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August 15, 2010

"Electronic bracelets to track gun-toting Memphis juveniles"

The title of this post is the notable headline of this notable local article from Tennessee.  Here are the intriguing particulars of one of the the latest use of technocorrections (which is being funded by federal tax dollars):

Memphis police want to stop gun-toting teens in their tracks -- literally.  

Police Director Larry Godwin is teaming with Memphis Mayor A C Wharton to develop a pilot program that monitors the steps of troubled teens through advanced electronic tracking bracelets. It's part of a $2 million, federally funded program to curtail crime using tracking equipment that can pinpoint a detainee's exact location.....

Godwin ... and the mayor are teaming to develop a proposed pilot program, "Cease-Fire for Juveniles."  The initiative, modeled partly after a similar program in St. Louis, allows police and court officials to supervise the teen for one year through an electronic ankle bracelet....

Unlike some other tracking devices, the bracelets used in this program would keep a record of everywhere the detainee goes, transmitting the data in real time to a police department server, Memphis police Col. Jim Harvey said.

Using special software, police can build a virtual fence around a teen offender's home, with the computer monitoring if the teen is staying put during curfew.  If the teen leaves his yard, a police computer will automatically generate an alert.  With sex offenders, police can place a virtual fence around area schools and daycare centers.  If the offender crosses onto forbidden turf, police will get an alert.

Harvey, who is overseeing the logistics of the monitoring, said this program has the potential to drastically reduce the city's crime rate.  "If there's a burglar walking down the street and he sees a police officer, he's not going to break into that house or business," Harvey said. "Now, the way I look at it, he's going to be wearing a police officer on his leg."

In the program's first year, the department plans to track up to 1,000 juvenile and adult offenders in Shelby County and up to 500 in nearby urban areas tracked by federal programs -- Fayette, Tipton and Lauderdale counties and DeSoto County, Miss., and Crittenden County, Ark.

The juvenile program would be voluntary, so the teen and parents would have to agree to participate. If the minors stay out of trouble for one year, the initial gun-possession charge would be erased from their record.

Through the program, the parent would also have to allow random police searches of the teen's bedroom.  If the teen is caught with drugs or another gun, he or she would get kicked out of the program and would face the consequences of violating probation, police said.

Veteran defense attorney James Sanders said the program sounds promising, but he would first want to ensure the parent wouldn't be blamed if the search yielded a weapon or drugs in the teen's room....  The program would also require the minor to complete 40 hours of community service and attend training, which includes straight talk from a former gang member.

August 15, 2010 at 10:28 PM | Permalink

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Comments

It does sound promising, if it is well targeted to "troubled teens" most likely to commit crimes.

"Troubled teens" covers a lot of ground. I've only met a relative handful of teens who didn't SEEM troubled to one extent or another.

A worry is the program will go viral, billions will be spent and community leaders everywhere will be patting themselves on the back for preventing crimes that might not have occurred even without the bracelets.

The worry is the camel's nose/tent thing...that before long they'll have all of us wearing one of those things.

Posted by: John K | Aug 16, 2010 7:39:51 AM

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