There are three types of ankle monitors used or recommended by correctional service agencies in the US and Canada. That is -RF/Radio Frequency ankle monitors, GPS monitors, and SCRAM monitors.
Below we’ll go over the differences between each type of monitor.
What crimes get an ankle monitor?
In the US, upon conviction for nonviolent crimes, once sentenced to probation, or if the court orders the individual to serve home arrest an ankle monitor may be required. The terms of sentencing may include electronic monitoring to ensure that the individual stays within a set boundary or curfew. That would mean that they would have to wear an ankle monitor everywhere they go. In some jurisdictions, the law requires the accused to pay for ankle monitors because it is seen as a privilege, not a right.
Quick take – Types of ankle monitors:
- There are three types of ankle monitors, namely, SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring), RF/Radio Frequency Ankle monitors, and GPS monitors.
- Some have heavy-duty locks and some feature rubber cuffs.
- Ankle monitors will notify monitoring centers if tampered with.
- Ankle monitors can also monitor for drugs and alcohol.
- You may petition the court for electronic monitoring to avoid jail time.
- You can hide an ankle monitor with an ankle monitor cover.
Below we’ll go over each type of ankle monitor.
How to Hide an Ankle Monitor
What is an RF ankle monitor?
If the terms of your release, probation, or parole allow you to leave your home. You will have to purchase an RF monitor. An RF monitor is used to enforce curfews, meaning, you set up a monitoring unit in your home and you wear an ankle bracelet. The home unit will detect the bracelet if it is within 50 to 150 feet. When you are within range while wearing the ankle bracelet, the home unit sends signals to a monitoring center.
What is a GPS Monitoring ankle bracelet?
GPS stands for Global Positioning System. Unlike RF monitors, a GPS device, just like the one on your vehicle, tracks the wearer wherever the individual goes. It notifies the monitoring center whenever you are within a specific range of your home.
It offers you more freedom, but your case manager or the officer sets exclusion and inclusion zones, meaning, if you go anywhere you are not supposed to, the device will notify the monitoring center.
Who chooses your ankle monitor?
A parole officer assesses the individual’s risk factors then decides what ankle monitor best suits the individual.
What is a SCRAM ankle monitor?
SCRAM, stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring, it is a type of ankle monitor that as the name suggests monitors’ the wearer’s alcohol consumption by continuous transdermal alcohol testing. If you are convicted for drunk driving, or other alcohol related offenses, you may have to wear one in the US or Canada.
Does the law allow the courts to order two ankle monitors?
If a person is under investigation in two jurisdictions or if convicted and ordered to wear an ankle monitor in two states. The law does not prohibit the court or judge from both jurisdictions from ordering ankle monitoring. Consequently, some individuals may have to wear two ankle monitors.
What crimes require ankle monitors
According to law enforcement officers, electronic monitoring devices serve as an alternative to incarceration. Consequently, if it is your first offense and the court finds that your risk of reoffending is low or if you commit a lower-level crime. You may qualify for monitoring instead of prison.
Therefore, a judge may order electronic monitoring if you are found guilty or under investigation for the following crimes or under the following circumstances:
- Accusation or conviction for a DUI (Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol). This may result in the usage of an alcohol monitoring (SCRAM) anklet.
- ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) may order an illegal immigrant to wear an ankle monitor instead of holding the individual at a detention facility.
- The judge may order electronic monitoring as an alternative to jail time or as a condition for parole or probation.
- An offender may petition the court for electronic monitoring if the individual has health problems.
How do I qualify for ankle monitors?
The crime, flight risk, health condition, and other factors determine if you qualify for electronic monitoring. Also, the factors the courts consider vary depending on state law. but if you meet the criteria below, you may qualify for electronic monitoring.
- You live in the area where the crime was committed and you pose very little or no flight risk.
- There must be a phone in your home or residence.
- You must be financially capable of paying the costs associated with the device.
- You committed a low-level offense that is punishable by incarceration in county jail, not state or federal prison.
- You have a short criminal record.
Are low-income individuals banned from electronic monitoring?
Ankle monitors or electronic ankle monitors are not reserved for the rich, meaning, anyone who fits the criteria has the legal right to petition for it. However, the costs involved may put a severe strain on your finances. Across the country, an ankle monitor may cost you anywhere from $5 to $30 a day.
