Philadelphia upgrading home monitoring with ankle bracelets with GPS

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The Special Committee on Criminal Justice Reform in Philadelphia City Council says the city won’t be able to keep people out of jail without new GPS ankle monitors.  

Philadelphia can now monitor about 300 people via ankle bracelets.  They’re “old school” and demand a landline telephone to work.  Now the city has a grant to buy 700 wireless ones that run on GPS.   

Michael Bouchard, director of pre-trial services for the First Judicial District says the trick is they need about $200,000 more to pay for the wireless service that keeps track of the ankle monitors.

“Our current system is very outdated and needs to be replaced,” he said.  “Adding these units will allow us to decrease the length of stay, for people who are going to be placed on electronic monitoring they spend less time in jail and those previously ineligible will now be able to be released due to technological updates.”

Many people who want to be released from jail don’t have landline telephones needed to use the existing units.  It can take up to six weeks to install a landline phone.

A grant is paying for 700 wireless units known as EM units and 100 wired units (for those who do have a landline), but operating funding is still necessary, including some for staff to monitor the larger number of people being held in their homes.

 “All of this is part of a goal to control the unnecessary pre-trial incarceration while maintianing public safety and decreasing the number of people who spend time in jail while awaiting trial,” said Bouchard.  “The goal is to reduce damaging collateral consequences  and future recidivism.”

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