

What Are the Different Types of Ankle Monitors?

Several different types of ankle monitors exist depending on the crime that was committed that is caused for such a device. Depending on the accuracy the court of jurisdiction insists on, the individual may wear a device accordingly.

GPS (Global Positioning System)

Most people are aware of what GPS is and how accurate it can be to pinpoint an exact location of an individual. Using this type of device is helpful for those who are confined to a specific geographical location.

These devices can track and then transmit the exact location of an individual at any given time. This is helpful for those criminals who are allowed to work and go about their business for specific periods of their day.

RF (Radio Frequency)

This type of ankle monitor is less accurate than a GPS but can still pinpoint the general location of the individual as it relates to their on-site receiver. Instead of giving an exact location, it can let monitors know when they are in the range of the receiver.

This type of device is typically used when it is not necessary to know the exact location of where the individual at all times. In most cases, those who are allowed to be out of their designated area for periods will usually be assigned this type of device.

SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring)

A SCRAM device is most often used for individuals who have had several DUI infractions and need to be closely monitored. In addition to location monitoring, this type of device can also detect alcohol use in the individual.

An individual who wears a SCRAM device is subject to their sweat being tested periodically to monitor for alcohol use. In most cases, it is designed to be a deterrent for those who have alcohol problems from violating the conditions of their release.

What Types of Situations Are Associated with Ankle Monitors?

While ankle monitors have been in use since the 1980s for many different reasons, they became increasingly important during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because prisons became a “hot spot” for increasing cases of illness and courts had to find a way to protect inmates.

There are many reasons a judge may sentence an individual to wear an ankle monitor from being a condition of parole to alcohol issues and even immigration problems. These devices are considered an alternative to being incarcerated for long periods.

Condition of Parole

Many times, when a person has a major conviction and they are paroled from incarceration, they may be required to wear an ankle monitor for some time. While this may seem to the individual like they are still locked up, it allows their parole officer to ensure that they are going to stay on the straight and narrow.

DUI Convictions

When a person has received multiple convictions of DUI or other alcohol-related crimes, a court may assign them to wear an ankle monitor. In most of these cases, they are subject to the SCRAM unit which can keep track of their alcohol use and notify law enforcement if they violate the conditions of their release.

House Arrest

Individuals who are sentenced to house arrest either as a way to wait for their trial or as their punishment are typically made to wear an ankle monitor. These devices will keep track to ensure that the individual is staying within the confines of their home.

Immigration Issues

In some immigration issues, the governing agency may assign an individual to wear an ankle monitor rather than wait for deportation in a detention center. This situation may apply to those who are not a danger to society and are allowed to roam within certain areas until they have their day in court.

How Far Can Someone Go With an Ankle Monitor?

For the most part, the distance someone can go with an ankle monitor is determined by the court of jurisdiction. This is typically decided based on the overall reason for the sentence and the specific conditions of the sentence.

In most cases, if a person is sentenced to house arrest, this typically means that the individual is not allowed to leave the home at all. In these cases, the ankle monitor usually has a distance of no more than 150 feet around the home.

For others who are allowed a bit more freedom, the court of jurisdiction may allow them to move about the community at greater distances. There are typically specific conditions that apply to this type of confinement and are monitored closely.

Here are some reasons individuals may be allowed to move around at greater distances:

  • Attending rehabilitation or required meetings
  • Medical visits
  • Traveling to and from work
  • Attending religious facilities
  • Required visits to parole officers

While there may be additional reasons why individuals are given more freedom with their ankle monitor, these are the most common reasons. Keep in mind that even though they are given these freedoms, the transmission of these travels is tracked at all times.

Depending on the reason for the incarceration, a judge will most likely attach specific times of the day that an individual can be away from their home. These times are usually designated during the work day and do not include any nighttime travel.

How Are Ankle Monitors Monitored?

Depending on the type of device that is used, the information for an individual is either transmitted constantly or at specific intervals. This information can then be used to determine whether the individual is where they are supposed to be at all times.

Also depending on who issues the device, it may be monitored in a variety of ways. In some locations, the monitoring falls on the local law enforcement agency, while in other places, the monitoring is done by a third party who has issued the device in the first place.

No matter who monitors the device, it is an accurate way to keep track of individuals who have been sentenced to some type of monitoring.

Reference Legal Explanations

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  • "What is an Ankle Monitor?". Legal Explanations. Accessed on June 13, 2024. https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-an-ankle-monitor/.

  • "What is an Ankle Monitor?". Legal Explanations, https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-an-ankle-monitor/. Accessed 13 June, 2024

  • What is an Ankle Monitor?. Legal Explanations. Retrieved from https://legal-explanations.com/blog/what-is-an-ankle-monitor/.