Ankle monitors continue to be the technology of choice for probation officers, but improvements continue to be made.
According to the Abilene corrections department, out of 3,000 criminals currently on probation in Taylor, Callahan, and Coleman counties, only about 25 have ankle monitors. Most of the people assigned a monitor are sex offenders.
This small devise uses GPS technology to track every place the offenders go, keeping them on constant surveillance.
"If someone is inclined to commit a violation of probation, going to an establishment they shouldn't go into, leave our jurisdiction without permission,” said Michael D. Wolfe, corrections department director. “We're going to know, this is constant surveillance.”
When a probationer is first given an ankle monitor, it is programmed with both curfew times and either an inclusion zone or an exclusion zone. The inclusion zone is where a criminal must stay and the exclusion zone is where a criminal cannot go. If a criminal attempts to cut off the band or disarm it, the probation officer is immediately notified.
“Because of fiber-optics in the band, it’s going to tell us immediately when it’s been cut,” said Wolfe.
Wolfe said there are the rare occasions where a criminal is reported being somewhere they weren’t. When that question arises, officers can double-check the system and verify that information.
"There are rare occasions where people will make accusations against offenders, they're coming by my house, they're going here, we saw them at such and such school, the use of this monitor confirms or denounces that," said Wolfe.
The program currently costs offenders $8 a day, which helps keep this program running.