1995Public Service

Electronic Ankle Cuffs Aren't Foolproof

Melvin Claxton
December 21, 1994

Richard Price created the electronic monitoring device used by several counties in Florida to keep track of accused people on pretrial release.

Ankle bracelets emitting radio signals set off a telephone-computer monitor if the wearer leaves the confinement area.

Price says his system, similar to the one used in the territory, was created for one type of offender: people charged with misdemeanors.

But the Virgin Islands has even put people charged with murder on the system.

"The intent was never to put violent criminals on the system," Price says.

How effective is it?

"It's not a leash," Price says. "It doesn't guarantee that the individual will stay where you put him. It would tell you if he left. But it won't tell where he is gone to."

The only people checking to see whether anyone wearing an electronic bracelet goes out of confinement work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. They don't work nights, they don't work weekends and they don't work holidays.

So violent criminals are left unmonitored at least half the time.

Price has a strong warning:

"Like any system, if you try hard enough you can beat it."