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Juveniles to get ankle monitors
Author: By Shea AndersenSANTA FE - Bernalillo County is about to put electronic leashes on some juvenile delinquents instead of locking them up.
The county has signed a $75,000 purchase order with a Virginia company to buy 20 satellite-monitored ankle bracelets the court system can attach to nonviolent juvenile delinquents, allowing them to roam free while monitored.
\"It\'s not a substitute for incarceration,\" said Alan Armijo, chairman of the Bernalillo County Commission. \"It\'s an extension.\"
Armijo said he\'s working with the family court division of District Court to get another $125,000 for more units.
The move is in conjunction with efforts by lawmakers in Santa Fe to revise the criteria for juvenile services grants, allowing the state to use ankle bracelets in place of more expensive incarceration.
\"We\'re trying to supervise more children in the communities,\" said Rep. Tom Swisstack, a Rio Rancho Democrat who is director of the Bernalillo County Juvenile Detention Center. \"For us, that\'s a major breakthrough.\"
The bracelets cost about $10 a day per child, Swisstack said. But, he said, it costs about $135 a day to house an offender.
\"We\'re paying top dollar\" to house nonviolent juvenile offenders, he said.
Swisstack is the sponsor of HB 525, which would allow communities to enter into grant arrangements - such as paying for technology like the ankle bracelets - as alternatives to imprisonment.
Swisstack and Armijo were on hand in the Roundhouse with officials from Satellite Tracking of People LLC to demonstrate the technology. The ankle bracelets, which might be like attaching a bulky iPod to one\'s ankle, are called Blutag. They use global positioning system technology to track a person. According to Brian Moran, vice president for operations of Satellite Tracking, offenders could be tracked via computer on a map showing once per minute where the subject was.
District Court Judge Angela Jewel of Albuquerque said the device was a good extra solution for judges dealing with certain offenders.
\"We are hopeful that this new technology will assist us in enforcing orders of protection,\" Jewel said. \"It\'s a tool; it\'s not a panacea.\"
Armijo said he was hoping the technology would save the county money on maintenance of juvenile lockups.
\"This is cost-saving,\" Armijo said. \"It helps out our families and helps out our kids.\"
Date GPS article was written: Fri 03/04/2005