Three teenage boys were arrested last week in connection with the rape of a 14-year old female at a dental clinic in Helena. Two of the suspects were confirmed to have been wearing GPS ankle monitors administered by the juvenile courts for previous criminal offenses.
“The GPS tracking device did not fail,” stated Jarvis Smith, juvenile justice system project director. “The students were where they were supposed to be. These kids were in school and transported to the dental clinic for dental appointments. These kids were not out of the system zone.”
According to Smith, the purpose of the bracelets is to provide the juvenile court system with an option of keeping youth offenders out of juvenile detention facilities, bringing down housing costs and the negative impact that leads to a young offender having additional involvement with the criminal justice system.
“The tracking device is generally installed on the individual's ankle and transmits the juveniles location by tracing the unit via satellite,” explained Smith.
Through the GPS system juvenile officers are able to locate the juveniles whereabouts with the correct addresses and turn the information over to the police department for further assistance.
“This device can tell us whether or not the device has been tampered with, registers suspicious activity and the location of each individual and how fast they are moving. These GPS tracking devices gave us the assistance that we needed. It was able to transmit the proper location of each juvenile suspect, reflecting that there was no immediate danger because of their scheduled location,” stressed Smith.
Smith explained that had the juvenile suspects not been wearing them, they could've possibly escaped or gone without detection.
According to Will Tate, juvenile intake officer, the tracking devices require the battery to be charged and the juvenile and the parent or guardian is responsible for charging the device.
“However, when the battery is not charged and depletes to a certain level it then sends an alert to our juvenile officers notifying them of future assistance in the juveniles' compliance with a court order,” added Smith.
Much like other technical devices, equipment is going to have flaws, says Smith.
“The system is not perfect, “ he said.
All three suspects are currently in custody at the White River Juvenile Detention Center in Batesville waiting their first appearance in Phillips County Circuit Court scheduled for Sept. 13.