A new smartphone-based app will make cumbersome ankle bracelets a relic for some Lafayette Parish offenders sentenced to a GPS tracking program.
The Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office this week announced its adoption of Telmate Guardian, an app compatible with Android and Apple phones that uses their cameras, microphones and GPS features to monitor where users are at any point in time.
“It’s another alternative for low-risk, low-need individuals but still provides a level of supervision that allows them to be out in the community,” Corrections Director Rob Reardon said on Wednesday.
Those using the app will be prompted at random points throughout the day to read a computer-generated sequence of numbers or letters while looking into the phone’s self-facing camera as a string of photos are captured. The app is calibrated to recognize the user’s face and his or her voice patterns, and it pings cellphone towers throughout the day to alert monitors of the phone’s location.
“If there’s some sort of problem — say it appears he or she is slurring their words — that will come up in the system, too,” Reardon said.
Case managers also may use the app to schedule appointments with the offender. Some nonviolent, generally misdemeanor offenders will be eligible to use it, including those in the pretrial program.
Two people began using Telmate Guardian this month. It costs a flat rate of $2 a day per person, but the Sheriff’s Office doubled that to $4 to cover administrative costs associated with the tracking program.
“It’s still cheaper than the bracelet,” Reardon said, noting those without smartphones will still be using ankle bracelets that cost $7 a day.
Telmate, the San Francisco-based company behind the app, already sells phone and digital visitation services to inmates at the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center, where physical visits are prohibited. It also provides deposit services for inmates’ commissary accounts.