Ankle Bracelet Program Called Into Question

By: Candace Barnette Email
By: Candace Barnette Email

Law enforcement started using ankle bracelets like Shon Byrd was wearing several years ago when the juvenile center shut down. The bracelets serve as a way to monitor youth offenders before they're carried to the juvenile facility in Rankin County or as an alternative punishment. But how effective are they?

"Our system is broke," Sheriff Billy Sollie says. "The message is not going out to our youth. After they reach a certain age, they start believing that society, the courts, law enforcement, school teachers, you can't do anything to me."

Sheriff Sollie says there are problems with the bracelets. The biggest issue is that the bracelets are merely trackers and cannot keep the juvenile wearing them from actually committing crimes. Byrd is one of many to be arrested for doing so.

"No matter what safe guards you put in place, no matter what restrictions you put in place, that ankle monitor is not going to stop a child from going outside the parameters or doing something illegal," Judge Frank Coleman explains. "It's just a tracking device."

The law has certain stipulations about when the bracelets can be used in place of incarceration. The severity of the crime determines if they're used and which type should be worn. There is a large variety of these monitors. Some simply send out an alarm if the wearer is out past curfew and others keep the wearer confined to house arrest. But many don't take them seriously.

"It plagues our community because citizens don't feel safe. They feel that the youth have a disregard for life. They're indifferent as to who they affect, how they're affected," City Council Vice President Dustin Markham says.

"The question is what do you do with them once you pick them up. Evidently, putting ankle bracelets on them does not work. So it is a major problem," Council President George Thomas says.

The penalty for violating ankle monitor terms is jail time.


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