- Case Study: Sacramento, California: In Sacramento County, law enforcement’s model for change prioritized a pretrial program under the Probation Department, which featured the extensive use of electronic monitoring. Activists in the community, including Decarerate Sacramento and Justice2Jobs Coalition, have consistently opposed EM and all forms of punitive pretrial conditions for those released from jail. As in many jurisdictions, activists’ opposition to electronic monitoring has been folded into a larger struggle to halt jail construction.
- Caso de Estudio: Sacramento, California:
- James Nelson :James Nelson talks about coming out of prison onto a monitor.
- Andrew Winn:Andrew Winn talks about trying to study at university while on EM.
- Sarah Cardoni:Sarah Cardoni talks about being on EM in a halfway house.
- Dorsey Nunn:Dorsey Nunn, a founder of All of Us or None and part of leadership of the Formerly Incarcerated and Convicted People and Families Movement (FICPFM) talks about EM.
- Lex Steppling:Lex Steppling talks about replacing punishments like EM with "systems of care."
Companies/EM and the Law/Pretrial
In 2018 four men filed suit in Alameda County against EM company LCA claiming that excessive user fees amounted to extortion. Each of the men had a dire personal situation, making payment of the $25 a day EM fees nearly impossible. One plaintiff, Robert Jackson, was serving 120 days in the county jail. He was four days into his sentence when his wife, the sole caregiver of their three children died suddenly from meningitis. The court gave Jackson a compassionate release but the daily fees forced him to lose his apartment, his car and send his children to live with family members.
EM and the Law/Pretrial
A December 2019 appellate court decision stated that individuals held in home confinement on electronic monitoring during pretrial should receive good conduct credits against any sentence later imposed by the court. The case was brought to court by William Antonio Yanez, who had spent 555 days in home confinement while awaiting trial for his case in Los Angeles.
EM and the Law/Pretrtial
A Humphrey ruling in 2018 said that a person could not be held in jail if the bail set for them was unaffordable and they posed no risk to the community if released. This led to a reduction in jail populations. In San Francisco County, authorities responded by upping the use of electronic monitoring. In the year after the Humphrey ruling, the number of people on EM under the jurisdiction of San Francisco County tripled. The huge increase in the use of EM became a central point in the debate over bail reform in San Francisco and beyond. Ultimately, the authorities decided to close one jail after the jail population fell by more than 50% over the course of two years.
The Samuelson Law Clinic, in partnership with the East Bay Community Law Center, produced the first comprehensive report on EM policy as applied to youth in California. The research team investigated the policies and condition of youth EM throughout the state. They found some shocking conditions, including rules that said no youth on EM could be left alone in the house without an adult present. The report also prompted a national convening in Oakland in October 2019. Event organizer Cancion Sotorosen of the law center’s Youth Defender Clinic said, “there needs to be greater recognition that GPS is not a panacea to keep kids out of detention, that it’s caused problems that no one anticipated, and that now we have to grapple with those.“
The Stop LAPD Spying Coalition engages in opposition to the surveillance state and what they call the “stalker state.” Among their many campaigns, they were successful in forcing Los Angeles authorities to halt the use of predictive policing technology produced by Palantir. The coalition opposes all forms of surveillance technology, including EM.
Silicon Valley De-Bug has been organizing in the community to oppose pretrial detention and to develop new models of mobilizing impacted people, including participatory defense and the power of using the stories of impacted people as a force for change. They are strong opponents of pretrial electronic monitoring.
The NoNew San Francisco Jails Coalition fought for years and finally won the battle to close the jail at 850 Bryant St in 2020. While this victory has led to a huge decrease in the jail population, authorities have also greatly expanded the use of electronic monitoring. During the campaign to close the jail, the population fell but the number of people on electronic monitors ballooned, increasing from 175 in 2017 to 758 in 2018. In response the No New SF Jails Coalition is currently developing a plan of action to oppose that expansion.
All of Us or None, based in Oakland, is a national organization that fights for the rights of currently and formerly incarcerated people and their families. They have steadfastly opposed the use of electronic monitors on people coming out of prison.