Shortage of ankle monitoring devices in Wake County costing taxpayers more

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Taxpayers spend around $80,000 a day paying for inmates to be at the Wake County jails. But could that dollar amount be less? 

CBS 17 found out there’s a shortage of ankle monitoring devices used during pre-trial services. 

Lindsey Granados, an attorney with Kurtz & Blum, represents multiple clients who use them.

“They come to court. They do what they’re supposed to do. I’ve never had any problems with my clients that have electronic monitoring,” she said. 

(Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

But what defendants are having problems with is getting them in the first place.  

The Wake County Sheriff’s Office says there’s an average of 1,351 inmates in the jails. County officials say there are only 120 ankle monitoring devices to go around.  

“I wish we had more. I really wish we had more,” said Granados. 

Eighty of the monitors are for impoverished defendants. The remaining 40 are for those who can pay. 

There’s currently a wait list for people who can’t afford to pay for them, meaning they often stay behind bars instead. 

“These are nonviolent offenses. It is a waste of space in the jail.”

The county says it costs roughly $70 a day to house someone in jail, which is 85 percent more expensive than defendants wearing ankle monitors for around $10 a day. 

A bill the taxpayer ultimately foots. 

“I think we could add a great many, many more of those to our overall list of available options and that would be just barely scratching the surface,” said Granados. 

The county’s getting 40 new monitoring devices on July 1st.  A spokesperson said these devices are based on available resources and they plan to scale them up since they got a new provider last fall. 

“Most people should be home with their families while they await trial so they can participate in their community, work at their job, spend time with their families,” said Kristie Puckett Williams with the ACLU North Carolina. “I would like to see a system where we no longer criminalize people for simply being poor.”

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