Sex Offender Electronic Monitoring Costly, May Not Help Much


States that subject sex offenders to electronic monitoring often do not consider unintended consequences and costs, says the Council of State Governments. In the Council’s magazine, State News, three authors note that the annual cost of an electronic monitoring proposition passed by California voters could be $57 million, perhaps growing to $100 million within a decade. “The high cost stems partly from fees for the techology, but primarily from workload increases assigned to probation officers,” say the authors, Matthew DeMichele of the American Probation & Parole Assocition and Brian Payne and Deeanna Button of Old Dominion University.

Scientific research on electronic monitoring’s effectiveness is scant, the authors say. A survey of research found only three studies, which did not report lower recidividism by offenders. A Florida evaluation did find fewer parole violations by offenders supervised with electronic monitoring. Overall, sex offenders have some of the lowest recidivism rates among felons, State News says. The authors contend that policymakers shold rely on science, not politics, in enacting anticrime policy.


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