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Critics call ankle monitors unfair, costly and dangerous

| Aug 8, 2018 | Criminal Defense

At times, authorities will attach electronic monitoring systems to parolees or people awaiting trial in Virginia. Two men heading the Challenging E-Carceration Project have researched the negative aspects of ankle monitors and the excessive punishment that they place on people, especially those who have not yet been convicted of a crime.

Malfunctions caused by a lost GPS signal or battery failure sometimes land people in jail for days even if they were complying with court orders. Authorities often make no allowances for emergencies like a power outage or a cut requiring a trip to the hospital. Even notifying a parole officer about the need to visit the emergency room did not spare one man from 10 days of incarceration because he left his home.

These electronic devices could also interfere with medical treatment. People must wear them at all times, but machines that perform MRIs, X-rays, CT scans or mammograms cannot be used on people wearing ankle monitors.

Courts impose heavy costs upon people with ankle monitors. Fees range from $5 to $25 a day, and a failure to pay sends people back behind bars. Hidden costs, like the requirement to install a landline telephone or replacement fees if monitors break, add to the financial burdens placed on people.

Because decisions made in court could have unanticipated consequences, legal representation may help a person charged with a crime. Acting as the person’s advocate, an attorney may provide guidance within the criminal justice system and offer advice before someone answers questions or makes decisions. After evaluating the case, an attorney might suggest criminal defense strategies. By challenging evidence, an attorney may be able to get a case dismissed or a charge reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor.