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Key Resources on Electronic Monitoring

This page lists key research reports and analysis of electronic monitoring and related issues.

Also, for more writings by James Kilgore on electronic monitoring, go here.

Report by James Kilgore that argues that monitors are not an alternative to incarceration but an alternative FORM of incarceration. Includes a list of recommended policy changes.

MediaJustice report explains why we need to oppose pretrial electronic monitoring.

MediaJustice report explains why people who complete a prison sentence should be given their freedom, not incarcerated again in their house with an ankle shackle.

4. Electronic Prisons: The Operation of Ankle Monitoring in the Criminal Legal System

This research report, led by Prof. Kate Weisburd of the George Washington University Law School, is the most comprehensive survey of electronic monitoring policy to date. It draws on documents from 101 agencies across 44 states plus the District of Columbia, providing strong evidence that the deprivations and restrictions of electronic monitoring "further entrench race and class-based subordination."

5. 10 Facts About Pretrial Electronic Monitoring in Cook County

This study of Cook County, Illinois, which runs one of the largest pretrial electronic monitoring programs in the country, illustrates the overwhelmingly punitive nature of this EM regime. The report highlights that the $19.5 million spent on EM annually fails to improve the extent of recidivism or rate of failure to appear for court appearances, but definitely does disproportionately impact the Black population of Chicago.

6. Guidelines for Respecting the Rights of People on Electronic Monitoring

Developed by a coalition led by MediaJustice, these guidelines contain some key policy measures to carry out harm reduction in situations where electronic monitoring cannot be eliminated or avoided. This document was endorsed by more than 60 organizations nationwide include the ACLU, the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and the National Network of Community Bail Funds.

This report from Mijente and Just Futures Law outlines how ICE is using GPS tracking devices to not only track migrants but to compile massive databases on them through the profiteering of data brokers like Lexus Nexus and Thompson Reuters and the platforms of companies like Palantir.

This is a series of more than two dozen blogs published by Media Justice on the platform. They cover a range of topics from analysis of the technology, to changes in EM during the pandemic, to specific impacts of wearing an ankle shackle for transgender Black women. They contain a mixture of personal stories and political analysis.

This includes the most recent survey of the number of devices in use. While it is limited value, it is the only census of devices since 2009.

Published by the East Bay Community Law Center and the Samuelson Clinic of the UC Berkeley Law School, this is the result of research in all 58 counties of California. It highlights the ways in which electronic monitoring regimes are often especially punitive and unnecessary for juveniles.

11. Model State Legislation for Electronic Monitoring-Illinois 2017

This bill was introduced into the Illinois state legislature in 2017. It was referred to committee but did not secure enough votes in committee to get onto the floor. Nonetheless, it stands out as a model of legislation for electronic monitoring by incorporating the notion of rights for people on the monitor and banning all user fees. IL EM Bill.

This is a comprehensive overview of research in English on EM worldwide, focusing on studies that specifically aim to measure the effectiveness of EM in reducing recidivism. The overall conclusion offers nothing significant about the impact of electronic monitoring, but the bibliography and discussion of various research documents offers perhaps the broadest overview yet of the research on the topic. Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this report is the generally low quality of research and research methodology across the board. Clearly this study shows that there is no clear-cut body of evidence that makes the case for the effectiveness of electronic monitoring. Find report here.

In this podcast from Rustbelt Abolition Radio, James Kilgore and Myaisha Hayes discuss the overall narrative of Challenging E-Carceration, stressing its status as an alternative form of incarceration and linking the campaign against E-Carceration with the notion of abolition.

This offers a survey of key research on electronic monitoring, arguing that to date the research on this issue has for the most part been inconsequential, either poor conceived, extremely biased or not dealing with crucial issues.

This Challenging E-Carceration paper by James Kilgore suggests a number of ways in which quantitative and qualitative research could contribute to changing the narrative about electronic monitoring and finding ways to use technology in the service of social justice. The paper highlights the need to elucidate the ways in which electronic monitoring reinforces and expands the existing race, gender and class bias of the prison industrial complex. In addition, it emphasizes the need to link electronic monitoring with other technologies of the surveillance state such as Stingrays, fusion centers and facial recognition software.

This NBC piece describes how tech companies and law enforcement used the pandemic as an opportunity to expand the use of electronic monitors.

17. Texas Department of Criminal Justice Electronic Monitoring Policy

This document, unlike virtually all EM policy, provides some very specific recommendations in terms of the purposes for which a person may be granted movement. This document goes as far as to allow 8-hour visits to family members houses on 10 national holidays as well as permitting movement for “daily living needs” which include shopping, banking, haircuts and attending funerals. Policy and Operating Procedure 3.15.1.

Former MediaJustice Director Malkia Devich-Cyril outlines how surveillance has been and remains a key component of the oppression of Black people in the United States.

This document, developed by the Council of Europe’s Probation’s Electronic Monitoring working group and adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in 2014, represents the most comprehensive, human rights-based set of recommendations for the use of EM to date.

20. Mike Nellis: "Better than Human?"

better than human by Mike Nellis
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Electronic Monitoring-FAQs

How widely used is electronic monitoring ? According to a Pew Charitable Trust research report in 2016, there were about 131,000 individuals under supervision via electronic monitoring on December 201


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