By James Kilgore, co-director of FirstFollowers Reentry Program
The first time I saw an electronic ankle monitor was 2009. Unfortunately, it was on my own leg. After six and a half years in prison, I figured this little band of plastic wasn’t going to be much of a hindrance. Wrong.
For my first week of “freedom,” I was only allowed out of the house Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. I didn’t feel too free. The more I kept looking at my ankle, the more questions I had. They told me the device only tracked my location, but how was I to know it wasn’t listening to my conversations? When I went to sleep at night, I kept having visions that my parole officer was lying across the foot of my bed looking up at me. I knew he wasn’t there, but the vision wouldn’t go away.
I ended up spending a year on this device. Eventually I adjusted (sort of) but I never stopped asking questions. I had to give my parole officer a list of all my movements two weeks in advance, specifying time and place. Any deviations from the list and I could be back watching my incarcerated brothers slamming dominoes in the prison day room. No spontaneous walks around the block to get some fresh air, no midnight pizza runs. How much sense did that make? I had done my time in prison, why should I have to do more time in my living room? (more…)