Video and Audio Gallery

Edmund Buck was on a monitor for 90 days after serving 20 years in Illinois state prisons. He said there was “no real sense of freedom…it was paralyzing, at times.”

 

 

 

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Shawn Harris spent a year on a monitor. In his view, the monitor established his house as his “new cell…you’re not really free when you got the monitor.”

 

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Jean-Pierre Shackelford spent over two years on a monitor in Ohio. He summed it up as “21st Century Slavery-Electronic Style.”

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Audio Recordings

Kevin Baskerville

Kevin was on a monitor twice, plus allowed several people to stay at his house while they were on the monitor. He says EM is extremely “stressful”: “the biggest stressor is the fear of returning back to lockup as a result of an EM violation.  Overall he says, “EM needs to be reformed…I’ve had a horrible time on EM. Some people in the prison system won’t accept it. They’d rather finish out their time in jail.” He added that EM is a “good concept” but the way it’s handled is “bad,” the sheriffs are “rude and disrespectful.” He recommends that they be given training so they treat people who on EM in a more respectful way. On one occasion, Kevin had a hernia that flared up and he needed immediate treatment. The sheriff’s office refused to give him permission to go but he went to the hospital anyway and was immediately put into surgery. The police showed up while he was in surgery but they left him alone for the moment. However, when he was discharged the sheriffs told him he had to go straight home. They didn’t even allow him to go to the drug store to get his pain medicine.

Curtis Oats

Curtis Oats spent about two years on a monitor, most of it while he was fighting a case in Cook County court. In his interview with Monica Cosby, he talks about how electronic monitoring led to conflict with his family, especially his mother.  He repeatedly stresses how monitoring is a “set up,” structured to make a person fail and get sent back to prison or jail. He especially had difficulty making it to court appearances because he lived far from the court house, no public transport was close by, and because of his conflict with his mother, she wouldn’t drive him to court.

‘It’s all a set up. They entice you with getting out…you’re free and everything but if you don’t have the support to do everything they ask you, you end up back in jail and when get you back in front of the judge…the judge is going to be prejudiced against you because you missed court.”

Ernest Shepard

The late Ernest Shepard spent 45 years in California prisons(three of them on Death Row), then landed on an electronic monitor as part of his parole. I spoke with him in 2014. In this recording he talks about his experience on the ankle shackle, frequently comparing being on a monitor to slavery. He said the ankle monitor negatively impacted his life, he called it a “nagging misery,” and that it made him feel like a “chattel slave.” For him the monitor was a constant inspiration to “rebel.” He kept telling himself “if I don’t rebel, what type a dude am I?…I don’t want to be no good slave.”

The second half of the recording includes an informal discussion between James Kilgore and Big Ern about the future of monitors and surveillance as well as the California prison system and how Ern built his life after prison, in spite of the monitor. He transitioned in 2016.

To read more about Ernest Shepard’s life, go here. This contains one of the most graphic description of life in solitary confinement or “The Hole” I have encountered. What makes it so powerful is that Ern describes not only the inhumanity of the institution but the humanity of the people locked up there in response.