A look at electronic monitoring in Utah

The state of Utah only sparingly tracks released prisoners using electronic ankle monitors.

Utah Department of Corrections spokesman Steve Gehrke says they are occasionally used for higher-profile offenders. In April, for instance, corrections officials tracked 10 people: three parolees and seven people who were on probation. Two of those 10 were awaiting trial, Gehrke said.

The state has a contract with Sunset Monitoring to operate the system. The yearly contract calls for a payoff of $20,000-$60,000, depending on how much ankle monitors are used across the state.

The state has a system in place to respond to alerts around-the-clock, seven days a week, Gehrke said. The ankle monitors use GPS.

When an alert comes in about an offender not being where he’s supposed to be in a rural area, the parole agent assigned to the person is notified directly and tasked with figuring out where the person is.

When an alert comes from an offender wearing an ankle monitor in a metropolitan area, the private company contacts the agent in charge of supervising the offender so they can find out where the person wearing the ankle monitor is, Gehrke said.

Gehrke said all 10 offenders wearing the electronic ankle monitors in April were in Salt Lake County.

There were 50 alerts in April signaling offenders had left during curfew or failed to return at the scheduled curfew time, Gehrke said. None of the alerts was triggered by offenders leaving allowable zones. At least one person was arrested and sent back to prison, Gehrke said.

Such violations are reported to the court and made part of the person’s record, he said. For example, one formerly monitored offender was sentenced to jail again after repeated alerts that showed he was breaking the established rules.

In addition to the Utah Department of Corrections, other entities across the state also provide electronic monitoring of offenders, including several county sheriff’s departments. In Salt Lake County, for instance, the sheriff’s office tracks about 100 inmates who are still in custody but allowed to live at home while they work, said spokeswoman Cammie Skogg.

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