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House Arrest Ankle Bracelet: Your Comprehensive Guide to Electronic Monitoring

Troy Holmes
Troy Holmes
What Is a House Arrest Bracelet?

In the face of persistent overcrowding issues, with federal prisons operating at nearly 103% capacity as of 2021, the United States has been compelled to seek alternative sentencing methods. House arrest, often enforced through the use of a house arrest ankle bracelet, emerges as a viable solution. This electronic monitoring device ensures compliance by transmitting real-time location data to law enforcement. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, the number of individuals monitored with electronic devices has soared, indicating a shift towards this form of correctional supervision. This approach not only alleviates prison populations but also allows offenders to maintain employment and family connections, underscoring a balance between public safety and rehabilitation.

A house arrest bracelet sends a constant positioning signal to a base monitoring system.
A house arrest bracelet sends a constant positioning signal to a base monitoring system.

A house arrest bracelet typically comes in the form of an ankle bracelet. It is about the size of a large watch and attaches to the ankle with a set of snap rivets. It is difficult for the offender to remove and many devices trigger an alarm if they are tampered with.

The bracelet transmits an electronic signal that is similar to a geographic positioning tracking system (GPS). This bracelet sends a constant positioning signal to a base monitoring system, which monitors house arrest inmates to ensure they do not leave the confinement of their detained area. The detained area typically includes the outside parameter of the home to allow for trash removal and lawn maintenance.

Most prisons within the United States are overcrowded.
Most prisons within the United States are overcrowded.

This type of detention option is only available for non serious criminals. If the detainee attempts to leave his home or remove his house arrest bracelet an alarm is automatically sent to the police department. This tampering action is typically considered an escape attempt and leads to prison time.

House arrest monitoring equipment is the computer hardware that ensures an individual stays in a confined area for the duration of his sentence. This equipment is installed in the detainee's residence, to verify the offender's compliance with the sentence. This equipment typically includes a bracelet and special phone devices that takes photos and breath samples.

House arrest is not typically not used for criminals who commit serious crimes.
House arrest is not typically not used for criminals who commit serious crimes.

The monitoring process begins with a random phone call to the detainee. The equipment will then take a photo, voice response, and breathe sample during the phone conversation. This process ensures the offender is continually wearing the house arrest bracelet and not using alcohol during his sentence.

Ankle monitoring bracelets were first used as a detention alternative in the early 80s. During that time they were hardwired with phones lines and used to monitor prisoners on work-release probation and other non-violent criminals. Today, with Internet GPS applications, many courts have expanded monitoring devices to track sexual predators. This device can signal the police when a known predator is close to schools or other restricted areas.

What Is the Ankle Bracelet for House Arrest Called?

With the overcrowding of many prisons, sometimes there is no room for additional offenders, and alternatives need to be explored. One alternative is a punishment called house arrest, in which an offender is confined to his or her home instead of a prison. In order to ensure that an offender does in fact remain inside the residence, authorities will place an ankle bracelet on the offender which tracks movement and, depending on the situation, whether the offender has been drinking alcohol. Also called an ankle monitor, these devices are connected wirelessly to the internet and have the ability to take breath samples and photos. The technical term for an ankle monitor that has alcohol monitoring capabilities is a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring, or SCRAM, bracelet.

How Do House Arrest Ankle Bracelets Work?

House arrest ankle bracelets work by connecting to the internet wirelessly and sending a continuous signal to satellite receivers which can then detect the location of the bracelet and its user. Local authorities such as the police and parole officers have access to the tracking data and can intervene if the ankle monitor (and its user) is someplace it should not be - namely, outside of the residence.

Do House Arrest Bracelets Have GPS?

House arrest bracelets are wirelessly connected to the internet and equipped with GPS tracking software which is monitored remotely by authorities. In the earlier days, house arrest bracelets were hardwired to telephone lines, but today, no such connection is needed.

Can Ankle Monitors Record Conversations?

Some ankle monitors have microphones that pick up sounds – including conversations – which occur around the offender. Authorities may be able to listen in real-time or listen to a recording depending on the technology. Currently, only Indiana and Illinois are known to use this kind of technology, but it is possible that other states will adopt it soon.

