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  • Donovan Castillero

Getting off Electronic Ankle Monitoring After 8 Years of Incarceration

Updated: Jan 18

The Big Moments are in the Small Details: Getting off electronic ankle monitoring after 8 years of incarceration

By Donovan Castillero

Editor's Note: After 8 years of incarceration, author Donovan Castillero didn't mind an ankle monitor to be outside the prison walls, but with the limitations he was reminded of all he had missed and still wanted to experience.


Photo by Donovan of the creek

When I was told I was going to have an ankle monitor when I got released, I didn’t really mind, I just wanted to get out. All I could think about was that after over 8 years of incarceration, I was finally going home. The day I was released my mom took me to Boulder Creek because she thought it would be nice to be around nature again after being inside for so long. The monitor itself was no big deal, but on that very first day out, I was disappointed that I wouldn’t be able to jump into this beautiful river in front of me and swim, and it made me realize that amongst other things, I missed out on being able to go swimming these last 8 years.

As the first few weeks of freedom went by, I got used to the monitor, but there were times when I was reminded that I’m still not 100% free. Spending time with my family, I got a call from someone monitoring the ankle monitor who told me the monitor was dying and that I had to immediately return home to charge. It definitely put a damper on my mood that day, as I had to just drop everything and go home instead of spending time with family, or else risk violating my probation. I took an Uber back home and my family stayed behind. I had forgotten the charger for the ankle monitor at home and I think it had not fully charged the night before. The monitor was on me 24/7, I even showered with it as it can get wet but it cannot be submerged in water. I charged it at night once I was done with my day and I could lay down to rest a few hours. It would usually last the whole day charged with no problem. Later, my family and I went to the beach and not being able to get all the way in the ocean with my 8 year old sister was also disappointing. I still dipped my toes in the water of course, but for the most part I was sitting on the beach, talking with my family and eating. It was nice to see the ocean again, and even though I was wearing shorts, I didn’t feel like people were staring at the monitor. I was a bit self conscious about it.

After about a month, it was time for me to go back to court for a check in with the judge and to see if I still needed to be kept on the ankle monitor. I was definitely hopeful that I would be taken off, but I knew that only one month was a short time for them to feel comfortable and so I didn’t let my hopes get too high, and I didn’t make any plans yet. Thankfully, the officer that monitored me gave a really good report, saying that I was doing everything I needed to do, and that if it pleased the court, he would continue to check in with me even after the monitor was taken off. The judge ordered the monitor off, and I immediately felt better, knowing that I was that much closer to putting all of this behind me.

That weekend I went with my mom, sister, and some friends and family back to Boulder Creek, and I was excited that I would actually be able to get in the water this time. It’s such a small detail, but it felt big at that moment. I wanted to jump right in, but the water was cold as hell, so it took me a while, but I eventually got in. My friend brought an inflatable raft with him, so I was able to float down the river in this little raft, slowly, calmly, and with the frogs giving me weird looks. It was refreshing and liberating, and just another small moment that reminded me of how much I missed, and how much I wanted to experience again.

Photo by Donovan

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