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Ankle monitoring for youths may do more harm than good

If your child is in the California juvenile justice system, you may be like many other parents who feel their children's situations are getting worse instead of better. While the purpose of juvenile justice is to save children from a life of crime and redirect them to a more positive future, the system often sets up children for failure, and some youth advocates believe the system itself is flawed.

To avoid sending youths to jail, courts may fit them with an ankle monitor. This technology tracks the children, reporting them to the court if they violate what many consider stringent rules. Studies show that children of color may be most at risk in this system.

The entire family carries the burden

Although many tout monitoring technology as a superior option to jail, you may recognize the inherent drawbacks that practically guarantee a child will face jail time anyway. Many California counties enforce up to 50 rules while a child wears an ankle monitor. You may live in a county that carries such stipulations as forbidding your child from getting a haircut without permission from the court. Overall, however, among the most frustrating issues the ankle monitor causes your family may include:

  • Charging monitoring fees in addition to drug testing and other fees
  • Prohibiting your child from playing sports or participating in after school activities
  • Forbidding your child from having friends or other visitors over while wearing the monitor
  • Sending your child to jail for violating the strict monitoring rules

Rules for juveniles wearing ankle monitors often force children to remain inside their homes when not attending school. Obviously, this is often difficult for a young person, and violations are common.

The consequences of monitor violations may harm a child

When your child violates the rules, he or she risks going to jail, which may result in your child becoming trapped in the system and suffering the loss of many important opportunities and possibilities, for example:

  • Falling behind in school
  • Missing counseling appointments
  • Losing job prospects
  • Forfeiting mentoring opportunities

You may wonder how your child will ever break free from the cycle and have a real chance to get back on the path of opportunity if the threat of jail for monitor violations is constantly over his or her head.

While it may be true that placing a monitor on your child's ankle is infinitely better than sending your child to jail, you probably wish there was a better solution. Since incarceration may likely prove to be detrimental to a child, seeking better alternatives is in the best interests of a child facing penalties in juvenile court.

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