Often, judges will require someone to wear an ankle bracelet. This is a normal step for first-time and non-violent offenders, as well as those about to go on parole. 

The ankle bracelets transmit a GPS signal, making it easier for authorities to track your location.

In addition, some ankle bracelets also have microphones designed to be used by law enforcement as a way of identifying you. 

Understandably, some civil libertarians and prisoner advocacy groups are concerned about the threat to privacy presented by ankle bracelets with microphones.

How Do Ankle Bracelets Work?

Most ankle bracelets will transmit your movement through radio frequency or GPS. With a radio frequency, authorities will know if you’re at a certain location. A GPS ankle bracelet will provide constant updates of your location. 

If you’re required to wear an ankle bracelet, the court will give you instructions you’re expected to follow. These requirements usually include limiting your movement within certain times. 

This doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t leave your home indefinitely. Depending on the circumstances of your situation, you could still be allowed to attend religious services, go to a doctor’s visit, go to school, etc. 

If you leave a restricted area, a signal is sent to a field officer who will investigate.

Who Is Listening to the Ankle Bracelet Microphones?

The primary purpose of an ankle bracelet microphone is for the monitoring service or authorities to be able to identify you when they check in. 

Some ankle bracelets are designed to vibrate when someone is trying to reach you. Others enable authorities to call you on the ankle bracelet itself. 

In addition to having a microphone, some ankle bracelets have the ability to record you as well. Even though they are supposed to alert you when they’re recording, there have been issues.

Some reports have claimed that ankle bracelets have recorded conversations without notifying the wearer. 

How Effective Are Ankle Bracelets?

Studies have shown that high risk offenders released on parole with a GPS device had a re-offense rate 38 percent lower than those without the device. 

But ankle bracelets are not foolproof. Batteries often lose power, which means the signal is then lost. Nearby frequencies can also interfere with a signal’s strength. 

The true effectiveness of an ankle bracelet depends on whether someone is actually wearing it. There are many instructional “how to” videos online showing how to remove the monitors. 

As for getting people to appear in court, studies have shown that most people will show up for their appearance in court with a traditional phone call or text reminder. 

How Many People Wear Ankle Bracelets?

Beyond overcrowding, there is a host of other reasons for why more people accused of crimes are having to wear ankle bracelets.

  • It’s more affordable. The average annual cost of keeping someone in jail is well over $31,000. The monitoring costs of house arrest are much less. 
  • Bracelets can be used for more than tracking. Some ankle bracelets are equipped with sensors that let authorities know if you’ve been drinking alcohol or taking drugs

In response to jail and prison overcrowding, the number of people required to wear ankle bracelets skyrocketed 140% between the years 2005-2015. 

Nationally, more than 125,000 U.S. citizens wear ankle bracelets. 

Who Pays for Ankle Bracelets?

If you’re required to wear an ankle bracelet, you’ll have to pay the set-up fee and a monthly service fee for the monitoring.  

What Should I Do If I’m Ordered to Wear an Ankle Bracelet?

The best advice is to do as the court says. While you may be tempted to pry it loose, the penalties – heavy fines and jail time – are too severe.

If you suspect your ankle bracelet is not operating as it should, your best course of action is to tell your criminal defense attorney, the monitoring service, and your parole officer as soon as possible. 

Should I Ask for House Arrest with an Ankle Bracelet?

House arrest may not be ideal, but it’s definitely better than going to jail. You stand a good chance of getting house arrest with an ankle bracelet if:

  • You’re not a repeat offender
  • You’re not accused of a violent crime (aggravated burglary, domestic violence, homicide, etc.) and are unlikely to hurt others
  • You’ve got a job
  • The judge rules that jail time is too severe for your offense. 

The best way to protect your freedom is to get in touch with a criminal defense attorney in Cincinnati as soon as you’ve been charged. Your attorney will be able to guide you through the process and position you for the best possible outcome.