The Evolution of Electronic Monitoring Devices

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In this photo from the mid-1960s, Kirk Gable, a co-founder of the electronic monitoring belt, uses war surplus missile-tracking equipment to track young adult offenders who are wearing the first electronic monitoring devices. (Robert Gable via NPR)

One of the most common fees in the criminal justice system is a charge for electronic ankle bracelets – a device that is largely used to allow offenders to serve time at home instead of in jail. The monitor tracks the offenders’ whereabouts, and alerts the police if they aren’t where they’re supposed to be.

However, the original purpose behind these devices was vastly different.

NPR’s Emma Anderson discusses the evolution of the electronic ankle bracelet as part of an NPR investigation into how fees are creating inequities in the criminal justice system.


  • Emma Anderson, NPR Correspondent.
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