GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. -- According to North Carolina's Department of Public Safety, the number of kids wearing ankle monitors after committing crimes has doubled in the past three years. Some of the children are 12 years and younger. The majority are 15 years and older.
The state said the increase is not because more kids are getting in trouble, instead they're being punished in a different way.
"Around 2012, 2013, we actually upgraded to a new system. So, it's able to better keep track of the juveniles and gives us more options," Carmen Graves said, the chief court counselor in Guilford County for juvenile justice.
Graves said the old ankle monitoring system only ran off of landlines. So fewer kids wore them, because not as many people have landlines nowadays. Instead, most children were sent to a detention center. Graves said the new system does not require a landline phone, allowing them to monitor more kids wirelessly.
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"The electronic monitoring ensures the public's safety and the juvenile's safety and keeps them from having to go to be incarcerated. So, they can still meet with their therapy sessions," she said.
Graves said in many cases, it's better for the child to wear an ankle bracelet instead of getting locked up.
"When they have the electronic monitoring, like I said, they're able to be at home, they're able to go to school, they're able to sit down at the table with their family, whereas when they maybe went to our detention center you have staff 24 hours monitoring them, you have security," she said.
The ankle monitors also cost less and save tax dollars. Graves said it costs about $244 a day per juvenile at the detention center in Guilford County. She said the ankle monitors cost around $7 a day per juvenile.
The number of kids wearing them in our area has also jumped over the past few years. In Guilford County, the state monitored nine kids in 2012 and last year nearly 60 -- that's six times as many. In Forsyth County the number tripled going from 9 in 2012 to 29 in 2014.
"They're able to do regular daily activities and socialize, but they're being monitored while doing so, so they're not roaming," Graves said.
Statewide there were 456 juveniles wearing ankle monitors in 2012 and in 2014 there were 1,010 kids wearing them. The children wear them to school, extracurricular activities, and in some cases therapy sessions. Graves said the state can program the areas where the child is allowed and during what times.
The kids wearing the ankle monitors typically have gotten in trouble for felonies, like assaults. The state said they normally wear the bracelet for one to three months.