Ankle Monitors Keep Midland Teens Out of Gangs

By: Sarah Snyder
NewsWest 9

At first glance, an ankle monitor might not seem like such a good thing. The GPS tracks the wearer's every movement and makes sure they don't re-offend, but that's not the case in Midland County. Those monitors are helping teenage offenders stay out of - what authorities are saying is "dangerous gang activity."

Truancy cases, drugs, alcohol and illegal activity: All offenses that prompt Midland County Judge David Cobos to order them to wear a monitor on their ankle.

"What this basically does is it restricts them to home and school and has had an impact on their opportunity to be involved in drugs and alcohol and things that are detrimental to their health and it keeps them in school," Midland County Judge, David Cobos, said.

In fact, Midland County officials find kids as young as ten already involved in a gang.

"You see some of these younger kids getting involved in it and that's scary - especially at that age with elementary kids," James Henry with the Midland County Justice Court, said. "We've had incidents where elementary students have been caught at school with weapons, knives, even drugs and alcohol."

But it's those GPS monitors that are doing more than just keep track of truancy cases. They're actually cutting back on the number of kids involved in gangs.

"Once a child is put on a monitor a lot of other gang members don't want them around because the monitors give locations, let us know where they're at, what they're doing, what their activities are and it could affect the overall activities of the entire gang," Henry said.

"We've had one young man who did admit to gang involvement and once we placed that monitor on them, the other individuals in the gang didn't want him around," Judge Cobos said. "They said, we don't want other people to know what we're doing, so you stay away from us."

But here's an interesting twist - the Alternative Sentencing Program is finding that teens involved in gang activity come to them asking to wear a monitor just so they can escape.

"For some of them who want out of the gang but don't know how, the GPS monitor gives them a valid excuse to get out of the gang," Henry said.