What Does an Ankle Monitor Actually Do?

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Mar 23

Lewis & Laws

What Does an Ankle Monitor Actually Do?

by Lewis & Laws

What Does an Ankle Monitor Actually Do?

When a person shows clear signs of substance abuse issues, prison can be the worst possible place for them. Instead, a judge may choose an alternate sentence, like work release or another type of diversion. Ankle monitors, in addition to being a fairly common plot device in television and films, are also a possible avenue.

However, their representation in the media is, unsurprisingly, not always 100% accurate.

What is an Ankle Monitor and How Does It Work?

Monitoring devices may seem excessive, but they’ve been incredibly useful in alternative sentencing. This is because they deter repeat behavior in more ways than one.

A typical ankle monitor, which is worn, as the name suggests, around the lower leg, help track the movements of individuals who have been sentenced to restricted travel or activities. Depending on a person’s sentence, they may be truly restricted to their own home, or may be permitted to travel to work and back.

Additionally, an ankle monitor can ensure that a person isn’t violating the terms of their sentence with regards to sobriety. A Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) bracelet (which was developed by a Seattle company!) can detect alcohol in a person’s sweat, thus alerting to authorities if the person violates the terms of their release by drinking.

The bracelets are waterproof and fairly lightweight, however, they aren’t permitted through airport security. So while it may be relatively noninvasive for a person who’s wearing it, it also ensures that they abide by their sentence.

Ankle Monitoring in Washington State

Diversions away from prison or jail time have become popular in Washington State, and especially Seattle, in the last five years. This is in part because they’re cheaper—many individuals sentenced to wearing an ankle monitor are actually forced to pay for it themselves as part of the sentence—but also because they really work to deter people from reoffending.

According to a 2013 report, thousands of Washington residents were using SCRAM bracelets as part of an alternative sentence.

“"When you look at compliance rates in Washington they mirror what we see nationally, meaning when offenders are on SCRAM they are sober and get through the entire program 77 percent of the time," Dan Altvater, a representative from Alcohol Monitoring Systems, told MyNorthwests. "On any given day if you break that data down, 99.3 percent of them are sober each day."

In 2013, Washington State passed a law that both strengthened DUI laws—and made it easier for SCRAM bracelets to be used for first-time and nonviolent offenders. Since then, more and more individuals have been able to avoid jail time while working through drug and alcohol treatment programs from the comfort of their own home.

If You’ve Been Charged with a DUI, Alternative Sentencing Might Be Right for You

The attorneys at Baker, Lewis Schwisow & Laws, PLLC, have decades of experience helping those who have been charged with drug crimes assess their options. We strive for the best possible outcome. To find out if you may be eligible for drug offender alternative sentencing, contact a Seattle drug crime defense lawyer today at 206.209.0608 or fill out our online contact form!

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