Greensboro, N.C. -- It's not handcuffs. It's not a jail cell. It doesn't guarantee anyone's safety or protection. But, an electronic monitoring bracelet can deter people from committing crimes.
WFMY News 2 started looking more into the electronic bracelets after police revealed a man accused of murder committed another crime while wearing one. Police say Bobbie Frederick Walls, Jr., broke into a house and stole some items this week.
Bracelet monitors are relatively new in Greensboro. GPD has only used them since 2011.
There's a bit of a misconception out there that electronic monitoring bracelets allow people to get out of jail quicker. That's not the case. Police say judges are not releasing people from jail in exchange for wearing the bracelet. Instead, if a person is able to post bond, sometimes, they are required to also wear one of the bracelets.
These are people that, if we didn't have them electronically monitored, they would have posted their bond anyway. Then, they would have been out without monitors, without us knowing, 100 percent, what they were doing," Greensboro Police Sergeant Mike Rakes said.
Over the past two years, the majority of the offenders wearing the bracelets were repeat offenders.
Most faced robbery or burglary charges. Last year, 15 out of 300 people wearing the bracelets committed another crime while wearing the bracelet.
"It can be used, somewhat, in real time. But, it's more of a historical type of tracking. So, if we have a burglary and we compare points, we can say this offender was right there at burglary and stayed there. It's obvious he was somehow involved," Sgt. Rakes said.
The bracelets are obviously a powerful tool for law enforcement, but you might be surprised to hear that defense attorneys like the technology, too.
There is some inconvenience for the defendants who are placed on it. But, there are a lot of benefits. One of the benefits is they can be eliminated as a suspect in a crime. If there is a crime being investigated that occurred while they were wearing the bracelet, the bracelet can show, no, they weren't there," Assistant Public Defender Bill Davis said.
Greensboro police say the monitors actually help clear more people of crimes than anything else. That's because the technology allows police to rule out whether a person was in an area where a crime happened.
It costs about four dollars a day to monitor one person on this system. Housing someone in the Guilford County Jail costs about $70 per day.
Greensboro Police recently updated the guidelines for the bracelets. The bracelets can be placed on accused offenders who...
*Are suspected of being involved in random robberies where they do not know their victim
*Are caught with stolen property, commit the same crime right after getting released from jail or prison
*Have previous criminal activity on their record and could have a negative effect on the community