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April 14, 2007

A practical challenge to GPS monitoring

As detailed in posts linked below, I think GPS tracking has lots of promise as a possible alternative to excessive imprisonment.  However, as this short local news story details, there are challenges to broadening the use of this form of technocorrections:

Sentencing people to wear ankle bracelets is taking its toll on Suffolk County's probation department.  It has run out of officers to monitor the criminals and defendants. Suffolk's Probation director John Desmond told his staff to stop recommending GPS devices as a condition of probation because the department does not have enough officers to supervise more accused and offenders.

Currently, 10 probation officers working in three shifts track the whereabouts of 50 criminals and defendants around the clock to ensure they don't go where they're not supposed to.  Increasingly, lawmakers are turning to technology like GPS as an alternate means to incarceration for some offenders, including drunk drivers, some sex predators, and violators of orders of protection.  It's cheaper to track people using GPS devices than it is to send them to jail.

Some related posts on GPS tracking:

April 14, 2007 at 01:13 PM | Permalink


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I think at some future time GPS monitors will be a useful tool for supervised probation and pretrial release. But that time is not now. The battery pack is about the size and weight of a bible the units are very expensive and clients have been known to cut them off and throw them away. Our jail has had good results using GPS monitors with prisoners on work release who work outside the county.

Community Based Corrections seldom used GPS monitors because the technology was immature but was told by the legislature to use GPS monitors for sex offenders and from comments made by our district director the results are not satisfactory. I suspect there are too many sex offenders and not enough probation officers the same problem they have in Suffolk County.

Posted by: John Neff | Apr 14, 2007 4:02:21 PM

I think GPS tracking devices might be very usable because they can help for the faster imprisonment of people who have commited crimes before and who have do it again.

Posted by: Cara Fletcher | Jun 12, 2007 11:00:45 AM

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