An anonymous reader shares a report: In the past 18 months, as the judicial system has increasingly used electronic monitoring instead of prisons to monitor inmates through the coronavirus pandemic, newly released data confirm what activists and advocates have long argued: Ankle monitors are onerous, and they often subject wearers to vague rules, like avoiding people of "disreputable character." The ankle monitoring business, the research found, is also dominated by four profit-seeking companies, and it ultimately could drive more people back to prison. The new, comprehensive collection of hundreds of electronic monitoring-related rules, policies and contracts, obtained through public records requests across 44 states, demonstrates that four companies that make millions of dollars a year account for 64 percent of the contracts examined in the study. The companies -- Attenti, BI Inc., Satellite Tracking of People and Sentinel Offender Services LLC, according to the report -- also keep location data indefinitely, even after monitoring is completed, which is within the law. Governments also often require family members or employers to act as agents of the government and report potential violations, putting them in an awkward position in which they must be both supportive and supervisory.
Crucially, wearers must pay both one-time and ongoing fees for the monitors, which can be $25 to over $8,000 a year. The report argues that such costs "undermine financial security when it is needed most." By comparison, the Justice Department's Bureau of Prisons said in 2018 that it costs just under $100 per day to incarcerate a federal inmate, or over $36,000 a year. Put another way, wearers in Los Angeles and Sacramento counties in California, which impose the highest annual costs, according to the new findings, pay $22 a day -- still considerably less than what taxpayers would otherwise pay.