OAKLAND –– A private company responsible for monitoring GPS and alcohol tracking devices on recently released inmates faces accusations of extortion and civil rights violations.
Four Californians filed a class action lawsuit on July 31 in federal court against Leaders In Community Alternatives (LCA), its parent company Supercom and company executives. Alameda County is also named as a defendant in the suit.
William Edwards, Robert Jackson, James Brooks, and Kyser Wilson allege the company charges $25.50 per day to wear the court-ordered ankle monitors -- $765 per month -- even if the participant cannot afford it. The plaintiffs say they have borrowed money and given up their homes to pay the fees. One of the plaintiffs is in chemotherapy and another is taking care of a sick mother, the complaint states.
Alameda County contracts with LCA to provide the monitoring, but does not pick up any of the costs.
Ankle monitors, similar to this one, can cost as much as $765 a month to monitor. Jérémy-Günther-Heinz Jähnick via Wikicommons
California law allows a judge to determine what an individual can pay, but the plaintiffs claim LCA does not tell participants this and threaten those unable to pay.
"When individuals sentenced to LCA tracking fall behind on making payments they cannot afford, LCA staff threatens to inform the court they are violating their release conditions," the complaint states. "Under this pay-or-jail scheme, an alternative to incarceration masks a form of extortion: pay what is demanded or end up in a jail cell."
The plaintiff claim LCA violates the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and the constitutional protections of due process and equal protection.