Idaho County to Use GPS Bracelets to Track Juvenile Offenders

A northern Idaho county plans to start using GPS bracelets to track juvenile offenders.

"We haven't used a lot of electronic monitoring," Sheley Beck, administrator for Kootenai County's Juvenile Probation, told the Coeur d'Alene Press. "It is time consuming. There's a lot of staff time that's involved. It's another tool for us to use as sanctions."

She said high-risk juveniles on probation would be likely candidates for the bracelet.

Carolyn Peterson, administrator of the county's juvenile diversion program, said the department will use two bracelets. She said one will be in use and the other will be available for immediate use.

She also said that SecureAlert, the company that provides the bracelets, can ship one in 24 hours. The company has a contract with the county and provides 24-hour surveillance.

Peterson said those in juvenile diversion usually are first-time offenders such as truants, runaways, or petty thieves. She said they are more likely to run away and would be good candidates for one of the bracelets.

The juveniles must agree to take part in the program.

So far, the county has only put the GPS bracelets on adults. The wearer pays the county $10 per day.

Mike Wall, administrator for the county's Adult Misdemeanor Probation Department, said the devices work well.

He said they come with built-in voice communication ability that can be used to talk to an offender if the tracking device alerts authorities that the person has strayed from allowed areas.

On one occasion, Wall said, an adult offender was jolted from sleep at 2 a.m. because he was not where he was supposed to be.

"He thought maybe God was talking to him, I don't know," Wall said.