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Probation and Parole: Supervision - Electronic Monitoring

home offender passive offenders

Home detention has a long history as a criminal penalty but its new popularity with correctional authorities is due to the advent of electronic monitoring, a technological link thought to make the sanction both practical and affordable. The concept of electronic monitoring is not new, having been proposed in 1964 by Schwitzgebel and his colleagues as "electronic parole," and initially used to monitor the location of mental patients. The first studies of home detention enforced by electronic monitoring began in 1986, and by early 1992 there were at least forty thousand electronic monitors in use (Gowdy).

Electronic monitoring can be active or passive. In active monitoring, a transmitter attached to the offender's wrist or ankle sends signals relayed by a home telephone to the supervising office during the hours the offender is required to be at home. Under passive monitoring, a computer program is used to call the offender randomly during the hours designated for home confinement. The offender inserts the wristlet or anklet into a verifier to confirm her or his presence in the residence. There does not appear to be any difference in recidivism between those on passive or active systems. National surveys indicate that electronic monitoring was initially used for property offenders on probation, but since the 1900s a much broader range of offenders were being monitored than in the past. Monitoring has been expanded to include not only probationers but also to follow up persons after incarceration, to control those sentenced to community corrections, and to monitor persons before trial or sentencing. Recent evaluations in a number of jurisdictions indicate continuing support for electronic monitoring of correctional offenders; however, in terms of changing offender behavior, there is little evidence that electronic monitor without treatment and services, has much effect.

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