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How Much Does A Prison Ankle Bracelet Cost?

Electronic monitoring has become an increasingly common alternative to incarceration in the criminal justice system. Ankle bracelets, also known as ankle monitors, allow corrections officials to track an individual’s location and movements while they are out on probation, parole, or pretrial release from jail.

Ankle bracelets are part of a larger electronic monitoring system that has three main components:

The Ankle Bracelet

This tamper-resistant device is worn around the ankle and contains tracking technology to monitor location and movements. It may also have features like alerts for inclusion or exclusion zones, recognizing tampering attempts, alcohol monitoring, and two-way communication.

A Central Monitoring Computer

Data from the ankle bracelet is transmitted to a central computer system that corrections staff use to monitor compliance. This computer system collects and analyzes data on the individual’s activities compared to restrictions and scheduled events like court dates, work shifts or drug testing.

Field Monitoring Equipment

Portable devices allow probation or parole officers to access location data on individuals when conducting field visits. This allows for random in-person compliance checks.

Electronic monitoring provides several advantages over incarceration or alternatives like house arrest. It allows individuals to maintain jobs, continue education, attend treatment programs and fulfill family responsibilities while their movements are closely surveilled. It also costs a fraction of what incarceration does.

However, there are also concerns around privacy, technological glitches and false alerts. As electronic monitoring expands in use, there are debates around how extensively it should be utilized as an alternative to incarceration.

Types of Ankle Bracelets

There are a few main types of ankle bracelets used for electronic monitoring by the corrections system:

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Active GPS Monitoring Bracelets

These devices actively track the wearer’s location at all times utilizing GPS satellites. They provide real-time location data and can create movement histories with time and date stamps. These are the most common type of device used for higher-risk individuals.

Passive RF Bracelets

RF stands for radio frequency. These devices communicate with a base unit that is installed at an individual’s home. They confirm that the wearer is within range of the base unit but do not actively track movements beyond that limited range. These are more common for lower-risk, house arrest situations.

Alcohol Monitoring Bracelets

Some ankle bracelets have alcohol monitoring capabilities using sensors that test sweat on the skin to detect alcohol consumption, which is prohibited for many parolees and probationers. Alerts are triggered if alcohol is detected.

Two-Way Communication Bracelets

Higher-end bracelets allow for two-way communication between the wearer and a monitoring center. This allows corrections officials to talk to monitored individuals when needed.

Ankle Bracelet Costs

The cost of an ankle bracelet will depend on the monitoring agency, the type of technology used, length of monitoring required and specific pricing contracts. However, here is an overview of typical ankle bracelet costs:

  • Monitoring agency fees – These can range from $2 to $15 per day. Agencies charge fees to cover the costs of the equipment, monitoring services and data storage.
  • Equipment costs – The ankle bracelet unit itself will initially cost between $150 to $500, though the wearer does not always have to directly pay this.
  • Activation & installation fees – Fees for getting set up on the system can range from $30 to $80.
  • False alert fines – Some monitoring agencies issue fines for false alerts caused by wearer negligence, like $25 per instance.
  • Damage or loss replacement fees – Damaged or lost equipment replacement can cost $200 to $800.
  • Early termination fees – If monitoring has to be ended early, some vendors charge fees around $300.

So on average, for active GPS monitoring spanning 6 months, total costs would be:

  • $1,350 to $2,700 for the monitoring service itself
  • Up to $500 for the equipment
  • Around $50 in activation/installation fees
  • Potentially several hundred more for false alerts or equipment issues

For shorter term passive RF monitoring, costs would likely be under $500 altogether.

Factors That Determine Ankle Bracelet Costs

There are several important factors that determine what an ankle bracelet will cost on a case-by-case basis:

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Type of Monitoring Technology

As previously mentioned, active GPS monitoring is more expensive than passive RF technology. More sophisticated technology costs more for vendors to provide.

Extent of Monitoring

Does the bracelet just collect location data, or are there also features like two-way communication or alcohol monitoring? More features mean higher costs.

Duration of Monitoring

The longer the monitoring period, the more it will ultimately cost. Longer term monitoring can span years in some cases.

