Alternative to incarceration? New report critiques electronic monitoring

by Aleks Kajstura, November 17, 2015

Last month James Kilgore published a new report evaluating the use of electronic monitoring as an alternative to incarceration. Drawing on an impressively wide range of sources, “Electronic Monitoring Is Not the Answer: Critical reflections on a flawed alternative” tackles the use of electronic monitoring in the context of mass incarceration and the expanding surveillance state.

The report recommends 14 guiding principles for re-framing the U.S.’s approach to electronic monitoring, concluding that:

In the present context, there is little evidence to support EM as a genuine alternative to incarceration. At the same time, EM is not going to go away, especially with the constantly expanding capacity of devices to track and gather other data. If decarceration gathers steam, EM will become an important option. Before that happens, the debate around its use and implications needs to sharpen. Any useful framing must open up a dialog around the rights of the monitored and link EM to state and corporate surveillance. Otherwise, we run the risk of hundreds of thousands of people being virtually incarcerated in their homes and of the net widening to track many more who have not even had an encounter with law enforcement.

A point by point summary and full report are available here.

Aleks Kajstura is Legal Director at the Prison Policy Initiative. (Other articles | Full bio | Contact)

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