ELECTRONIC PRISONS: The Operation of Ankle Monitoring in the Criminal Legal System
55 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2021
Date Written: 2021
The use of surveillance technology to tag and track people on pretrial release, probation and parole is on the rise. The COVID-19 crisis in prisons and jails, bail reform efforts and bipartisan support for curbing mass incarceration accelerated interest in purported alternatives to incarceration. As a result, the use electronic monitoring devices, including GPS-equipped ankle monitors, went up dramatically.
Thanks to the leadership of community organizers and advocates, the harmful and racialized nature of this type of carceral surveillance has been exposed. This report seeks to add to those efforts by examining the specific policies, procedures, contracts and rules that govern the use of electronic monitoring of people on probation, parole and pretrial release. Drawing on over 247 records from 101 agencies across 44 states and the District of Columbia, this report focuses on the operation of electronic monitoring. The report reveals the degree to which monitoring rules and policies restrict movement, limit privacy, undermine family and social relationships, extract wealth and result in repeated loss of freedom. Unlike traditional models of probation and parole, electronic surveillance is more intensive, restrictive and dependent on private surveillance companies that are driven by profit motive. The findings in this report demonstrate what advocates have long said: Electronic surveillance is not an alternative to incarceration, it’s an alternative form of incarceration. And like incarceration, the deprivations and restrictions of electronic monitoring further entrench race and class-based subordination.
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