Sunday, August 24, 2008

Play Hooky, Wear An Ankle Bracelet

Texas is known for its penchant to overreact. I’ve seen it again and again both at the state and local level. So it seems timely, on the eve of the 2008-09 school year start up, to comment on a new policy going into effect in Bexar County.

Play hooky and you get to wear a GPS ankle bracelet.

It seems that there is a small group of students in Bexar County that have trouble finding their way to school. These are in large part high school students. And the theory goes that habitually truant students are good candidates for mandatory attendance in other state- and county-run institutions within the criminal justice system.

In short, the theory is that truancy begets criminality.

So to nip this thing in the bud, a 6-month pilot program is going into effect in Bexar County via the court of JP Linda Penn, whereby habitually truant students, about 50 in number, will be fitted with irremovable ankle bracelets that house Global Positioning Systems. So the minute-by-minute positions, and by extension, activities of these students will be known.

Because, face it, if they are not in school, the Bexar County court wants to know not only where they are, but what they might be doing.

But wait, it gets better. When school lets out in the afternoon, the ankle bracelets stay on. Their positions and activities may be monitored after school. This, a Texas ACLU executive director says, is an invasion of privacy.

“We're all for keeping kids in school, and we applaud any efforts to make that happen, but the privacy issue: What happens with the bracelet or anklet after school is out? Is that appropriate for the school or courts to know where and what this person is doing outside of school?”


Now tagging a child who is in the habit of running away from home is one thing, but 24 hour monitoring of a kid who simply fails to show up for a free education seems to me like overkill.

Isn’t it enough that teachers do daily reports on their students’ attendance? Is it the business of a court not only to know where the child is when they are not in school, but also when school is over for the day?

All because truancy leads to criminality?

This reminds me of a futuristic movie that came out several years ago where people were charged, arrested, sentenced and punished for their future crimes. I think you know what I am talking about. The film was called “Minority Report.” It pointed out that a system that discovered the future crimes of people, then tried and punished them before the crimes were ever committed was fatally flawed.

It punished people who hadn’t, and never would, commit a crime.

Kind of like putting GPS ankle bracelets on kids who play hooky.

1 comment:

Marsha said...


Good grief Charley Brown! The next thing that the Bush mentality will do is putting cameras in our homes, GPS on all vehicles including autos, bikes motor cycles and horses. What happened to Freedom of Speech, Movement and Privacy?