Technology has been advancing in a lot of different areas over the years, and with it has come a lot of change. Also, some of this newer technology has had a huge impact on the criminal justice system including the prison system. For example, many prisons have recently implemented facility monitoring. Through the use of surveillance techniques, it is believed that prison guards will be able to both identify and respond to inmate problems much faster (Stowell 2007). In the past most of the monitoring of inmates was primarily done by prison guards themselves through personal observation or from watching video camera footage (Stowell 2007). Prison guards still rely on video camera footage to see what is happening in different areas of the prison, but now prison guards have much more technology at their disposal. With remote monitoring prison guards will always know where a prisoner is located within the prison. One of these techniques of tracking inmates uses Radio Frequency Identification devices or RFID devices (Stowell 2007). RFID systems are wireless, and inmates wear bracelets which communicate real time data allowing for the prison guards to know where the prisoners are located at all times (Stowell 2007). This is a great technology, and I believe that by prisons utilizing this technology that it will help in keeping prisons much safer. Another monitoring procedure worth mentioning does exist, and it is called biometric monitoring system. Biometrics refers to the automated recognition of each person based on their unique characteristics like fingerprints, retina, face, and hand geometry (Stowell 2007). In jails and prisons that utilize an operational biometric device the inmates are prevented from entering unauthorized areas of the jail (Stowell 2007). Of course, with this type of technology it can be a huge asset to the jails and prisons. Thanks to some other technological advancements many prisons now have sophisticated scanners and x-ray machines which help prison guards detect both drugs, and weapons. I feel that prisons that are utilizing this new technology keeps both the prison guards, and the prisoners safer. Keeping drugs out of the prison is a good thing, and so is keeping weapons out of prisoner’s hands.
Another technology worth discussing is GPS ankle monitoring for released prisoners or individuals released from the county jail on bond. I have some experience with this technology through my Bail Bond business. Some of the inmates that I post bonds for are required to be placed on GPS monitoring. This type of monitoring is mainly for defendants who are charged with crimes involving victims or violent crimes. Electronic monitoring works for serious offenders, and this bodes well for proponents of electronic monitoring (Padgett et al., 2006). With this type of monitoring typically the defendant wears an ankle monitor which communicates by satellite, and it shows us exactly where he or she is at all times. If they are caught within a certain distance of the victim or if they are ordered on house arrest and they leave we have an obligation to put them back in jail. The court system expects us to monitor them closely, and to act whenever necessary. A widely publicized case in Florida where a nine year old girl was murdered by a sex offender prompted some Florida legislators to require released sex offenders who have molested children to wear a GPS monitor (Padgett et al., 2006). I think that it was a smart idea for the legislators in Florida to require this. They can now track these offenders after their release, and the public should feel safer because of this.
Although I firmly believe that tracking certain released prisoners or inmates with GPS monitoring is a positive thing there is some things that need improvement. For example, there are two primary types of GPS monitors that are being used in my jurisdictions. One of the GPS monitors have steel straps, and the other GPS monitor system uses hard plastic straps. We primarily use the monitor with hard plastic straps. This is for two reasons. First if there was a medical emergency many people feel that the monitor should be able to be cut off the persons ankle. Secondly the actual GPS monitor which uses the plastic strap has a better monitoring system. It seems much more accurate than the other GPS monitor that uses the steel straps. With that said most of us in my industry opt to use the GPS monitor that is much more accurate. Lastly with both monitors the battery life is not too long at all. Most, if not all of the individuals wearing these monitors must charge them daily. I can see how this can be a hassle for those ordered to wear these monitoring devices. It would make much more sense if the GPS monitor manufacturers started placing much better batteries inside of the units. Other than these areas that I feel need improvement GPS monitors are a very effective way to keep track of those released from jail or prison while also making the community feel safer.
Bail Bonds GPS Monitors in South Carolina
Padgett, K., Bales, W., Blomberg, T., (2006) “Under Surveillance: An Empirical Test of the Effectiveness and Consequences of Electronic Monitoring.” Vol. 5, No 1, PP. 61-92
Stowell, J., (2007). “Institutional Corrections and Hard Technology” University of Massachusetts- Lowell