Digital Jails Are Here And Closer Than You Might Think

July 24, 2019

Ankle monitors are being promoted as a good alternative to jail if you’re trying to avoid ending up in a cell. But the hard truth is, this is just a different kind of jail - you carry the cell around and the steel bars are digital.

But this “reform” comes at a cost. 

Private companies charge steep prices to people who can’t pay for their ankle monitors up front. And if you can’t pay, you can end up in a jail cell because of the debt you accumulate. These also come with tons of life restrictions that, if violated, can ALSO send you to a jail cell. 

You also have to charge your monitor and take care of the device. An ankle monitor from a company like emass might require you to pay $10 A DAY. If you’re poor, this expense may be a one way ticket back to arrest - this is how people are being funnelled back to incarceration. 

Black people are disproportionately being targeted by monitors in places like Cook County, Illinois, where ProPublica reports we “make up 24% of the population, and 67% of those on monitors.”

Placing the burden of paying for ankle monitors onto defendants is something cities and states are doing to save money since it costs less than housing someone in a cell. This is basically a digital jail that YOU have to pay for yourself, and that’s NOT what progress looks like.

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