What Are Some Reasons for an Ankle Bracelet?

By Mary Jane Freeman - Updated March 05, 2018
Security electronic tagging

Criminal offenders wear ankle bracelets, or monitors, while sentenced to house arrest, parole or probation. They may be worn before or after a person goes to trial on criminal charges. The bracelets are also used to monitor alcohol consumption and the location of undocumented immigrants who are facing removal from the United States.

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Ankle bracelets monitor the whereabouts of those or convicted of criminal offenses and serving time on probation or parole. Individuals on house arrest while facing criminal charges also wear the monitors.

What an Ankle Bracelet Does

An ankle bracelet transmits the wearer's location to a monitoring system via GPS. Attempting to remove the device triggers an alarm to law enforcement. If the offender travels outside of a set geographic area, such as the city in which he lives, this also triggers an alarm.

Alcohol Monitoring

A judge can order a person convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances to wear an ankle bracelet either instead of serving jail time or in addition to it. Ankle bracelets assigned in connection to a DUI case can monitor alcohol consumption. The bracelet tests the offender's perspiration for the presence of alcohol, often every hour. The information is then uploaded to a central computer database where it is tracked by law enforcement.

Condition of House Arrest

Judges sometimes order house arrest, also known as residential confinement, as an alternative to jail or as a condition of parole or probation. In Nevada, eligibility is limited to those who have not violated any prison rules while serving time and who have not committed a violent crime or sex crime. An offender may also be granted house arrest if he is in ill health or physically incapacitated. In the case of house arrest, the ankle monitor tracks the whereabouts of the offender in relation to his home. Depending on the terms of his house arrest, the offender may also be permitted to travel to certain locations outside the home, such as his place of employment, community service location, treatment center and church. Traveling outside of a permitted area, however, will typically trigger an alarm to law enforcement.

Alternative to Immigration Detention

If a person is in the U.S. illegally and facing removal proceedings, also known as deportation, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will sometimes permit the person to remain free until the removal hearing rather than in an immigration detention center. Generally, an immigrant will qualify if his detention is not required by law, if he is not a danger to the community and if he is a low flight risk. As a condition of remaining free, the immigrant must wear an ankle bracelet so ICE can monitor his whereabouts at all times. Supervision may also include unannounced visits by immigration officials.

About the Author

Based on the West Coast, Mary Jane Freeman has been writing professionally since 1994, specializing in the topics of business and law. Freeman's work has appeared in a variety of publications, including LegalZoom, Essence, Reuters and Chicago Sun-Times. Freeman holds a Master of Science in public policy and management and Juris Doctor. Freeman is self-employed and works as a policy analyst and legal consultant.

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