GPS ankle bracelets track inmates outside jail

GPS ankle bracelets track inmates outside jail »Play Video
The red dots show the location of jail inmates who are out in the community wearing electronic ankle bracelets.

EUGENE, Ore. - Inmates in Lane County continue to get early releases, so sheriff's deputies are finding ways to keep tabs on offenders.

One solution: adding a high tech twist to an old accessory.

Electronic surveillance devices have been used in Lane County since the 1980s, but as more inmates are getting out early, authorities are accessorizing these offenders with tougher technology.

The Lane County Sheriff's Department is taking GPS to a whole new level with the help of bracelets.

"It will show a point for every minute of where the offender is, so as they're walking down the street, every minute it's logging their position," said Lane County Sheriff's Deputy Curtis Brooks.

Wednesday morning, deputies got nine electronic surveillance devices to help them keep an eye on low-risk offenders like John O'Neal.

"I have to plug it in at night for two hours. Just charge it up. It feels weird to wear, but it's better than sitting in jail I guess," said O'Neal.

"In the past, all we've had is radio frequency. We knew if the offender was at their house or if they were away from their house. Once they left their house, we didn't know where they were unless they were being honest with us and tell us where they were," said Brooks.

Once an offender is determined eligible to wear the ankle bracelet, authorities give him or her a handbook of rules. If the offender violates any of those rules, Lane County Sheriffs Office staff are notified via email.

"If I wanted. I mean I could get it off if I wanted to. I could cut it off if I wanted to," said O'Neal.

But deputies say that's rare, and research shows the likelihood they'll commit crimes again is actually reduced in some cases.

"We could have him serve his sentence in his home, attend treatment programs and actually have a higher chance of not offending in the future," said Brooks.

If the bracelet is cut, the price tag to repair it is $85. The offender offsets those bills by paying $11 a day to wear it.