After more than four decades in the shadows, electronic monitors have captured the hearts and minds of law enforcement.
The pandemic contributed to this growth, making the prospect of escaping prison and jail cells through electronic monitoring (EM) an attractive option. But as abolitionist critics have consistently maintained, EM is not a more gentle, humane “alternative” to imprisonment, but rather a form of incarceration that is rapidly expanding in numbers and in its capacity to capture data. To challenge and ultimately abolish this punitive technology, we need a new paradigm to anchor our understanding of EM and all forms of e-carceration. Five key components frame this new paradigm.
First, we must demand more data and information.
Second, we need to recognize that electronic monitors are no longer simply ankle bands that track a person’s location.
Third, we need to place electronic monitoring and surveillance in historical context.
Fourth, though often overstressed by EM critics, electronic monitoring has severe effects on individuals in the many jurisdictions where user fees and other charges are exacted.
Lastly, this new paradigm needs to support the emergence of an organized resistance to electronic monitoring.