[Guest post by DRJ]
San Antonio court authorities recently announced a 6-month pilot program covering approximately 50 high school students that will use GPS ankle bracelets to track truants:
“We are at a critical point in our time where we can either educate or incarcerate,” [Bexar County Justice of the Peace Linda] Penn said, linking truancy with juvenile delinquency and later criminal activity.
Penn said students in the program will wear the ankle bracelets full-time and will not be able to remove them. They’ll be selected as they come through her court, and Penn will target truant students with gang affiliations, those with a history of running away and skipping school, and those who have been through her court multiple times.”
The Texas ACLU applauded efforts to keep kids in school but was concerned about privacy issues since students can be tracked full-time, including during after-school hours.
The article mentions that this program has already been used in other Texas communities, although I wasn’t aware of it. It’s an aggressive program and, in my opinion, a close call. There are legitimate privacy concerns but students who drop-out of school are the biggest losers. There may also be racial issues since drop-outs are often minorities, especially Hispanics, in many Texas communities.
It reminds me of that old saying: Don’t cut off your nose to spite your face. Foreclosing aggressive efforts to keep kids in school could preserve students’ privacy but sacrifice their futures.
UPDATE 8/25/2008: I didn’t realize it but this program started 10 years ago in West Texas where I live. This online article describes how successful it’s been and why it’s spreading to other cities in Texas, including San Antonio.