Three decades after electronic ankle bracelets tracking offenders were introduced as a crime-fighting tool, they have proliferated so much that officials are struggling to handle an avalanche of monitoring alerts that are often nothing more sinister than a dead battery, lost satellite contact, or someone arriving home late from work, reports the Associated Press. AP says that, “Amid all that white noise, alarms are going unchecked, sometimes on defendants now accused of new crimes.”
Some agencies don’t have clear protocols on how to handle the alerts, or don’t always follow them. At times, officials have taken days to act, if they noticed at all, when criminals tamper with their bracelets or broke a curfew. The perception “that these people are being watched 24 hours a day by someone in a command center. That’s just not happening,” said Rob Bains of Florida’s Ninth Judicial Circuit Court, which this spring halted its monitoring programs after two people on the devices were accused in separate shootings. At least 100,000 sex offenders, parolees and people free on bail or probation wear ankle bracelets that can sound an alarm if they leave home without permission, fail to show up for work or linger near a playground or school.