Twenty-four hours a day, whether she’s jogging, sleeping or managing a pool hall, Bari Williams of suburban Washington, D.C., wears a high-tech sensor on her ankle that can detect the faintest whiff of alcohol in her perspiration. If she sneaks a drink, the device will know it — and so will a judge, who could put her behind bars for violating a court order to avoid alcoholic beverages, reports the Washington Post. At $12 a day, the anklet is a bargain, compared with $150 a day to house a minor offender such as Williams in her county’s jail, and far less than the $24,332 a year it costs Virginia to keep a felon in state prison.
Best of all, backers say, Williams and other offenders pay the bill. The biometric anklet represents a technological breakthrough whose popularity is gaining as state and local governments search for ways to close budget deficits during the recession. More than half of all states have slashed spending on corrections this year, while some, including New Hampshire, Michigan, California and now Virginia, are closing prisons, releasing prisoners early, or expanding the use of electronic monitoring.