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5 Things to Know About Ankle Monitors

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Martha Stewart had one. Paris Hilton had one. What are we talking about here?

An ankle monitor! For many first-time and non-violent offenders, jail is not the right sentence. The better alternative is house arrest or some other type of monitored sentence. And, you can't have house arrest or (any kind of monitoring) without an ankle monitor.

There are many myths surrounding this little piece of jewelry, so here are five things to know about the ankle monitor:

1. It's Cheaper Than Putting People In Prison.

The cost of incarcerating a person far outweighs the cost of an ankle monitor and house arrest. Putting a person in prison can cost over $20,000 a year, while house arrest only costs about $6,000 per year.

2. The Wearer Has To Help Pay For The Privilege of an Ankle Monitor.

Usually, the wearer has to pay for the cost of the monitor and a daily use fee. Some court systems charge on a sliding scale based on income and ability to pay. Others have a set fee of about $5-15 per day plus a setup fee as high as $200.

3. Ankle Monitors Are Not Just Used For House Arrest.

We usually think ankle monitors are used for someone on house arrest, alcohol monitoring, or on bail pending a trial. However, in Texas, high schools are putting ankle monitors on truant students. Seems a bit excessive, doesn't it?

4. They're Waterproof.

TV shows and movies often show a person with an ankle monitor showering with one leg stuck outside of the shower. However, the belief that you can't shower or swim with an ankle monitor is nothing more than myth.

Ankle monitors are waterproof, while the level of water-resistance can vary. Just be careful when you are swimming or lounging in the whirlpool bathtub. Even though the monitors won't die, the signal may be weaker or blocked completely. Your probation officer will think you absconded to Timbuktu. And there will be trouble.

5. They're Not Just For Tracking Your Movements.

Ankle monitors don't just track where you are and where you go. Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitors (SCRAM) can test your sweat and detect the level of alcohol in your body.

If you've been sentenced to jail for a crime and would like to the court to consider house arrest or other monitoring instead, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to help.

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