What to remember:
- If convicted of certain sex crimes, the individual may have to wear an ankle monitor for life.
- The accused covers the cost of electronic monitoring.
- In some states, there must be a landline telephone in the home to qualify.
- You must change the batteries or charge the monitor daily. If the monitoring center loses your signal for extended periods, you may have to go back to jail.
- Missing payments may lead to incarceration.
- Removing, tampering, or altering the device is a punishable offense.
- You cannot remove the device when getting an X-ray, mammogram, CT scan, or other medical procedures that the device may interfere with.
Why do I need a landline with my ankle monitor?
As mentioned, if the court orders you to wear an electronic monitor in some jurisdictions. One requirement is that there must be a landline telephone in the home. The reason for that is to track your movement. How? The ankle monitor obtains a repeating coded signal from the bracelet. Depending on the model. The system may also detect tampering, alterations, attempted removals, and damage. For this to happen, the system may need a landline.
What you need to remember is that the phone cannot have caller ID, call waiting, or call forwarding, we recommend checking with your parole officer.
How do you petition the court for electronic monitoring?
In Montgomery County Pennsylvania, for example, you will have to fill out a House Arrest Suitability Application, See the screenshot below or download the file here. If you are in jail or on parole, or probation, you may ask your parole or case officer for an application. To complete the application; You will need a letter from the people you live with acknowledging that home incarceration will not negatively affect them and not jeopardize your success if accepted into the program. A letter from your employer, another from your counsellor. Or a letter from your doctor if you have a medical issue.
We recommend consulting with an attorney before making this decision.
What happens if you tamper or remove electronic monitoring equipment?
State laws vary, but in general, removing or tampering with an electronic monitoring device is unlawful. For example, in Louisiana, intentional removal, destruction, disabling, or altering electronic monitoring equipment is a crime punishable by up to six months in prison and a five hundred dollar fine. That is according to RS 14:110.2 Tampering with Electronic Monitoring Equipment.
As an example,in Florida, 948. 11 electronic monitoring devices reads in part, quote:
“The Department of Corrections may contract with local law enforcement agencies to assist in the location and apprehension of offenders who are in noncompliance as reported by the electronic monitoring system. This contract is intended to provide the department a means for providing immediate investigation of noncompliance reports, especially after normal office hours.”2020 Florida Statutes – Electronic Monitoring Devices 948.11
Remember that tampering with ankle monitors is a violation of your terms of release, and if you are under investigation or the court ordered you to stay within the area, it may lead to arrest.
While it is illegal to tamper or remove an ankle monitor, it is not illegal to cover or disguise it with clothing. You can wear loose-fitting pants or even use this ankle cover that is meant to look like a regular ankle brace.
What are the rules for wearing an ankle monitor?
During sentencing, the judge will specify the terms of your release. The court may impose travel restrictions, places you can and cannot go, and how long you must wear the device. If ordered by the court to wear an ankle monitor, there are rules to follow:
- Stick to the agreed schedule: if the court orders you not to be within 500 feet of a school or to avoid certain sections of the city, you will need court approval to enter the “red” areas.
- Pay all fees: as mentioned, failure to pay ankle monitor maintenance fees will lead to incarceration and continuation of the prison sentence plus fines and more jail time.
- You must keep a job: if you lose a job, it may mean the continuation of your sentence.
- Attend parole or probation meetings: terms of release contain mandatory meetings with your parole officer, failure to attend these meetings will lead to incarceration.
- Do not tamper with the ankle monitor: tampering, attempting to remove, or damaging the device will lead to incarceration.
What if you try to remove an ankle monitor?
As soon as a bolt cutter, blow torch, or other device causes damage to the device, the monitoring unit sends a text to the monitoring center, or an alarm goes off on heavy-duty monitors. However, most pre-offenders get the cheaper thin rubber cuffs, these are easier to remove, but if you remove them, you are violating the law and risking more jail time and fines. Plus, once cut, or damaged. The monitor will send a text message to the monitoring center triggering law enforcement response.
Does the state know where you are all the time?
Like all devices, ankle monitors malfunction at times, and sometimes they run out of batteries. Because of that, the state holds the offender accountable for compliance, meaning you may get punished if you do not report a device malfunction.
What to remember:
- Do not let your ankle monitor run out of power.
- If the device malfunctions, contact your parole officer.
- If you cut the monitor, the device will notify law enforcement.