Electronic tracking devices are fitted to a person on bail for tracking their movement when they are allowed by the court to remain outside of the jail. This is called electronically tagging the person for the purpose of surveillance.
The devices that are used to track the suspect’s movements are broadly based on either radio frequency (RF) technology, or global positioning system (GPS) technology, and they are mainly attached like a bracelet to the wrist or arm of the participants. Three models of bracelets are available: one for GPS tracking, one for monitoring those in home detention, and one to track offenders’ blood alcohol levels.
Purpose of Using These Devices
Monitoring devices are often used by courts during the pre-trial and pre-release stages of criminal management. Electronic monitoring is very useful when preparing individuals for court, or for monitoring the release of the incarcerated back into society. This is because they will limit the chances of the offender missing court appearances or committing crimes. Tracking devices can also reduce custody population as individuals can be monitored to ensure that they abide by the rules of their bail or release.
How Do These Devices Work?
- Radio Frequency Monitoring
- Global Positioning System Monitoring
- Electronic Tracking Devices In Use for Tracking
Most of these electronic tracking devices make use of RF and/or GPS technology for the purpose of tracking a person’s activities and sending data to the monitoring center. They are generally attached to the high risk participant’s wrist or ankle with a reporting unit installed at home. While other tracking devices, which are used for tracking other lower risk cases such as alcohol monitoring, don’t necessarily use GPS. An internet connection is well enough for them.
In RF monitoring, a participant wears an ankle bracelet and a home monitoring unit is placed in his or her home. When bracelet comes in or go out of the range of monitoring unit, the unit sends a notice to the monitoring center. Usually the range of this unit is within 50 to 150 feet.
Depending on whether the offender is on probation, or parole, or under a prison release program, the court or a parole officer sets a person’s schedule. The person has to go from and come back to his home according to the schedule. These are more generally used for persons who are under house arrest.
GPS technology is for a closer monitoring of more serious offenders such as ones accused of rape or murder. Similar to the RF technology, it also notifies the monitoring center when the participant comes in or goes out of the range. Additionally, it identifies a person’s speed of travel and when a person stops at a location for a length of time.
One other advantage of using GPS monitoring is the ability to set an inclusion zone or an exclusion zone. Officers can set an inclusion zone such as a workplace for participants who are allowed to work, and exclusion zones such as a place or address where participants are not allowed to go.
There are various different types of GPS monitoring devices. Some of them will track data in real time, whilst others may save the location details at regular intervals. It depends on the type of network they are using such as GPRS, SIM, radio or internet signal.
Based on the type of activity required to be tracked, following are the types of electronic tracking devices that are in use for monitoring:
- GPS Active Tracking Tether
- GPS Passive Tracking Tether
- Breathalyzer Monitor
It monitors a person using satellites and reports information at set intervals. The system keeps a check on the movement in the predetermined area, and notifies via a pager to a GPS staff member about the participant’s movements in the excluded area.
It also tracks a person’s movements and activities in the excluded or included area. However, unlike active tracking tethers’ ability to track in the real time, it tracks a person’s activity and stores the information for download the next day.
It helps reviewing and tracking a person at random while at home. The person has to take a preliminary breath test once the system contacts the home. For added advantage, the system typically has a camera.
The two devices below are used for tracking a person’s alcohol intake. For persons who are frequently taken in for committing crimes such as accidents under alcohol influence, the following devices are used for monitoring their activities:
- Ignition Interlock
Ignition interlocks are installed in the participant’s vehicle to analyze his or her breath for alcohol. The person has to blow in the machine and pass the test before the engine starts. If found under influence, the engine will not start.
- Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM)
The SCRAM devices analyzes a person’s skin to determine the blood alcohol content once an hour. The unit begins to test every 30 minutes if it detects alcohol.
Benefits of Using These Devices
Electronic tracking devices are beneficial in many ways, including:
It reduces the monitoring cost and eliminates the incarceration cost. The GPS and home detention bracelets cost less than $5 per day to monitor and the alcohol monitoring bracelet costs $15-$20 per day, while the average incarceration cost in California prisons falls around $220 per day.
It helps in keeping a close tracking and monitoring on the more serious offenders such as a sex offenders or a murders who are out on bail.
So, this was all about electronic tracking devices.