Prisons Replace Ankle Bracelets With An Expensive Smartphone App That Doesn’t Work
Maybe it will be a better idea someday, but that day isn’t here yet. Ankle bracelets are prone to unexpected failure, just like any other electronic device. False negatives — alerts saying a parolee isn’t at home — are no better than false positives in the long run, although the former is the only one that can take away someone’s freedom.
The costs of ankle bracelets are borne by the parolee. Smartphone apps may be slightly cheaper… but only if you don’t factor in the cost of a smartphone or the app itself. Smartphones aren’t easy for parolees to obtain.
Neither are the jobs needed to subsidize both the phone and the app’s monthly charge. Those lucky enough to secure a smartphone are discovering the new solution is just as prone to error as its predecessor. On the day Layla got out of prison and back to her home in Georgia, she was told she would need to purchase a smartphone—not an insignificant task for someone who’d just completed a sentence, but Layla was lucky to have a friend who could buy one for her.
She says she was at home in bed a few days later when the app she had been mandated to install under the terms of her release went off unexpectedly, the high-pitched warning alarm blaring as it sent a notification to her parole officers telling him that she was not, in fact, at home.