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News

Texas courts tackle truancy with electronic monitoring.

Omnilink Systems : 26 March, 2008  (Application Story)
Pupils deemed to be at risk of truancy in Texas could find themselves wearing electronic bracelets for round-the-clock monitoring in an effort by the courts to reduce truancy related crime in the state.
Truancy not only keeps students from getting an education, it also acts as a gateway to the commission of illegal activities, such as vandalism, theft or more serious crimes. That’s why getting students back to school is so important to the Midland County Justice Court in Texas, where they announced the use of Omnilink’s electronic monitoring devices on at-risk truant students to track whether they are attending school.

The Midland County Justice Court is a leader in innovative truancy reduction programs. When they began the program to alleviate truancy in 1999, compliance rates were at 20%; however, through the dedication of Judge David Cobos and Program Director James Henry, they have achieved a compliance rate of 95%. Further, the incidence of repeat offenses is down to only 5%. Their success comes in part from the services they have created to help students get back on track. For at-risk students — those involved in gangs or drug activity, for instance — those services now include electronic monitoring.

Truant students who are sentenced to wear Omnilink’s one-piece electronic monitoring bracelet are now monitored 24/7, whether they are outside or inside. This means that the program staff knows exactly where these students are at all times, and they know instantly when a student does not show up for school.

“Truancy can lead to negative consequences for the student and the community,” states Judge Cobos. “That’s why we’ve initiated this electronic monitoring program with Omnilink. We want to get these students back to school and reduce the chances that they will re-enter the justice system as juvenile or adult offenders.”

Of the 15 students who have been sentenced to electronic monitoring, 14 have successfully completed the program. The results have been far-reaching: students have gone back to school and parents report better relationships with their previously frequently-truant sons and daughters. One participant of the program was even able to permanently remove himself from a gang, as the gang’s whereabouts would be known anytime the monitored student was present.

“Another great benefit of this program is that the use of electronic monitoring seems to be reducing truancy in the schools attended by monitored students,” says Daniel Graff-Radford, vice president of judicial sales at Omnilink. “Other students see that skipping school could result in the court monitoring their movements all day every day, and that’s a deterrent.”

“Having these Omnilink devices out there is like having another staff member on the street working for the program,” states James Henry. “The monitor is like a string tied around the student’s finger, reminding him of his responsibilities to us and to himself.”

Interested parties can learn more about the innovative program created by Judge David Cobos and Program Director James Henry by listening to a short recorded interview on Omnilink’s website. This interview is the first in Omnilink’s new podcast series called “Perspectives in Electronic Monitoring.”

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