Electronic Monitoring Devices in Corrections Term Paper

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("Home Confinement / Electronic Monitoring," n. d.)

House arrest or home confinement started as a program to handle particularly as a sentencing substitute meant for drunk drivers, but rapidly spread over to a number of other offender populations in a lot of jurisdictions. Depending on the nature of crime committed by the offenders, home confinement has been designed with various degrees of stages of restrictions. These can vary from ordinary curfews to complete confinement. For instance, the home confinement program of the Federal courts extends three separate levels of restrictions under the U.S. Probation and Pretrial Services, 2000. Under the first level ie., curfew, it requires the program participants to stay at home daily during certain time periods. Under the second level house arrest it requires on the part of the participants to stay at home round the clock save for attending to work, school, treatment etc. which must be approved previously. The most restrictive level, home detention needs round the clock arrest in homes, save for doctor's appointment, appearances in court and other works exclusively sanctioned by the court. ("Home Confinement / Electronic Monitoring," n. d.)

History of EMD:

In the U.S., the first EMD was developed during the middle part of 1960s by the noted History Harvard psychologists Robert Schwitzgebel who perceived that his invention will be able to deliver a humanitarian and low-cost option to custody in case of a lot of people entangled in the process of justice. It was known as 'Dr. Schwitzgebel Machine' and it was a battery pack along with a transmitter who can transmit signal to that of a receiver in the range of a 'quarter mile'. Through, Dr. Schwitzgebel obtained a patent for the device in 1969, the practical use of EMD to nab offenders started only after the 1980s. In U.S., electronic monitoring grew speedily and by 1988, the number of offenders who were put on electronic monitoring went up to 2,300 in 32 states. After 10 years, the usage of electronic forms of monitoring had leapfrogged to more than 95,000 devices in January 1988 registering a rise of forty times. It is important to note that house arrest with electronic monitoring lets a person who is sentenced to a jail term to remain in his home as an option to being behind bars in a jail. In this case home confinement is closely monitored using an electronic sensor attached to the ankle of an offender connected through telephone lines to a central computer that transmits a continuous signal. (Than, n. d.)

In case the signal is intercepted by the offender traveling beyond the authorized radius of the receiver, the host computer keeps record of the date and time of the disappearance of the signal. The computer also keeps a note of the date and time the signal starts sending messages. In case there is a signal interruption, when a parolee must stay in his home, the infringement is verified by the Parole Officer with the result that the offender is liable to be arrested. EMs must be a low cost affair, and has to cater to the re-socialization of the defendant. Apart from that it spells safety to the society. Hence, these were the objectives when it was tried to usher in the criminal laws. Among the EMDs, devices based on the Global Positioning Systems -- GPS technology are the latest ones through which offenders can be monitored round the clock. In case, an offender violates the conditions of an electronic monitoring order, the GPS will be able to detect his actual position. This makes the apprehension of the offender by the law enforcement authorities a task which is comparatively easy. Currently, GPS monitoring system devised to look for offenders continue to be under development stage. (Than, n. d.)

In 1997, a novel form of EM was developed and put to test that depended on the GPS. The GPS is formed by 24 military satellites orbiting our planet and data from three to five among the satellite can state the coordinates of a GPS receiver across the world. Through the use of the GPS system, the details of the EM clients are capable of being found out and entered into central computers. Over the years, GPS systems have evolved and are easier to use and popular also. The major difference between a GPS systems and Radio Frequency EM system is the capability to locate the movement details of the clients. Through the use of GPS, correctional authorities are able to find out when clients leave and return their homes, go to their work and attend compulsory treatment sessions. They are also able to find incase their clients have been visiting prohibitive areas, like the home of the victims or to workplace or to bars or to other places who serve alcohol. (Caputo, 2004)

One more important difference among the RF-based EM systems and GPS is the capability to fix exclusion and red alert zones wherein clients are banned from traveling. As it is not a sanction, EM has surfaced in a lot of interesting places. Devised for application as a post-trial additional home confinement to ensure that the sanction is more practical, it was readily adapted for pre-trial use, as a means of releasing defendants on bail who might otherwise be very dangerous to handle. It is useful in enforcing conditions of bail like avoiding victims or some locations like where children are frequented. It is generally used as a community corrections option to jail or federal prison and as a means of raising surveillance of parolees. It has been applied as an accommodative sanction between raising the number of contact meetings and revocation of probation of parole. It is most applicable to work release or temporary release. (Caputo, 2004)

Necessity of EMDs:

At times, authorities in charge of criminal justice might be desirous of controlling or closely monitoring the movements of an individual without going in for detention. For instance, prior to a criminal trial, the police authorities might wish to guarantee that the defendant does not leave the city and stays away from the complainant. Following conviction, a judge might wish to put restrictions on the freedom of the offender at the same time not invoking a full-time custodial sanction. After release from jail, a parole board might be desirous of imposing limits on an offender. Community-based programs seek to fulfill these objectives by release conditions like reporting to officials or obeying the provision of a curfew. EM enforces such conditions through technological means. Through the use of tracking systems, criminal justice agencies are able to monitor the location of an individual and can be cautioned to any sort of unlawful movements. (Black; Smith, n. d.)

There are three broad underlying principles behind the application of an electronic monitoring. These are (i) Detention: EM can be applied to make sure that an individual stays at an appointed place. For instance, home detention schemes normally need offenders to in their residence during curfew periods. Among the uses, this was one of the first uses of electronic monitoring and continues to be the most popular. (ii) Restriction: As an alternative measure, electronic monitoring can be used to be certain that the person does not infiltrate prohibited zones, or come in contact with specific individuals like complainants, possible victims or even co-offenders. (iii) Surveillance: The application of EM might be there such that authorities are able to persistently track an individual, without really putting a restriction on their movements. (Black; Smith, n. d.)

Coming to the applications of EMDs, there are three stages at which EM are capable of being used in the criminal justice system. These are pre-trial, during sentencing and post-prison. (i) Pre-trial: EM might be a condition upon which a defendant is granted bail. EM must thus be limited to surveillance until precincts and detention is utterly important. EM has been used as a pre-trial necessity in the U.S. Under a particular program, EM was available in case of those who were unable to pay the needed bail amount. The program employed the use of a passive system and in case the accused attended the trial following 90 days, the EM condition was withdrawn since the accused was thereafter regarded as being of low risk. (Black; Smith, n. d.) ii) Primary Sentencing: EM can be applied as a primary sentencing alternative to implement some amount of restrictions on the freedom of the offender. To take an example, home detention schemes normally utilize EM to ensure that the offender remains in his home at the time of curfew. Not like pre-trial system, the application of EM in this perspective involves a sentencing court looking to penalize an offender. This recommends a much greater role for detention. Restriction and surveillance can also be used to lower the odds of the person to commit another offence, especially against the original victim. EM is…[continue]

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