How Far Can You Go Outside With an Ankle Bracelet?

Contrary to its name, you are not under total house arrest. You can go up to 50 feet outside your residence and sometimes up to 125 feet depending on the technology and GPS accuracy. Be careful in testing this theory, as there is no way to determine if you are right, but you will find out quickly if you are wrong!

Are Ankle Monitors Uncomfortable?

The short answer is yes. They can be sweaty and clunky, and some users report that a major discomfort results from the monitor bouncing up and down on the ankle bone. To alleviate this somewhat, you can wear a rolled-down sock or strip of fluffy cloth on top of the ankle bone to cushion the impact. Don’t place anything between the monitor and your skin, however, or this may trigger a response from authorities who think you have taken it off because the monitor is no longer transmitting data.

How Tight Should the Ankle Monitor Be?

There is no requirement for your ankle monitor to be extremely tight against your skin, but that doesn’t mean you can wear it very loosely around your ankle. The monitor needs to fit snugly enough to take accurate readings. Wearing it too loosely can prevent these readings which will prompt a response from authorities. Also, wearing it too loosely can result in uncomfortable bouncing and flopping when walking, so it’s important to find a comfortable and snug fit.

Can You Trick an Ankle Monitor?

Being under house arrest is no fun at best and completely debilitating at worst, and you may want to find ways to trick your ankle monitor into sending inaccurate readings to authorities. People have no doubt tried a million different ways to trick an ankle monitor, but there is no good data on how successful these tactics are. Some people suggest attaching the ankle monitor to a piece of lunch meat or keeping the device submerged in water. However, if you are caught attempting to trick your ankle monitor, you will likely be removed from house arrest and given a harsher punishment (such as prison) or an additional charge.

Can I Wear My Ankle Monitor Everywhere?

The short answer is yes. If you have permission from your parole officer to fly in a plane while wearing the ankle monitor, you may do so – the Transportation Security Administration will not bar you from flying. You can wear the monitor in an X-ray machine or CT scan, but an MRI scan will require you to remove the device. You may wear the ankle monitor in water, a sauna, a tanning booth, and at the beach. Ankle monitors are durable and can withstand significant heat, cold, and water.

Discussion Comments


Is there any way to hinder the electronic signal from the GPS ankle bracelet for a short time?


I have been implanted with a tracking system in my body. This was done by making me ingest something while I was sleeping. I had taken a medication to make me sleep and the perpetrators broke into my home and this was done.

I have been living with this system for 10 months. I have gone to government agencies to help and this cannot be traced in this country so far. Is this something sold on the black market? If you know, answer me.


@ALevine - I have to agree with alianor. I think it's taking it far too lightly to let sexual predators loose in society. There's a saying: "Where there's a will, there's a way". Anyone who really wants to commit a crime badly enough will do whatever they can to do so. Even if they're wearing a house arrest band, there's always a chance that the authorities might not get there in time to stop them.


@alianor - Re: sexual predators - good point but I think they're tracked and monitored well enough that they can't really do anything. And house arrest ankle bracelets are so clunky and obvious. If anyone saw it, they'd most likely stay away.


While I do have issues with letting prisoners out simply due to overcrowded jails, I have to admit that a house arrest band or anklet is a pretty good solution for very minor crimes. I can't help thinking of Lindsay Lohan. It's essentially like being grounded for grown-ups. Back to Lindsay though, if it's simply a matter of someone being irresponsible, then it's somewhat acceptable to sentence them to house arrest. The article also mentions sexual predators and I think it's just incredibly creepy to let them even risk approaching possible victims.

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    • A house arrest bracelet sends a constant positioning signal to a base monitoring system.
      By: stocksolutions
      A house arrest bracelet sends a constant positioning signal to a base monitoring system.
    • Most prisons within the United States are overcrowded.
      By: Jean-Jacques Cordier
      Most prisons within the United States are overcrowded.
    • House arrest is not typically not used for criminals who commit serious crimes.
      By: James Steidl
      House arrest is not typically not used for criminals who commit serious crimes.