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ACLU Contends That Electronic Monitoring Is 'E-Carceration'

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling for replacing the use of electronic monitoring, a form of GPS monitoring increasingly used in pretrial, probation, parole, and immigration proceedings to track the location of the wearer. The group calls “Rethinking Electronic Monitoring: A Harm Reduction Guide” a solutions-oriented report that reviews research on electronic monitoring, and recommends ways of reducing the harms of electronic monitoring until the practice is eliminated. “Electronic monitoring is a failed reform,” said the ACLU's Ayomikun Idowu. “Far from being an alternative to incarceration, electronic monitoring is incarceration in another form: e-carceration.”


In addition to tracking people’s whereabouts, electronic monitoring imposes conditions on people’s movement — they generally are only allowed a few hours away from home, making holding down a job, going to school, seeing family, and running basic errands nearly impossible. Many jurisdictions require people to pay for their monitor, up to hundreds of dollars per month. Violating any of these conditions means a person can land back in jail or prison. The ACLU would strictly limit the use of electronic monitoring, ensuring people have access to counsel, and developing standards to allow a person greater freedom of movement. “Years of evidence shows that electronic monitoring does not achieve its purported outcomes of improving public safety, aiding in rehabilitation and ensuring court attendance,” said the ACLU's Yazmine Nichols.

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