Electronic Monitoring of Suspects, Convicts Up 140%

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GPS tracking device. Photo by ybs via Flickr

GPS tracking device. Photo by ybs via Flickr

The number of accused and convicted U.S. offenders who are monitored with ankle bracelets and other electronic tracking devices rose nearly 140 percent over 10 years, says a survey by The Pew Charitable Trusts. More than 125,000 people were supervised with the devices in 2015, up from 53,000 in 2005. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the federal government use electronic devices to monitor the pretrial defendants or convicted offenders on probation or parole.

GPS technology accounted for the 10-year growth in electronic tracking, more than offsetting a decline in the use of radio-frequency devices. Despite the substantial growth of electronic tracking, it remains rare in the context of the entire corrections system, Pew said. Nearly 7 million people were in prison or jail or on probation or parole at the end of 2014, but people tracked using electronic devices in 2015 represented less than 2 percent of that total.

3 thoughts on “Electronic Monitoring of Suspects, Convicts Up 140%

  1. This is because the lobbyists have gotten to the politicians and made donations to their re-election campaigns to create laws to require most parolees to war one of these. It isn’t about protecting society, it is about making money and winning elections. “See? I’m tough on crime.”

  2. Ankle monitors provide a “dot on the map”, which tends to give a false sense of security. We provide an Automated Rehabilitation and Compliance Monitoring platform for people on community supervision. A few years ago I had a probation officer call me and say she told a sex offender probationer that he could have his ankle monitor taken off if he was on one of our programs. He came to our office and after reading our contract and understanding that he would have to be randomly breath tested (drinking alcohol was a violation of his probation) he got angry and left. I called the probation officer and told her this is a great example of someone who could be exactly where he is supposed to be but you have no way of knowing what he is doing. I told her, “he could be right at home where he is supposed to be, with the BBQ going, the music blaring, a fifth of Jack Daniels in his hand and a naked 14 year old on his lap and you’d never know.”

    We need to recognize that there is more to successful supervision than knowing WHERE someone is.

  3. When we look at the overall cost of incarceration it the US the total is astounding. As a mental health clinician and advocate, I have watched state hospitals and treatment programs struggle to keep their doors open providing services to some of the most vulnerable of populations. As a result jails and prisons have become the defunct treatment and housing facilities. Many of these offenders can be successfully treated at a community level. Programs utilizing innovative approaches can and should be funded and the savings used as seed money to further innovate opportunities. We have witnessed first hand in the field of medicine what a few dedicated researchers did in the field of biotechnology saving lives and treatment dollars. Isn’t it time to stop doing things the way we always have and look at opportunities to make a difference?

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