Washington D.C. GPS Monitoring Appears Ineffective In Deterring Violent Crimes – Similar Problem in Jacksonville?

According to statistics from Washington D.C.’s Pretrial Services Agency, of 1,351 defendants who were released with GPS ankle bracelets to track their movements, 110 were arrested and charged with new crimes. Nearly a dozen crimes were violent, including armed robbery, assault and attempted child sex abuse. These arrests highlight the difficult choice that judges, attorneys, prosecutors and other officials face as they consider when and whether to put potentially dangerous defendants back on the streets while they await trial. With crowded jails and halfway houses causing inefficiency, electronic monitoring gives judges and court officials another option for keeping track of defendants’ whereabouts; however, the decision should be weighed more reasonably and cautiously.

An ankle monitor, or tether is a device that at timed intervals, will send a radio frequency signal containing location and other information to a receiver. If an the individual wearing the anklet moves outside of an allowed range, the police will be notified. Ankle monitors are designed to be tamper-resistant and can alert authorities to removal attempts, such as cutting the conductive band causing a circuit break. imagesanklet.jpg

Courts and law enforcement have dramatically increased their employment of electronic monitoring programs to effectively monitor offenders. These Offender monitoring programs come in the form of GPS tethers and GPS ankle bracelets and have proven to be an invaluable asset in the success of sex offender monitoring. Law enforcement, Department of Juvenile Justice, and other agencies use GPS monitoring to track criminals considered moderate or high-risk by the courts, likely those who constantly commit crimes, and may possibly get out and commit more crimes.

Many GPS trackers used for certain criminal offenders are much more advanced than average trackers, and give officers the ability to monitor the offender from the moment they leave the jail, regardless if they are indoors or outdoors. Pairing a single-piece monitoring device with web-based software, these ankle monitors uses active GPS and assisted GPS technology to track indoors, where GPS alone cannot reach.

Electronic monitoring can be set up as “active” or “passive.” Active monitoring is designed to give real-time reports of violations. Passive monitoring provides violation reports to the appropriate officer the next day. Almost all states use the active monitoring method.
The most common arrangement for ankle monitor usage will be where the anklet sends the radio frequency signal to a fixed location receiving unit in the offender’s residence. The residence unit uses either land-line or other form of telephone service to send the information to a service center computer. If the offender is not at the residence during the period specified, an alert is sent to the service center and the supervising probation or parole officer.

A court may force the offender to pay the cost of the electronic monitoring services, which can be in excess of $5 per day. If the court finds that the defendant is indigent and unable to pay, it must waive the costs.

The Judge has the discretion to choose whether the defendant should be a worthy candidate for electronic monitoring. However, in D.C., as well as Jacksonville, criminal defendants are sometimes wrongfully charged with crimes elevated crimes, and vice versa. Because of increased pressure from the State, society, and other forces within the community to more strictly monitor every potential violent offender while subconsciously countering overcrowding prison costs, Judges and the State may rush one’s only chance for the ankle monitor and for one to show one’s willingness to cooperate outside of jail.

One in a situation such as this should obtain an experienced Jacksonville violent crimes defense attorney to fight the case and ensure one’s rights, defenses, and options are known and protected. One cannot fight this battle alone. With the help of an experienced attorney, one can be sure that this mistake will be whited out of one’s life and become a thing of the past.


The Forbess Law Firm has been aiding clients who face criminal charges in Jacksonville for years and are here to provide aggressive criminal defense to anyone accused of a crime. If you or a loved one require a Jacksonville criminal defense lawyer, contact our firm today. We are available through our website or by calling us at 904-634-0900.

Additional Source: 11 defendants on GPS monitoring charged with violent crimes in past year in D.C., Keith L. Alexander, The Washington Post