CHICAGO (CBS) — A new electronic monitoring service, used by the courts in the Chicago area as an alternative to staying behind bars, has some questioning if the high tech ankle bracelets go too far.
The young people and families who come through the Precious Blood Ministry of Reconciliation have been impacted by violence or incarceration. Some seek Father David Kelly’s help to get a job or learn a skill as they are court ordered to wear an electronic monitoring ankle bracelet.
“There’s a stigma to having that machine on your leg,” Kelly said. “Even the old ones had a bulge that people could see.
In January Cook County signed a more than $4 million contract with Track Group, a Naperville electronic monitoring company used for both adults and juveniles.
The new tracking ankle bracelets promise longer battery life, and they’re tough to cut off and equipped with a communications feature, recording conversations and potentially used in court.
The office of the chief judge said in a statement, in part:
“These communications allow the juvenile to remain in compliance with court-ordered electronic monitoring to avoid further arrest and/or detention.”
“I think it invades their privacy, who they are as human beings,” Kelly said. “It’s a way of shaming our young people, and that’s detrimental to who they are as a person.”
Elizabeth Clarke of the Juvenile Justice Initiative said, “It’s certainly troubling.”
Clarke also recognizes potential privacy concerns, asking who’s listening when?
The communications feature automatically activates after a vibration and a sound.
“We’ve been way behind other countries in recognizing evaluations transparency oversight,” Clarke said.
“To invade someone’s privacy, to invade someone’s home, the sanctity of their home is just wrong,” Kelly said.
The new bracelets were rolled out in February, but just this week the office of the chief judge ordered the communications and recording features on the devices be disabled as they review them.