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Using GPS for Electronic Home Monitoring

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 12/17/2010

House arrest has its benefits for law enforcement officials. But, what are they? And, how does GPS electronic home monitoring work? Learn more here.

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    How It Works

    GPS electronic home monitoring is commonly referred to as home detention or house arrest, and it is a method of keeping track of criminals, especially non-dangerous ones. Basically, a person sentence to house arrest wears an ankle bracelet. The person cannot remove the bracelet, and he cannot go outside a certain perimeter. But, there’s more to electronic home monitoring than simply ensuring that the criminal doesn’t leave his house.

    If you think about a bracelet, then you are probably of thinking that this item can be removed. But, you can’t remove it. You can’t even tamper with it. If you do, the bracelet sends out GPS signal that alerts the police station that you have tried manipulating the device. More than likely, a police officer will show up at your house.

    The same thing happens if you go outside your designated perimeter. Usually, you are allowed to go to work, to the doctor’s office or to court-mandated treatments. But, other than that, you are not allowed to go anywhere else. For example, if you are sentenced to house arrest due to drunk driving, then the courts don’t want you hanging out anywhere near a bar.

    In fact, if you are a drunk driver, you may even have a breath test device as part of your bracelet set. Basically, as soon as you walk in the door, you have to give a breath sample. If the device detects that you have been drinking, it will automatically report it, and it will go into your record. Your device is continually reporting your activities back to a recording station.

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    Tracking Parolees

    While these devices are often used on those sentenced to house arrest, even parolees can be tracked with these devices. For example, California is now using these devices to track sex offenders and gang members. It can see if these offenders are heading into locations where they don’t belong and practically track their every move.

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    What It Costs

    But, why are more and more law enforcement agencies starting to use the GPS electronic home monitoring system? Well, it’s cheaper for one. According to GPS Monitoring Solutions, California pays less than $9.00 a day to track a criminal using the GPS device. Now, compare that to over $55 per day to keep them in jail.

    Plus, there just isn’t enough space to fit every criminal in jails. So, sentences need to be lighter, but there are certain criminals that you just don’t want released into the general public again without some type of monitoring. For example, sex offenders have been known to skip town and set up in another area. So, keeping track of them is of vital importance.

    Further, certain parole violators are just not worth sending back to jail. It’s easier and less costly to just keep them in their home under house arrest.

    While GPS electronic home monitoring is still in the early stages, it’s expected to take off around the country.