Electronic bracelets used for P.E.I. offenders now permanent

Using electronic ankle bracelets to monitor offenders released from Island jails has become a permanent part of the P.E.I. justice system.

Pilot project produced positive results, justice officials say

The cost of an ankle bracelet is $12.49 a day, according to the P.E.I. Department of Justice and Public Safety. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Electronic ankle bracelets used to monitor offenders released from Island jails has become a permanent part of the P.E.I. justice system. 

The change comes 18 months after the pilot project began, says Shawn Arbing, the provincial electronic supervision co-ordinator with the Department of Justice and Public Safety.

Arbing said they heard feedback from stakeholders involved in the pilot project, including probation services, the custody facilities, Crown attorneys, legal aid, provincial court judges and victim services. 

'Substantially' increases protection

"It's an effective tool to increase the offender accountability and it really does substantially increase the protection of victims and the general public." 

Arbing said those were the objectives of the program when it began. 

The GPS devices provided probation staff with continuous monitoring of the location of offenders on probation and under house arrest.

"It does give probation officers and custody officials great awareness of where the clients are and it does keep them accountable for their actions," Arbing said.

Shawn Arbing, provincial electronic supervision co-ordinator, demonstrates the tracking capabilities of ankle bracelets. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

The clients wearing the bracelets are those serving conditional sentences and offenders convicted of domestic violence, sexual offences and high violence offences.

"Those are the people we've been targeting through probation services." 

Five violations

During the one year of the pilot project, there were about five violations by clients wearing the ankle bracelets who had to be taken back to court, Arbing said.

Ankle bracelets cost $12.49 a day to operate, according to officials — a fraction of the cost of keeping someone in custody.

An annual budget of $200,000 has been approved and will be used to pay for monitoring the offenders and for salaries. 

With files from Laura Chapin, Brian Higgins and Stephanie Kelly