The Monitoring Agency

There are multiple vendors that provide monitoring services. Their pricing models differ, so some agencies will charge more for the same services.

Contracts and Government Programs

Some monitoring agencies have pricing contracts in place with specific government entities that affect costs. There are also programs like grant funding that help subsidize electronic monitoring costs.

Who Pays for Prisoner Ankle Bracelets?

For those ordered to use an ankle bracelet as a condition of parole or probation, payment responsibility can vary:

  • In most cases, the individual wearer is required to cover some or all monitoring costs. This can be in the form of upfront payments and/or daily user fees.
  • Some states have programs where the government pays part of the costs, either through state funding or subsidies from programs like the National Institute of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs.
  • In limited cases, the entire costs are covered by government programs or nonprofits that assist with re-entry.
  • Some private bail bond agencies provide ankle bracelet services and pay the costs upfront as an incentive for clients to use them over jail bonds. The bail bond company then recoups their costs from bail bond fees.

So in summary, usually the wearer pays, sometimes the costs are shared with government entities, and occasionally subsidized programs cover all expenses. But having the wearer pay some of the costs is the most common scenario.

Table of Example Prices by State

StateMonitoring AgencyMonthly FeesUpfront Costs
FloridaCorrisoft$300$0 to $250
TexasSentinel$300 to $500$175 to $500
New YorkBuddi US$200 to $500$0 to $300
CaliforniaLeaders in Community Alternatives$350 to $550$250 to $325
IllinoisTrack Group$250 to $350$125 to $325

As shown in the table, monthly fees can range from $200 to over $500 depending on the state and agency. Upfront costs also vary significantly.

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In summary, prison ankle bracelets typically cost between a few hundred to a few thousand dollars altogether, with monthly monitoring fees, equipment costs, and additional fees comprising total pricing. Exact ankle bracelet costs depend on many factors like the monitoring technology used, the supervising agency, monitoring length, contracts in place, and what costs wearers are required to cover.

While not cheap, ankle bracelet monitoring provides an alternative to incarceration that is far less expensive than imprisoning someone for months or years. Moving forward, agencies and lawmakers will continue balancing costs and benefits as electronic monitoring expands in the criminal justice system.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to be on house arrest with an ankle bracelet?

Being on house arrest with an ankle bracelet generally costs $200 to $500 per month in monitoring fees, plus upfront costs like equipment and activation fees. Total costs for the full term of house arrest can range from around $1,000 to $5,000 depending on factors like monitoring technology and duration.

Do you have to pay for ankle monitor?

In most cases yes, the wearer is required to pay either all or some of the costs associated with their ankle monitor. This includes monthly monitoring fees and initial upfront equipment costs. However, some government programs provide full or partial subsidies in certain situations.

Can I get financial help paying for ankle monitor?

Yes, in some cases you can get financial assistance for the cost of an ankle monitor. Some nonprofit organizations like The Pew Charitable Trusts and the James Irvine Foundation have programs to help those re-entering society pay related costs. There are also government programs like the Office of Justice Programs that provide grants and funding to subsidize electronic monitoring fees.

Who pays for ankle bracelet when ordered by court?

When a court orders ankle bracelet monitoring as a condition of parole, probation or pretrial release, payment responsibility varies case-by-case. Usually the wearer pays fully or partially, but occasionally government entities or nonprofits will cover the costs when there is financial hardship. Some states have funding earmarked specifically to subsidize monitoring.

Can I deduct ankle monitor costs from taxes?

No, the IRS does not allow people to claim electronic monitoring fees or equipment costs as tax deductions. The only exception is if your profession requires use of an ankle monitor for documenting work activities, in which case tax deductions may be possible. But court-ordered monitoring costs cannot be deducted.

Prison Inside Team

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Welcome to ‘Prison Inside,’ a blog dedicated to shedding light on the often hidden and misunderstood world within correctional facilities. Through firsthand accounts, personal narratives, and insightful reflections, we delve into the lives of those who find themselves behind bars, offering a unique perspective on the challenges, triumphs, and transformations that unfold within the confines of these walls.

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