During the pandemic, as jails raced to release incarcerated people because prisons became coronavirus hot spots, many judges nationwide responded by putting those who were being released in electronic ankle monitors that tracked their movements 24 hours a day. Other people were assigned ankle monitors as an alternative to bail as they awaited trial in a backlogged court system that moved online. Researchers are finding that ankle monitors are keeping people connected to the prison system longer than ever, as more remain strapped to the devices for over a year. Advocates for criminal justice reform say that while ankle monitors may appear preferable for people who hope to get out of jail sooner, they don’t address systemic issues that land so many people behind bars. MediaJustice Fellow and director of the Challenging E-Carceration Project, James Kilgore, speaks to NBC news about why electronic monitoring isn’t an alternative to mass incarceration, it’s an expansion of it.
“We’re not putting resources into their communities to address the issues of violence, to address the issues of unemployment and poverty and structural racism. Instead we’re going to slap this thing on them so we can track them, and we can keep them locked up in their house.”James Kilgore via NBC News