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Electronic tether keeps heiress home

June 08, 2007|Francisco Vara-Orta | Times Staff Writer

The electronic monitoring device Paris Hilton must wear on her ankle means that she cannot go more than 100 feet from her Hollywood Hills home -- unless she gets special permission.

Hilton cannot remove the transmitter, which looks something like a pager attached to a metal cuff, at any time as she serves -- or perhaps if she serves -- the remainder of her sentence at home during the next six weeks or so, according to Los Angeles County law enforcement officials.

If Hilton violates any of the restrictions pertaining to her reassignment from jail to home, the tracking equipment, issued by county officials and monitored by an Irvine-based company called Sentinel Offender Services, will send a signal to Sentinel, which in turn will notify county officials.

"It's essentially like house arrest. If she goes outside that range, the alarm will go off," said Robert Taylor, the Los Angeles County chief probation officer. "She won't be going down to the Sunset Strip anytime soon. But that doesn't mean she can't invite friends over."

Hilton's electronic monitoring device is a Sentinel DualTrak, a two-piece system consisting of an ankle-worn transmitter and a home monitoring unit connected to a phone line.

More than 500 people in Los Angeles County currently are wearing similar monitoring devices, officials said.

If anyone being monitored goes too far from the home unit or damages the device, an alarm will sound and a signal will be sent to Sentinel. The company would then determine whether the appropriate law enforcement agency should be notified.

"We then can dispatch police and it could lead to a return to jail for the offender," Taylor said. "We've seen a lot of people try to do creative things to get it off, but it's tamper proof."

Taylor said the waterproof device had a disposable back plate that eliminated the need for constant cleaning. If someone wearing the device must leave home for any situation, such as work or medical attention, they would have to clear it with their probation officer in advance, he said.

Taylor said Hilton was fitted at her residence after her release early Thursday. Offenders usually are fitted at home to ensure that the device works, he said.

The county's electronic monitoring program started in 1992, and as many as 2,000 people at a time have been on the program. Those placed on the monitoring devices must apply for it first and then pay for their own monitoring fees, which daily can cost $3 for juveniles to hundreds of dollars for wealthy offenders, Taylor said. He said he didn't know how much Hilton would have to pay.

Taylor said Hilton has the probation department's green light to decorate her transmitter however she wants -- "as long as she doesn't damage it."

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francisco.varaorta@latimes.com

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