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Ankle bracelets can come at a heavy cost

Many people in Pennsylvania and across the country have been interested in electronic ankle bracelets as an alternative to imprisonment. Commonly used in white-collar cases, people like Paul Manafort and Harvey Weinstein have been released on bail while their movement is tracked. A more controversial use of the systems arose when Immigration and Customs Enforcement began using the ankle bracelets for undocumented immigrant families after the scandal around the separation of parents from their children.

Across the country, the use of electronic ankle bracelets went up two-fold between 2005 and 2015. As many people have criticized the use of mass incarceration in the criminal justice system, especially its effect on communities of color, a response has been to increase the use of ankle bracelets. While it can appear more humane to allow people to go home and live outside of jail with an electronic GPS monitoring system, these technologies have serious downsides of their own. Many people who have never experienced it for themselves do not realize just how restrictive these technologies can be.

The ankle bracelets can be costly as well. While the price may not pose a barrier to people like Manafort or Weinstein, it can weigh heavily on the poor people who are the biggest victims of mass incarceration. People may have to pay up to $25 each day as a fee for the ankle bracelet, and they can be sent back to prison if they fall behind by as little as three days.

When people face criminal charges, they can be sentenced to prison, made to pay heavy fines or forced to deal with the difficulties of a GPS ankle bracelet. Accordingly, they might find it advisable to meet with an attorney as soon as possible so that a defense strategy can be constructed.

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